27 October 2015

Photographing Riverside at The 1865

I was invited to photograph the Southampton concert of Riverside by the local promoter.  He really likes his heavy death metal bands, so I was a little bit wary of what to expect from this Polish prog rock band I'd never heard of before.  He assured me that I'd like it, and it's rare that I turn down a photography opportunity, so in I went.  That said, I'd been feeling so grotty from a man cold during the afternoon that I very nearly didn't go.

The two supports acts were also both new to me, Lion Shepherd also a prog rocky type band from Poland, and Sixxis, a bit more rock than prog, all the way from Atlanta in the US of A.

When I parked up opposite the venue it was impossible to miss the two full size tour coaches, both with trailers.  Okay, so Riverside were clearly an established band with a decent tour budget.

Also new to me was The 1865 venue.  I'd never even heard of it before, and I was expecting another cramped affair with poor lighting and no press pit.  What I got was a large venue, a decent sized stage with crash barriers forming the press pit, a raised bar area behind, and a mezzanine floor overlooking the stage.  Talking with the owner and the lighting guy, and it seems they'd actually put some effort and investment into the lighting, which would make for a huge change from other smaller venues.

Lion Shepherd, a four piece band (3 guitars and drums) kicked off the show.  With only three official photographers, moving around the press pit was easy, and they were right about the lighting.  It was much better than any venue of this size probably should be.

The Sixxis took to the stage for a slightly longer set.  The lead singer also played multiple instruments, from keyboards to some kind of electric violin.  This make for some interesting sounds.

Finally, at 9pm, it was time for the headline act.  I didn't have a clue what to expect.  The last prog band I'd spent any time listening to was 40 year old Genesis tunes.  The audience was filled with people who unlike me actually knew the band and their music. 

After photographing the first three songs from the pit I made my way upstairs to the closed off mezzanine level, and that's where I stayed for most of the show, sitting, watching, listening and enjoying the sublimely wonderful music of Riverside.

Any act that perform with a fluffy toy bird stuck to the keyboards are okay by me and by the end of the evening they'd won themselves another fan.  I drove home very pleased I'd made the effort to be there.

04 October 2015

The Vulcan's final display?

On what seems will be XH558's final day of displays, I was lucky enough to get a ticket for the Gaydon event which was being held at the Heritage Motor Centre Motor Museum.  It meant a 200 mile round trip, but the chance to see this magnificent beast in the air one final time, it was worth it.

Like most people I arrived early with the knowledge that we'd have hours to wait.  I actually quite like "chill out" time like this, I can kick back in the van, drink tea, dick about on Facebook.  It's quality time for me.

While I'm not really into static car displays, I had a complimentary ticket (the entry was free to say sorry for the ticket problems) to the museum.  The facilities were hard to fault, all housed in a modern building, with no barriers between you and the vehicles.  Much better than a certain rather crusty motor museum that you can find in the New Forest.  If I'd have been into cars, I'd probably have entertained myself for hours in there.  Sadly though I'm not, and I was bored and searching for a cup of tea in the cafe within 10 minutes.

Fast forward 4 hours and many cups of tea later, and it was time for the Vulcan to display.  It came in so low to the ground that it vanished behind the museum for a few moments.

Rather frustratingly the entire display was into the sun, which of course make photographing rather more challenging than it could have been.  Add in the trees and the buildings it kept hiding behind, and it was a tiny bit of a disappointment.   Only a tiny bit though, because the scream of the jet engines more than made up for it.

From what I could gather, there are more regulations now for flying displays after the tragic events a couple of months back at Shoreham, and at no point did the Vulcan come close to flying over the crowd.  Of course I get why these rules are in place, and perhaps Gaydon wasn't the best choice of a venue as a result. 

According to the current information XH558 has two more days of flying and then it's grounded.

I was very pleased to have seen it fly one last time, even if my photos are all a bit meh...

02 October 2015

Festival of Light at Durdle Door

Living as I do just over an hours drive away from Durdle Door it's hard to believe I've never taken the time to visit it before.

For a long time I thought that the only way to it was what looked like a very hard slog up and over the hill from Lulworth Cove.  Even without camera gear this would have been a bugger of a climb.  My other reason for not going before is because it's been so well photographed, so very well photographed.  I've seem some breathtaking photos of it, so much better than anything I'd be able to capture.  So I needed a reason, and that very thing happened on 1st October for the Festival of Light.

It was a glorious evening, a perfect sky, with not a cloud in sight.

I made my way over to the western most accessible cliff top, staked my claim on a spot and waited for the sun to set, and the lights to come on.

The climb back up was an arse.  I had to keep stopping to pretend to look at the view while I was really catching my breath.  Nearing exhaustion at the top of the hill, I decided to sit down and see if I could get any milky way images.

It was then that I noticed what seemed to be a search and rescue helicopter making its way very slowly over the water from Portland.  I figured it was on a training exercise, perhaps testing out some new lights.  For over 10 minutes it was hovering nearby, just far enough away for the downdraught not to flatten me.  I even managed to capture a long exposure image of it.

On approaching the field with the car park I was met by a very grumpy community support officer who instructed me and another guy to stop in our tracks and not move because the helicopter was trying to land.  He hadn't exactly been trying very hard to land for the last 15 minutes I wanted to say, but figured it was better to STFU and let the cockwomble of a policeman have his 2 minutes of power.  If I'd have been in the way, or if he'd have been semi polite....  I found out after getting home that someone had collapsed and it was all really rather serious, which makes me wonder why the helicopter wasn't in a rush.  I wish that person all the best.

Oh, I nearly forgot to mention the sounds of the live ammunition firing from the range nearby, and the huge number of people.  Apparently the car park took 2 hours to clear, all I know is I drove straight out without a problem just before 10pm, although I had spent the last hour or so listening the the sounds of the muggles revving their engines and beeping at each other.

It's going to be nigh on impossible to top my first ever visit to Durdle Door...