29 April 2015

Bloody dog

Bloody dog, formerly known as Skip has been my best friend since he was 8 weeks old, give or take a few days, 12 years.

Although bloody dog may not have seen the changes, in 2003 I was a very different person, employed in a job that I hated, and deeply unhappy and lacking confidence.

For the first 8 years he was my Dad's dog.   Actually Dad was one of the reasons for wanting to get a dog, to give him a bit of company throughout the day.

Four years ago Dad passed away, and now nearly to the day we've heard the news that we (Mum and I) knew deep inside, but it still came as a shock to the system.

Since his cruciate ligament operation a few weeks ago, bloody dog has been plagued with a very upset stomach and a huge loss of appetite, which for a dog that never wanted to stop eating wasn't good to see.

He's lost a lot of weight since the operation, and with the news confirmed of a lump on his spleen the decision has all but been made for us.  The vet said the trauma of the operation and probably caused the problem to become more of an issue. 

The vet assures us he's not in any pain, so we'll get a few more days to make a fuss of him.   We simply don't know how much longer we'll have him around for.  As long as he's comfortable, and seems relatively happy (he's still going for short walks a couple of times a day).


Skip like any dog loves his walks, although he's never much liked travelling by vehicle, so the furthest I've been with him is Christchurch.  Even then he never settles in new places, which is partly where the name bloody dog came from.

The frustrating thing about all of this, the cruciate ligament operation that apparently tricked all of this, actually went really well.  He's walking better now, nearly without a limp.

Doesn't alter the fact that I love the bloody thing deeply, and I'm tearing up while typing this.  

Bloody dog.

I'm not quite sure how I'm going to cope when the day arrives.   I shall probably park up somewhere peaceful and have a good cry by myself.

Skip....  Thanks for all the happy memories.  It's going to be a very quiet house once you've gone.

24 April 2015

Gitta de Ridder - a very happy singer

As promised a few days ago, here are a few photos of Gitta de Ridder, one of the support singers for Lay Low.

So many singers like to sing with their eyes closed, Lay Low herself was one of these.  Gitta was a joy to photograph, with her many expressions.

22 April 2015

Recreating a sunset

Probably 25 years ago I photographed a sunset across Southampton water. 

Obviously this was a long time before digital.   If my memory is correct I was using a 600mm f/8 mirror lens combined with a x2 extender, making a rather insane 1200mm.

I've gone a little bit backwards in terms of maximum focal length, topping out now at 600mm (full frame equivalent).

It's an image I'd always wanted to try and recreate, and when I first started to research when the sun would set in that same location I found it would be twice a year.  Once in April and then again 4 months later in August.

Now a I needed was a clear evening.   I saw someone post a satellite image of a nearly cloudless United Kingdom, and decided then and there that to head out later that evening.

The resource I used to plot the sunset location was "The Photographer’s Ephemeris (TPE)".  

Nearly everything was perfect, the skies were clear, TPE had the location of the sunset perfectly, but there was one thing I hadn't accounted for, one which wasn't even there when I arrived at Mayflower Park.

Damn you Hyundai Pride and its 365.5 meters of container ship ugly parking up directly in the middle of where the sun was due to set.

Slight imperfections permitting, I was still rather pleased with a couple of the images.

Next time I'll get it without the boat in the way!

Below - First image is the original photograph, poorly scanned from the original print, and secondly is the image taken yesterday.

21 April 2015

Getting Intimate with Lay Low

I discovered the music of Lay Low in Reykjavik during my trip to Iceland last year.   It was the final day of the trip, actually nearly the final stop before heading to the airport.

It had been an awesome trip, but after the 8 hour drive from Hofn the day before I was tired and rather irritable.

We were in this little gift shop, and I was sizing up a pair of slippers.  Music was playing in the background and suddenly a song came on that I rather liked.   It was Lay Low, and as luck would have it, they had her most recent album "Talking About The Weather" there to buy.   I had to wait until arriving home to listen to it, but it didn't disappoint.

Fast forward the best part of a year and I saw that Lay was playing a gig in London.   So I thought I'd try my luck to try and get a photo pass and sent a message via Facebook.  Normally with these things you contact the agent or promoter.   It must be an Icelandic thing to be able to talk directly with the artist - Emiliana Torrini emailed me directly after I'd taken photos of her Brighton show last year.

The reply came from Lay Low that I would be on the guest list and could photograph away as much as you like.

The venue was The Waiting Room in Stoke Newington in the frozen north of London.   It was a tiny basement venue under The Three Crowns pub.   Just for your culinary information, awesome burgers, bloody awful tea.

The warm up acts were Chaz Thorogood and Gitta de Ridder, both rather excellent singer / songwriters & guitar players.

Chaz was playing in the dark.   Even at f/1.8 and 3200 iso I was struggling to get a fast enough shutter speed.   During the interval I asked the sound tech (venue was too small for a lighting tech) if he could turn on the front of stage lights.   Much better lighting now for Gitta and Lay!

I think the audience max'ed out at around 40 people, which was kinda about right (at least for me) for the venue.

I was very thankful for not having an DSLR and the rather noisy smacking mirror mechanism that comes with them.   It was very noticeable from the other photographer there.   I'm not sure I'll ever go back to a "normal" DSLR camera.   In a few years I'm sure we'll be referring to mirrorless as the norm.

Enough inane technical camera talk.   Here are the photos from the evening.  I'll post Gitta and Chaz later.

17 April 2015

Robin Trower @ Salisbury City Hall

A few weeks ago I received an email from the promoters if I wanted a photo pass for one of the upcoming Robin Trower concerts.  The date and location of the Salisbury gig worked for me, so I said yes please.

I'd never even heard his name before, and I rocked up on the day of the gig not even having listened to any of his music.  He's actually rather good at the old guitar playing thing.

Live music photography normally comes with a certain set of rules to follow.  With Robin it was first two songs, and no moving around during the songs.  Before he took to stage I'd asked one of the sound techs what side of the stage he'd be on, with that knowledge to hand it basically meant I'd be standing front left of stage, right in front of the speakers (I always take earplugs to gigs for this very reason).  There was no photographers pit.

While this didn't afford me that much variety, I was rather pleased with the below images.  The stage lighting wasn't really working for me, hence I thought I'd process them all as black and white.  The resulting pictures seemed to suit the mood better.

After the two songs I went and sat in the very back row for a while.  The auditorium was perhaps only two thirds full.  I had to leave part way through, but what I did get to listen to was good, very good!

Oh, just to add to the evening, Phil "Time Team" Harding was in the room!  I didn't get a photo with him, and this makes me a bit sad.

If you'd like to help support me (I wasn't paid to be there), the below photos are available for purchase.  £20 for each high resolution digital image.  If you want multiple, email and I'll do you a deal.