Saturday, 12 December 2009

"Oi! You can't take pictures here!"

Had another shoot with the lovely Sorcha-Laoise (aka Sazza), this time in Glasgow. It was a bit of a marathon: she travelled down from Elgin on Wednesday morning, returned on Thursday afternoon, and in between times we tried to cram as many opportunities as possible.

Wednesday afternoon started with a quick trip to the Campsies for some waterfall nudes, although the tricky light and Baltic water meant it was nowhere near as productive as our last shoot at Fairy Glen. Back into Glasgow as the light fell for some outfit shopping, and then some indoor stuff at her hotel room.

Thursday... yeesh. Thursday should have been a day of opportunity, but thanks to the pettiness of overzealous local council employees, I came away with a bitter taste in my mouth. At the Glasgow Necropolis, two gardeners arrived on a motorised cart and told us we needed permission to shoot from the Parks & Recreations Department because, among other things, "the gravestones are protected by copyright". In a Victorian cemetery. I talked our way out of that by stating that neither model nor photographer was being paid, so it wasn't a commercial shoot, and I think they probably had too much work to be bothered chasing us.

Worse was to come, though. At the Kelvingrove Art Gallery we were chased off the steps by one of those eager little Hitlers, even though the shots were using Glasgow University as the background. There was no check to see if we had permission, no questions to ascertain if it was a commercial shoot. No, apparently SLRs just aren't allowed any more. A hundred to one we'd have been left in peace if I had a point'n'shoot or a cameraphone. Just to spite him, we went round to the front and took shots with the Art Gallery itself as the backdrop, but my mind wasn't in it any more and the pictures turned out a bit rubbish.

I know there's a lot of 'togs bitch about their commercial rights being violated by modern technologies. However, I don't see why laws can't be drafted which protect those creative individuals today, while allowing others to take advantage of buildings and public spaces which are over a hundred years old. And anyway, why do buildings have "commercial image rights" which seem to last in perpetuity, or at least as long as the building is standing? A work of art is created and copyright is established, but it eventually expires (70 years + creator's lifetime, or whatever). So why do the same rules not apply to buildings and structures, especially since they're in public spaces?

Money talks. That's the answer to the rhetorical questions above, of course. I suspect, though, that in their eagerness to protect their own interests, photographers who support the Draconian copyright laws which currently exist may in fact be eroding their future freedoms.

Friday, 16 October 2009

Sort of my own website

Since I signed up to several modelling sites lately (ModelMayhem, Purestorm, Net-Model and Freshfaced), I've begun to notice the restrictions that photo-hosting websites like Flickr and DeviantArt have, especially with regard to content filtering. It can be difficult to advertise/promote yourself if the art nude or gory pictures you've taken are being blocked by those sites' nannyish "won't somebody please think of the children?!" approach. More significantly, I'd like to be able to point clients at a single site and say, "there you go, have a look at all my work", without worrying if they've got prior membership or viewing rights.

The modelling sites themselves have only a very restricted amount of space for members like me: about 7-10 pictures in total, which is the absolute minimum I'd expect to deliver to a model/client for a single shoot. I understand that they need to try and make a living, but I'm a part-timer and likely to stay that way. If I'm already paying Flickr every year, should I have to pay MM, DA, PS, et all too, just for hosting the same photos? Blehh to that.

Anyhoo, after I noticed that Sazza, the lovely model from my debut shoot, had set up her own website, I thought that'd be a decent approach; a single site, no content restrictions, and I could filter out the crud that wasn't really relevant to modelling stuff. It took a bit of wrestling with initially, but once I figured out my way around it was fairly plain sailing. Therefore, ladies and germs, I can now bring to you:

gdelargy photography at

Tuesday, 13 October 2009

Fliss and Roxy

A couple more shoots with models lately, following on from my adventures oop north. At the beginning of October I met up with Fliss82, a Purestorm model who'd contacted me requesting my services as a 'tog. It went kinda OK, but not brilliant; the weather was very changeable, neither sunny enough nor wet enough for any real drama, and the wind was a bit of a pisser. I ended up with only nine pictures I felt were good enough for her portfolio, plus a couple of out-takes that might amuse her too. Very blah.

Fast forward about ten days, and I had a slightly more eventful shoot closer to home. My collaborator (she hates the word "model") was the extremely funky MM'er Roxy Stardust, who had contacted me a month ago, looking to work together. I threw a couple of ideas her way and she loved 'em both, so after a bit of to'ing and fro'ing, we planned a meet. I'd bring the chicken wire, she'd bring claws, fangs, and some fake blood. Now this is my kinda photoshoot!

Basically, I wanted to turn her feral ~ the kind of person you meet if your wandering through a post-apocalyptic landscape in a Hollywood blockbuster ~ and then have her chew through some mesh on her way to attacking the photographer. Think Shaun of the Dead meets The Road Warrior. The whole thing went swimmingly; Roxy brought a wonderful wee bag of tricks that included her own DSLR (Nikon D40) and a fake rubber arm, which we managed to incorporate into the finale as a kind of "what happened to the shooter after she chewed her way through the fence". A real blast of a day, and some good results too. Woo-hoo for me.

Sunday, 20 September 2009

Faerie in the Glen

I like to try a little bit of everything in photography, so a couple of months ago I signed up to, a networking site for models and photographers. I made a few contacts quite quickly, but I never did anything about it until I was on holiday this week.

I decided on a whim to take a trip up to the Highlands, specifically the Moray Firth near Inverness, since it's supposedly a good place for dolphin-spotting. It also meant I could contact Zombie Sazza, an Elgin-based model and rather fetching redhead who'd joined MM about a month after me, thereby letting me combine two photo-sessions into one trip. Despite the last minute arrangement (I'd only given the poor lass two days' notice), we were able to work something out: I'd travel up the next day and scope out a good location, we'd meet up on Friday for the actual shoot, and then Saturday would be free for the sealife.

The dolphins themselves proved to be a no-show, but everything with Sazza went swimmingly. We headed for Fairy Glen, a woodland area on the outskirts of a wee village on the Black Isle called Rosemarkie. The Thursday recce had confirmed it to be a great location, aside from the small problem of it being a popular haunt with local hikers and dog-walkers. There were a few occasions when my muse had to leap from her spot and grab a bathrobe, but although one elderly lady gave Sazza a good old Puritanical glare, we mostly only had to deal with puzzled expressions and the occasional wry smile.

I'd been a bit nervous in advance--'twas my first one-on-one modelling shoot and my first nude photography too--but it worked out fantastically well. It was Sazza's first time doing a "pro" shoot too, thought you'd never have guessed since she was so relaxed and easy to work with. The water was freeeeezing, but she could still hold a pose so well that I could take 1/4-second long exposures without any problems. We took pictures in the pond, beside/in/halfway up/above three different waterfalls, and along the stream where the light was best. On the trip back, we also nipped into a freshly turned-over field just outside Inverness (there were hunners of them), and captured a few of those old nude-reclining-against-haybales classics.

There was a moment during the day when Sazza had just finished a particularly tricky pose, clambering halfway up a waterfall to stand on a ledge while the rushing water acted as a flowing backdrop. When she was back down, I showed her the images on my camera's LCD to make sure they were OK. "You know," she said happily as she looked at them, "I think this is one of the coolest things I've ever done".

What a really, really great day.

Tuesday, 1 September 2009

Gears of war, part 2

A follow up to my post last year when I treated myself to a Canon 24-70mm f/2.8L, my most expensive lens to date.

Since then, I haven't really bought anything, being distracted by a car purchase which obviously drained my savings a bit. I'll post in depth about the car in due course, but it was bought with economy in mind; I wanted the cheapest thing to run that I could get my hands on, partly because I resented the high cost of petrol in the UK (where a teeth-grinding 70% of the pump price is tax), and partly because I wasn't going to save up for my ma-hoosive shopping list of photographic goodies if I had to keep a high-maintenance sports car fed, watered, and shod every month as well.

I got hold of a tiny wee diesel hatchback which can manage over 60mpg, and thanks to its parsimony my bank balance has been reasonably healthy since then. Still, the economic downturn made me think twice about splurging my rainy day savings on luxury items like camera kit until recently.

Now business is picking up again, and I've a couple of pressures on me to expand my shooting capabilities; I signed up to, and I've been thinking about expanding into headshots-for-thesps after making a few contacts over the summer. I'd need decent lighting equipment for both those, or a pro-quality flash unit at the very least--something I felt like I was missing when I shot the Sentinels of Rock'n'Roll in June. There were plenty of options out there, but I ended up going the flashy [sic] route with a Canon 580 EX-II.

I also felt like I could have done with an ultra-wide for the band shots, but there wasn't any imminent pressure to get one... except the Sentinels are having a gig in mid-September, and I'd like to get some decent shots of them performing in front of a crowd. Nuts, there is imminent pressure on me after all. After much back-and-forthery, I plumped for a Tokina 11-16mm f/2.8, my first third-party lens. I didn't have qualms; it has a better rep for IQ and sharpness than the Canon 10-22, is wider through the range, and is cheaper to boot. I'll have to upgrade it (to a Canon 17-40 most likely) if/when I go full-frame, but for now it should allow a few more photo-opportunities than were previously available.

In the middle of all this, I noticed an eBayer who didn't seem to be getting much interest for his Lowepro Rolling Computrekker backpack, my rucksack of choice. Despite being the bells'n'whistles version with a handle and wheels, nobody else was biting. After two failed auctions, he chose the "buy now or best offer" version, and I successfully lowballed him. My current rucksack is just a regular O'Neill backpack, so getting a dedicated carry-all for my kit is long overdue.

Some silly self-indulgence then, especially since my car is due its tax and MOT this month as well. Still, I have my fingers crossed that it won't bleed me dry, and I can continue my putting my pennies in the piggy-bank, with a 5D2 and more jazzy bits of kit as my reward.

Saturday, 22 August 2009

Big Splash 2009

I was supposed to go to this last year, but for some reason I missed out. Nearly managed to go 0 for 2 this year as well, but luckily I was alerted after it got a bit of coverage on the Friday evening news.

Basically, there's a short ramp on the bank of the River Spey in Aviemore, and folks take turns going off the ramp and into the water, by bike, skis, snowboard, shopping trolley, whatever. Competitors (or "idiots", as they're referred to by the organisers) are then marked for acrobatics, splash-size, audience reaction, etc etc. It's not exactly the superbowl, which is probably why it appeals to me.

It was my first big trip since my car returned to rude health in July, and I got a respectable 69.2 mpg for the 350 miles. Not quite as economical as I was hoping for, but there's probably enough room for improvement that I'll one day get 70+ for a tankful. And it certainly makes it easier to save up for camera goodies; a quick bit of maths-on-a-napkin suggests my old Escort would have cost me £65 more in fuel for the 1500 miles I did this month. Hence why I'll be imminently reporting on some new gadgetry for my camera, woo-hoo!

Monday, 3 August 2009

Birds of prey > lesbians

Over the past couple of months I've been tracking my most popular photo, a close-up of a hawk, as it was chased down in the "most viewed" group by a perv-magnet picture of two girls kissing one another. It's been obvious to me for a while that the race to be first to 1000 views was going to be close, and now that it's done I'm just preserving their respective daily stats here for posterity.

In the weeks running up to the big day, the differences were: 950-876 (12 July), 970-918 (19 July), 977-950 (26 July). In the last 28 days, 73 views for the fearsome avian glare, compared to 183 for the canoodling females; didn't look good for the poor birdie, eh? But a wee spike of activity in the final weekend made all the difference, and it squeaked over the finish line just in time. Of course, the lesbian kiss will quickly and inevitably become my most viewed shot anyway, but that close-up of the hawk will always be the first to 1000.

Tuesday, 30 June 2009

Sentinels of Rock'n'Roll

There was something uniquely satisfying about this commission. I’ve had paid jobs before, and I’ve been published before, but this was the first instance of a customer hiring me on the basis of previous work of mine that they’d seen.

The Sentinels of Rock'n'Roll are a newly established six-/seven-piece functions band, doing covers of classic rock anthems at weddings, bar mitzvahs, christenings, funerals, circumcisions, etc. They’re led by the husband and wife team of Alan and Lindsay Fraser, the former of whom was the musical director for Rent, a show I was hired to do publicity shots for a couple of months ago.

We arranged to meet in Maryhill, and got a few moody shots of the band posing by the Kelvin Walkway. Then as per Lindsay’s suggestions, I did a bit of post-processing to desaturate everything except their blue jeans. I went into the studio with them afterwards as well, but had less success there; an ultra-wide lens and good lighting equipment were needed, and I had neither. Still, it worked out OK altogether, and when they get themselves a gig I might just troop along and take some snaps for posterity.

Monday, 11 May 2009

La photographie bohème

Aside from the two publicity shoots I did for the Pantheon Theatre company, I was also at the dress rehearsal, to try and capture a record of the show for historic purposes. I was at my trigger-happy, quantity-over-quality worst that night, going through a record-setting one and a half batteries and four and a half CF cards in the space of three hours. Pitiful keeper rate, but we'll skip past that with a nonchalant whistle.

Anyhoo, Kazza B suggested that I just put all my photos on one CD for distribution among the cast. I was a bit reticent; there were almost 2700 shots altogether, and if I was just going to dump them en masse, then I wouldn't really get a chance to tidy them up with post-processing so they'd be seeing the worst of my work, and none of my best. Still, the customer is always right, so I did as instructed.

Nevertheless, it nagged me that I hadn't put together something a little more professional for them, especially since they'd crossed my palm with silver. I eventually put together a sort of montage, by picking out the best shots and matching them to the songlist for the show. I wanted to build up a kind of slideshow, but to my surprise Google's Picasa is a bit sniffy about adding music, so after trying out a couple of other approaches, I ended up just putting everything together in Windows Movie Maker and uploading the .wmv to Vimeo. It's not ideal, but I guess it'll have to do.

Rent from gdelargy on Vimeo.

Tuesday, 28 April 2009

Lesbians for Rent (no, really, I mean it this time)

In my original blog post a week ago, I expressed my mock outrage at how I was lured to a photoshoot for the Pantheon Theatre's production of Rent under false pretences: "There'll be lesbians there, G", promised my actress friend Kazza B, one of the ensemble cast. Yeah, right. Two men cuddling doth not a Sapphic fantasy make.

But here I now stand, chastened and corrected, and I hereby offer my sincerest apologies: Kaz, you are a lady as good as your word. Thanks to her logistical skills in organizing a second shoot, and the willingness of fine female fespians Beth Miller and Kelly Robertson to "get into character" at the drop of a hat (or a lens cap), I did indeed get my hot lezzie action. And to be absolutely honest--I've had worse Tuesdays. They may not be the most technically accomplished photos I've ever taken, but I suspect that once posted to Flickr, they will quickly become my most popular. I only hope the publicity material I was able to provide is sufficient repayment.

Sunday, 19 April 2009

Lesbians for Rent

Or not.

On Friday afternoon, shortly before the end of work, friend and colleague Kazza B asked me for a favour: would I be interested in shooting some publicity photos for her theatre group's latest production, Rent (at the Gilmorehill Theatre G12 from 12–16 May, get tickets while you still can, etc etc)?

To sweeten the offer, she promised me lesbians. Rent is a rock musical about some very Bohemian Noo Yoikers living in the shadow of AIDS, so of course there's going to be lots of very "not-middle-of-the-road" characters. If I could turn up with my camera, KB more-or-less almost sort-of guaranteed that there'd be nubile young actresses everywhere, getting into character by grabbing each other's wobbly bits and so forth.

No such luck. There were two quite hairy blokes getting it on, and I spent some time shooting them, but it just wasn't the same. Also, there was one pretty young lass in a see-through mesh top, skirt up to here, fishnets, and kinky thigh-high black leather boots, but she spent most of the afternoon draped over a red-blooded male. Last time I checked, there was nothing remotely Sapphic about that kind of behaviour.

So, KB, if you're reading this: you owe me some hot lezzie action.