Monday, 6 June 2016

Kim Ayres - Festival Photography

Dumfries & Galloway is full of music festivals across the summer - from Gatehouse Midsummer Music to Knockengorroch, Electric Fields to Moniaive and many, many more.

Whether you want the complete long-weekend camping experience or just to head off to a pub with a barbecue in a marquee with some good music, there's something for everyone.

And this weekend coming is one of Scotland's coolest festivals - Eden Festival.

Zoe Bestel showing off her new coat at Eden last year

One thing's for certain, this summer social media sites will be flooded with everyone's blurry, grainy photos of their favourite bands.

So how are you going to make sure your photos are the really great looking ones that everyone wishes they had taken? Here are a few tips to help improve your chances.

Keep the camera steady
The art of photography is all about understanding the camera's relationship with light: the sensor needs enough of it in order to get a clear photo. In broad daylight that's pretty easy, but much more difficult in the low light conditions of indoors, marquees and night time performances. To combat this, auto settings on your camera will start slowing down the shutter speed, and this means any movement is more likely to cause blur.

If you don't have a tripod or monopod, then find a wall or post to lean against - anything that will help keep your hands and arms steady. If all else fails, push the camera away from you until the strap tightens on the back of your neck, and that will help a bit.

Get in close
By default all phones, and most kit-lenses tend to be wide angle. This is great for taking in big scenes, or fitting a lot into a small space, but when you're in the audience, the band will appear tiny while most of the photo will be taken up by the stage, and all the people in front of you.

If you want to capture the action and expressions as the singer screams into the microphone, then get as close to the front as you can and use your zoom function. Be aware, however, that zooms exaggerate movement and so the risk of blur becomes greater, so once again, look for ways to keep the camera steady.

Sean Taylor at the Gatehouse Midsummer Music Festival

This is the professional photographer's secret weapon. Light from behind the subject separates it out from the background and makes it 'pop.' It can also create dramatic silhouettes and halos, and if there's a smoke machine - great shadows too.

King Charles at Eden Festival

Capture the atmosphere
While most people can be a bit suspicious of a person pointing a camera at them in the street, at festivals the mood is so different very few people mind. In fact, as everyone is constantly whipping out their phones to take photos, and loads of people take bigger cameras with them, it's completely expected.

So look for interesting shots away from the stages - people in fancy dress and outrageous outfits; groups huddled under an umbrella or covered in mud; someone dancing with complete abandon

Support your local bands
It's not just big name bands that play at festivals - in fact, a large amount of acts to see at any of the events in Dumfries and Galloway will be made up of local musicians.

The Mind Sweepers at Gatehouse Midsummer Music Festival

Until they hit it big, most bands can't afford a professional photographer, so are really appreciative of photos of them looking cool up on stage. So when you upload your photos the Internet, be sure to tag your local bands and let them know on their social media sites.

In fact, my own band, The Cracked Man, will be playing at Eden Festival this Friday at 5.45pm in Rabbie's Tavern. Come along and try out your photography skills on us :)

The Cracked Man at Eden - photo courtesy of Chloe Adams

Kim Ayres

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