Monday, 30 May 2016

Roger Lever - Band on the run

The Galloway Collective Facebook Page has always carried a picture of the current members of our group and it has been a challenge for one of us to take that cover picture whenever new members join us. This time it was my turn. Jesse and Helen of Viridian Sky Tours have just joined us and we wish them every success in their young careers. The balance of our group continues to evolve and you might be forgiven calling us "The Band on the Run"

This image is one I have thought about for some time. All the previous images have been very different and of excellent quality. It demonstrates the difference between photographers and how we perceive things before taking our photographs

I have always been a fan of Paul McCartney, who hasn’t? His WINGS album "Band on the Run" has an image on the front cover which many of you might remember. Just google "band on the run" to see it. It is this image that I was wishing to emulate when my turn came around to take our group shot. As luck would have it the number of people in the group matched with McCartney’s album image.

I knew I had quite a challenge on my hands.

1. Where would I do it?
First find yourself a brick wall big enough to stand everyone in front of. Ok, so a couple of trips round Dalbeattie and I soon found the ideal spot. Biggars Mill Yard. It was big enough and there were even other options for backgrounds.

2. When would we do it? Now we had 9 members which is the most we have had. A great bunch with a good mix of age, talent and sex. It had to be done at night and we all had to agree on a date. That turned out easier than I thought.

3. The weather had to be kind. At least it had to be fine, which it was. Although the sun had been shining that day there was a change in the temperature and it was quite cold so I had to try and get the thing completed in as short a time as possible.

4. How? Well as you will see the image is taken with the band under a spotlight. Creating that spotlight was a real challenge in itself. I borrowed a 500 watt lamp and I had various things I could try. Creating a round beam of light was proving very difficult in the tests I did back at my studio. There was another problem which was getting a power source for that strength of light. There was no electricity at the location site and my original battery power pack failed to charge properly and even Dave’s power pack wouldn’t cope with 500W. I ended up borrowing a generator which kicked out about 4 megawatts. That had to be enough. It worked wonderfully.

I was then down to the light source. I have a fresnel lens which fits my studio lights but I didn’t know if it was going to do the job until that evening. See the results. I was more than pleased.

5. Organising 9 photographers to have their photograph taken is a bit daunting to say the least, so I had to do some prep work for that. It would give them the impression that I knew what I was doing!! Ha! I had written out my list of instructions for each person, where they would stand, and how they would stand etc. Set up the test shot and fire. Adjust positions and light power and angle a bit. Pow! Same again until gradually the image was coming to life. Pow! Pow!

6. Remember, I had to be in this one as well. Setting the camera on a 10 second time release gave me enough time to get into position. Pow! And we have it.

We are all self critical of our own work as I was of this. Yes, I could have carried on fine tuning the adjustments until I had it just right. On a warm comfortable day or balmy still evening that would not have been a problem but we were all beginning to shiver a bit and there was a lot of hand rubbing going on, so that was that.

Had we been observed from a distance in that yard at that time of night you might have thought it was the start of a gangster movie. The cars rolling up under the dim amber security lights might have led on to a blood bath.

The police never showed!! The job got done.

Pow! And we have it.

(additional behind-the-scenes shot courtesy of GPC member, Kim Ayres)

Roger Lever

Monday, 23 May 2016

David Moses - How I learned to stop worrying and love workshops

This coming weekend (May 28th) I am running a flash photography workshop at Shambellie House in New Abbey. I love doing these, because it’s an opportunity to give something back to the photography community - especially for beginners.

I remember when I was first starting out - I had no clue whatsoever. But the photography industry has a very strong grass roots support network - think of how many camera clubs, websites, forums, trips, outings, workshops, books, videos, tutorials there are. I attended many workshops from professional photographers and each time I came away with new ideas, tips, techniques and was able to implement those into my work. I resolved to always offer support and education to other photographers once I had established myself because I really believe in the principle of giving back.

So what can you expect from this workshop? By focusing on one particular element of photography you can really get the tools to explore something. The aim is not to learn everything that ever has been and ever will be, but to take one idea and run with it. In this instance, the one idea is using a flash. We’ll start at the beginning - how to make your flash work and go from there. By the end of the day you will be able to use your flash off-camera to take eye-catching, distinctive photographs.

All learning is about confidence - I will give you the confidence (through practical experience) to take your new found skills with you.

If you are afraid or unsure of your flash then this is the one for you, click the link to find out more and book now (limited spaces, booking essential).

David Moses

Monday, 16 May 2016

Stargazing Scotland - An Introduction

Each time I step out into the night I anticipate a new unforgettable experience. Be it something I see, something I’ve felt, some internal breakthrough, or a close encounter (owls, otters and aliens to name a few). This is what inspires me to embrace the challenges of night photography; dark conditions don’t make it easy for a photographer but what light remains is a joy to work with. It’s also full of mysteries and many surprises.

These mysteries are what fuel my passion for Astrophotography, Astronomy and Astrophysics. I’m fascinated (and often left scratching my head) by what we do know about the Universe. Stellar cycles, distance, relativity - this and much more enthralls me. Yet what fascinates me more is the unknown; many scientists like to think we live in a golden age of understanding when in reality we know so little about our Universe that 95% of it still remains a mystery! The Big Bang Theory is the most accepted explanation for our existence in our Western World, but it remains a theory and there are many others to consider. And that’s just our Universe, it’s incomprehensibly large and yet is probably but one tiny component in an infinite Multiverse.

Each time I gaze up at the stars the wonder of this unknown fills me up. The long exposures required with night photography provide me with time to appreciate my surroundings and revel in the diverse beauty of the cosmos. No two nights are quite the same for an artist working after sunset. Colours in the sky change regularly, as do the diverse range of seasonal subjects and one off encounters. The Milky Way, the Aurora, Lunar Phases, Planetary movements, Eclipses, Seasonal Constellations, Zodiacal Light, Meteor Showers, Atmospheric Glow, Comets and more add up to provide a huge amount of creative potential.

Thankfully I have found someone to share these experiences with. My partner Helen is the other half of (and arguably the brains behind) Viridian Skies. After graduating together in Wildlife and Media, we travelled across the UK. After a year we discovered the wonderful Dumfries and Galloway; light pollution free skies, Scottish landscapes and wildlife. Not to mention the friendly, welcoming, creative, wacky folk that inhabit this little corner of Scotland.

Together Helen and I run Astrophotography and Stargazing Tours, whilst exhibiting my images nationwide. Helen often accompanies me into the night and having someone to share these incredible experiences with makes it even more enjoyable. It’s easy to forget that we are not separate from the Universe. We are the Universe. We’re made of it, and yet our consciousness that drives this living Universal matter could be seen as a mystery.

We both believe it’s important to nurture our connection with the Universe. The designated Dark Sky areas across the World make this possible for a handful, but for most it requires more than just stepping out of a front door. It would be tragic to loose our visual connection with the Universe to light pollution, and through our Tours and Photography we aim to inspire more people to experience the wonders of the night sky. Visit our website and the Galloway Photography Collective Website to find out more. Our latest exhibition is in Designs Gallery and Cafe in Castle Douglas.

Jesse Beaman
Stargazing Scotland

Monday, 9 May 2016

Kim Ayres - Photographing The Storyteller

"Carstramon Woods would be ideal," said Tony. "In the later afternoon and early evening the sun is at the right angle to cast a good light through the trees."

Tony Bonning is a storyteller, musician, writer and children's entertainer, and was after some new publicity photos. We were discussing the idea of the mysterious traveller in the woods - at the heart of many old folk tales.

When I first met Tony, ten years ago on a Storytelling Workshop he was running, I was not a photographer - my photos were snapshots like anyone else's. At that time I was planning on becoming a writer and the art of storytelling was something I was intensely interested in.

Although my career as an author never took off, storytelling found its way into the core of my photography once I began to use my camera in earnest. I realised the best photos were ones that prompted questions, evoked emotions and transported us to other lives, worlds and perspectives. If a photograph doesn't tell, or hint at, a deeper story then it rarely keeps our attention for more than half a second.

I established my reputation creating mean and moody black and white portraits. Once you move away from the smile-for-the-camera approach, the face is full of amazingly subtle shifts of expression, with a thousand stories to tell.

Over the past couple of years I've taken that idea of storytelling photography beyond faces and into full on narrative photography - creating scenes that look like film stills, movie posters, storybook illustrations and album covers. These are images that require attention not just to facial expressions, but outfits, props, location and, most importantly, the story to be told.

So I was rather pleased to be asked by Tony to create the right imagery for him.

A chance to do storytelling photography for a man who embodies storytelling.

As always, you can click on the images for larger versions

Kim Ayres