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

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