Let’s talk Photography. In fact, ask the Hairy Photographer anything about cameras, Photoshop, lighting, etc.

The Lighting was Hell, the band were Merry

Listen while you read

It’s no secret that one of my favourite folk rock bands in the Wigan based Merry Hell.

They are lively, uplifting, and highly entertaining. They write songs in the modern folk ethos, with keen, wry, often humorous, observations of life and love. And when touched by discrimination, injustice and political malfeasance, they protesteth well through the medium of song.

We’ve had them perform at our own folk and acoustic club on a number of occasions, and indeed they will be back again in November [Link].

They are a great band to photograph too. The three Kettle bothers; gravelly voiced Andrew in his dapper suits, the plectrum chewing John with his animated guitar style, and the hirsute and behatted Bob with a face full of character that randomly breaks into the widest of smiles. And of course there’s the lovely Virginia, who is great to photograph because of her nimble and gesticulous performances, and just because she’s the lovely Virginia.

As this particular gig was at a club in a neighbouring town, I’d awarded myself a night off and left my camera at home, only to find on arrival, an SLR being pressed into my hand. I agreed to the request, quietly self-imposing a “three songs and out” rule so I could relax and enjoy the show.

You will have guessed by now that this is not so much a music review, being filed primarily under “Photography Talk”. Please go here for past Merry Hell reviews, and Here for Ron Lester’s review of the Rhyl gig.

The camera was a Fuji S5. My first digital SLR had been the Fuji S1 which I still have but rarely use. It was low on megapixels and lacked the ability to shoot raw, but I always loved the smooth skin tones produced by the unique pixel structure of  its ‘Super CCD’.

Being a Nikon user, the S5 felt comfortable, based as it was on the 2006 iteration of the Nikon D200. Because it was dark and there was a gig to enjoy, I didn’t have the time nor inclination to fully familiarise myself, so I went with the camera’s settings as they were. Luckily, I spotted the fact the auto-focus was set to dynamically focus using the centre spot, so not wanting to trawl through an unfamiliar menu, I utilised the focus lock button the ensure it didn’t keep drifting to focus on the background.

For this type of shoot, in the inevitable low level lighting, I tend to shoot on Shutter Prioriy at a 30th with auto ISO.

As well as the four main band members, there were the back line bass and fiddle players, Nick Davies  and Neil McCartney to consider. Getting all six in one shot was always going to be a challenge, so I altered my vantage point for each of the three songs. Whilst I was precariously perched  atop a rickety bar stool, Virginia announced she wanted everyone to sway along to “Bury Me Naked”. As infectious as the music was, I declined, not wanting to be buried just yet, naked or otherwise.

“I’ll send you the files”, he said, as I handed back the camera . What he meant was “will you process them for me too”. Anyway I didn’t really mind. Ron’s a mate, and he never objects when the tables are turned and I thrust a camera into his hands at our own club.

The following day, three dozen Jpegs appeared in my Dropbox, under-exposed (I knew they would be) and with the colour balance from hell (I knew this too).  What I hadn’t known was that the camera was set to shoot only Jpegs. Ah well. The Fuji’s firmware had done it’s best to cope with the mixture of low power tungsten, halogen and led spot/floods that illuminate the business end of Rhyl Folk & Acoustic’s clubroom, and in doing so had stripped out a hell of a lot of the digital ‘meat’ I am used to dealing with in my own NEF RAW files.

The sliders in Lightroom’s Develop Module looked like  something created by Salvador Dali, but we got there in the end and the images turned out quite reasonable considering the conditions.

I was satisfied with the images and had got to enjoy my first Merry Hell fix of the year.

By |February 14th, 2017|0 Comments

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The Lily – Selfies will never be the same!

lilyWow – just bloody Wow!

This really it taking camera design to new heights. At just under £400 these will surely go flying off the shelves – quite literally!
Hands up… Who wants one?

You can pre-order here

By |May 14th, 2015|0 Comments

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What Happened Next…?

click the image to find out

Whatnext1

 

Tony’s a Smashing Photographer

Photographers are known for wanting to get close to the action in their quest for a great shot.

But the Shepton Mallet Journal’s Tony Bolton got a little closer than he would have liked at a recent hockey match.

Tony was capturing the action and when the ball was hit, his timing was bang on.

That perfectly timed image had Tony’s name on it. Unfortunately, so did the ball!

It headed straight toward its unlikely target and hit the bull’s-eye, putting the snapper’s long focus lens out of action, permanently.

Dead Long Sports Lens bDead Long Sports Lens a

Source: Shepton Mallet Journal

By |May 13th, 2015|0 Comments

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Tabloid deception

waterstory5Sure, drinking water is good for you. But this is just tabloid crap.

The “before” picture has been taken with a single light placed above the lady’s head. Note the shadow under the nose and the lack of catchlights in the eyes.

This type of lighting will emphasise bags under the eyes and skin blemishes.

The “after” picture has been taken using two frontal diffused lights. You can clearly see the catchlights (reflections of the light source) in the eyes. One, a round light, probably using an umbrella reflector was to the left of the camera slightly above head height and the other, a large rectangular ‘soft box’ was placed at eye level very close the the camera axis.

waterstory2These produce practically shadowless lighting which will minimise or even eliminate the shadows cast by eye bags etc and give a smoother texture to the skin.

I’m not saying they were, but it would have easily been possible to have taken both these photographs on the same day.

The lady in question has said she undertook the month-long experiment after speaking to a neurologist and nutritionist because she was suffering headaches and poor digestion. So why would she take herself off to a photographic studio to have a “before” picture taken?

waterstory3And then, we are expected to believe, she went back a month later wearing the same blouse and the same earrings and her hair in the same style and with the intervening month’s growth cut off to have the “miraculous” transformation recorded for posterity?

Do the Daily Mirror think we are all thick or something?

Worse still they have done a sloppy job of the deception. Both pictures have exactly the same perspective and image size. ie: Same camera to subject distance and same focal length lens.

It looks every bit as if the camera was set on a tripod, the first picture taken and the photographer changed the lighting whilst the lady combed her hair and had some concealer and foundation applied before sitting back in the same position.

My guess is, the “after” picture have also been retouched because the lady’s water intake has even caused some extra eyelashes to grow!

Basically, it’s a load of old tosh designed to make gullible people buy their tabloid rag.

It reinforces my belief that the only thing you can believe in the tabloids is the date – and they even get that wrong sometimes!waterstory4

See the original story here: http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/real-life-stories/woman-who-started-drinking-three-4791113

By |December 12th, 2014|0 Comments

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Cardboard Cameras

cardboardSeveral years ago I used to do camera reviews for Camera User, SLR Magazine, Photo News Weekly and other publications.

I remember decrying the fact plastics were beginning to be utilised in the construction of cameras.  I was, at that time, a devout Nikon F user – the big iron battleship that it was.  But then, Gandolfi was probably just as peeved when they stopped using wood in the mainstream manufacture of cameras!

Things progressed, of course, for better or for worse. Recently I was interested to see things had come full circle with Elvis Halilović’s remarkable range of fully-working film cameras made from wood.

So I gave more than a second glance when I spotted this fabulous collection of cameras made from cardboard.

American artist and sculptor Kiel Johnson has crafted a range of cameras and the collection includes SLRs, Polaroids, point and shoot cameras, twin lens cameras and the retro 8mm cameras.  These are just works of art though, they don’t actually work.  They are lovely caricatures, rather than replicas and would look absolutely fabulous as display pieces in a photographer’s home.

I want one – although I suspect I would have to save up for a very long time to own one.

 

By |June 17th, 2014|0 Comments

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