Tag Archives: band

Music Photography: Diving Station

Manchester based band Diving station are releasing their first EP today at Aatma, 14-16 Faraday St, M1 1BE. I was fortunate to photograph them last August when they visited Edinburgh.

Manchester based band at Silverknowes beach, Edinburgh

Diving station at Silverknowes beach, Edinburgh. From left to right, George Burrage, Sean Rogan, Anna McLuckie, Barny Kimberley.

I really love long exposures of seascapes, because of their effect on water and clouds. I had dreamt of combining a long seascape exposure with people in the shot, and when I proposed this idea to Anna McLuckie, the lead singer, she was very enthusiastic. The picture above consists of two photographs, one with a relatively short exposure to get the band and a second frame taken without the band but with a two minute exposure. It was a typical Scottish summer day (that was the only day where the band was available for a shoot), but I knew that if we waited until after sunset, the light would be soft and there would likely be some colours in the sky. I’m quite pleased with my first attempt at a photograph of this nature.

Manchester based band Diving Stattion at Silverknowes beach, Edinburgh.

I like unusual compositions, and since the sky over Silverknowes beach looked really interesting, I decided to give it the lion’s share of the frame.

Manchester based band Diving Stattion at Silverknowes beach, Edinburgh.

More conventional composition this time. I always shoot these.

The band logo has a lot of blue in it, so I wanted to give the other beach shots a blue colour cast. This is easily done by setting the white balance of the camera to tungsten and lighting the band with an off camera flash and CTO “orange” gel on it to give them proper skin tones. I worked a number of compositions with two of them shown above.

The photo shoot started earlier in the day, in a stairwell, believe it or not. These kinds of locations are a blessing and a curse at the same time. I’m sure you get the curse part, but the constraints imposed by locations like these allow one’s creativity to be pushed, and one’s frame of mind to be stretched. I’m always up for a challenge.

Manchester based band Diving Station group shot, straight on

The more people in the picture, the harder it is to get everyone looking good. Fortunately, every band member liked this photo.

I always need to warm up at the beginning of a photo shoot, and so we started by taking very straightforward band photos.

Manchester based band Diving Station group shot, from above

I always try different angles, either from above or below.

Then I started looking for different angles.

Manchester based band Diving Station, "behind bars".

I always look for elements of design such s lines. The stair railing offered an opportunity to frame each member of the band. I also liked the pipes above their heads and therefore included them in my composition.

And compositions.

Manchester based band Diving Station in a smokey stairwell

Adding smoke completely changes the atmosphere of the location. Pun intended.

I had brought with me a smoke machine, because I thought this could really add some atmosphere to the photos. One light behind to backlight the smoke and a light in front for the band.

Manchester based band Diving Station in a smokey stairwell

I love silhouettes, so I just had to try to light the band just with the backlight. I really like this moody pic.

After I get the “obvious” shot, I like to ask “what if..?”. For example “what if I switch off the main light?”

Manchester based band Diving Station in a smokey stairwell

When I sense I’m running out of ideas, I just try something. Anything. So I put a bare speedlight on the stairs, camera right, just to see what would happen. Lucky me.

Usually, a number of mistakes occur when I start working my subject and lighting. Fortunately, some of them turn out great. At the time I didn’t think much of the shot above. I think it was because it wasn’t what I really was after, but the band immediately liked it. And I have to say it has become one of my favourite shots of the day.

Manchester based band Diving Station in a smokey stairwell, "behind bars".

Since I liked this composition, I decided to revisit it with a different lighting set up and the smoke.

With the smoke and more moody lighting scheme, I explored some of the earlier compositions. I never thought you could have this much fun with a smoke machine in a staircase.



Light Painting The Miracle Glass Company

Light painting consists in illuminating the scene with a small LED light during a long camera exposure. Typically, I combine a number of pictures in Photoshop as it is usually not practical to light the whole scene in one go.

Because of the long camera exposures required, the subject one photographs must stand still. There lies a major challenge in light painting people. You and I can stand still, but only up to a point. We aren’t rocks or sofas. When light painting people, there is always some slight motion from shot to shot. How one lights the subject and good Photoshop skills are required to produce sharp light paintings of people.

Light painting of Miracle Glass Company in an abandoned location

I don’t really know what the used piece of equipment in the foreground is, but when I saw the location, I knew I would use its lines to direct the eye of the viewer to the band.

I started doing light paintings with inanimate objects. I then tried to photograph one person. The next step in that evolution was obviously light painting multiple people.

The atmospheric images this technique produces appeal to musicians and artists in general. So I enlisted the help of Edinburgh rock band “The Miracle Glass Company”. They describe themselves as follows:

“From supernaturally beautiful songs to seismic mind bending jams, Miracle Glass Company represent all that’s best about cosmic rock n’ roll.”

Light painting of Edinburgh rock band Miracle Glass Company in an abandoned location

We tried a number of different poses for the band, and a few different compositions.

A great benefit of working with that band is that they happen to rehearse in an abandoned church, that is apparently serving as some sort of carpentry atelier. Derelict locations full of “stuff” are absolutely wonderful for light painting.

Light painting of Edinburgh rock band Miracle Glass Company in an abandoned location.

The entrance to the location lent itself nicely to a vertical composition.

Live Ceilidh Band

“Unpredictability. Accidents. Not good when you’re engaging in, say, brain surgery, but when lighting…wonderful!” – Joe McNally

At the end of the Paul Chamberlain-Michael Haywood promo shoot at the Voodoo Rooms, I was asked by Paul if I was available to take live pictures of the ceilidh band he and Michael are part of.

I gladly accepted the opportunity and found myself a few days later at the Edinburgh ceilidh club event in Summerhall.

I first tried taking pictures without the help of a flash, but the fraction of usable pics was low enough that I decided it was best to use some lighting help.

When using flash, I typically like to underexpose the ambient light, to saturate the background colours and give the pictures more contrast. Since I like to take lots of pictures during a live event, to increase the chances of getting some good ones, I was shooting fast. So fast in fact, that on quite a few occasions, the flash didn’t have time to recycle and hence didn’t fire.

Michael Haywood playing the violin at ceilidh event in Summerhall, Edinburgh, with the band Hotscotch

One of the lights at Summerhall produced a rim light on the musicians when shooting from that particular angle. This is the feature that caught my attention when reviewing the photographs on the LCD screen of my camera.

When I decided to review the pics I had taken thus far on the LCD screen, a few really caught my attention! The light was really interesting, and I loved the mood created by the underexposure. It quickly occurred to me that those were the pics when the flash didn’t fire. I quickly switched off the flash and explored this set up for a few minutes. These pictures happened to be some of my favourites from the live ceilidh event. Joe McNally is absolutely right. When it comes to lighting, embrace the unpredictability and accidents. They may lead to some interesting photographs.

Paul Chamberlain playing the accordion at ceilidh event in Summerhall, Edinburgh, with Hotscotch band

With the accordionist Paul Chamberlain, not only did I get a nice rim light, but some wonderful reflections on his instrument.