Liathatch ridge walk1
Shooting fire: Practice Practice Practice0
neil posted in Photos, Neil, phototech on May 16th, 2008
Beltane is known in longhand as the Beltane Fire Festival. Thus there was to be plenty of fire on the night and I was covering fire point, whose speciality is fire. So I needed practice and got together with Firepoint and friends on the meadows. These are the pictures I came back with and a little on how I got them.
I had seen them practice this embrace plenty of times but always had my camera set for flash work. I was missing moments, particularly where the exposure varied at some speed. I wanted good skin tones from the girls and sharpness. Hence I opened the lens up to f/1.8 and set the ISO to 800. Aperture priority and some Japanese men working on algorithms in Canon HQ four years ago took care of the rest.
Fire poi is the classic Beltane shot. If you open the shutter for long enough you can get some kick ass trails going. I like a sharp(ish) face as well so I had to use flash, gridded so it did’nt spill where I did’nt want it. I set the aperture and ISO so the fire (and ONLY the fire) exposed neatly by shooting and chimping. I got the trail length about right for those settings by playing with the shutter speed (1/4th of a second for the above) and the flash did the work for the face exposure. It took a LOT of shots to get right, but you get good results when it comes off.
This was shot on the night itself, combining the above methods. I set the aperture and ISO for the fire f/5.6 and ISO 400 and then used aperture priority with a -1 bias to give me a good fire exposure as I moved (1/4 of a sec again…) and popped a gridded strobe from camera left for sharpness.
Edinburgh University vs Glasgow University boat race0
neil posted in Travel on May 10th, 2008
Took place on the Clyde today. I borrowed Tom’s 2x teleconverter and shot the racing with that, but my favourite pictures came from the novice rowing-machine race. Two girls and two guys from each university pulling as hard as they can in a 2000m total, 500m each, relay. The NOISE of all of their team-mates shouting and screaming in their ears. Edinburgh won the rowing machine race by 0.6secs but a dead heat was declared because the machine was kept spinning during change-overs by a non-novice.
Full photo sets here.
neil posted in Travel on May 1st, 2008
I’ve not posted any Beltane pics. They go to the society first. For now, I’ll tell you some stories of the night. Shooting for the Beltane Fire Society is a lot of work but it does seem to improve your images on the night and you spend less time fighting crowd. It has other effects too, some of which I’ll mention.
I was tasked with making pictures of the processional drummers when they stop to “drum off” near the main bonfire. They form a tight little circle and lay down beats. Shooting from the outside is futile, something like trying to sneak a camera through a threshing machine. I know this because I did it in the rehearsals twice before they invited me to shoot from the center of their little circle. IF I could get there.
The procession passed me by while I was in my pre-arranged spot and I saw the drummers closing ranks to their circle. I sprinted and all but dove into the center. Thinking ahead I had my 16-35mm lens, off camera flash all ready to go. When I got in, everything seemed to steam up. It was pouring rain, steam was coming off the drummers and droplets of water were flung into the air with each beat. In the background the bonfire could be seen. The noise was intense but I guess I just stopped hearing it and concentrated on shooting. The intensity of it grabbed me and carried me. All too soon a man with a loudhailer was making the Beltane toast and the procession started to move out.
In order to move out, the drummers first moved into a corridor from their circle, the procession moved thru this corridor and the drummers fell in behind. Trouble is, I had’nt rehearsed this bit as I only got in on the night. Suddenly I realised the procession was headed right for me and there was no way out. I was trapped. The procession is led by blue men with sticks who will beat you if you don’t get out of the way. I desperately motioned for the drummers to give me room to pass between them but they were wedged in by the press of the crowd and the width of their drums. Seeing the drums forced them to be slightly seperate I saw a desperate idea. I dove to the ground at the drummers feet and slithered out on my belly either between drummers or between a drummers legs. I have no idea which, I just did’nt want to get in the way or be whipped. It was suprisingly easy (thank goodness I had a beltpack not a backpack) and I popped into the crowd just behind the drummers. Perfect. I breathed a sigh of relief as I fell in behind them and we headed to the last stage of the event.
Beltane 2008: The camera killer?2
neil posted in Neil, phototech on May 1st, 2008
I shot Beltane with “photopoint” a team of eleven photographers and one carbon based flashstand that were shooting for the society itself. Hence we were well rehearsed, well equipped and ready as we could be. The Edinburgh weather, however, pulled a fast one. Glorious sunshine was replaced by a torrential downpour. Rain saturated cloaks, clothing, trousers, everything. Including cameras. Out of our team of eleven I know of three water damaged cameras. One minolta was knocked out completely, one 350D developed a mind of its own and started snapping away without askance and the same photographer’s hired 5D got water into its screen (this SAME photographer had a 40D error 99 its way out less than a week ago). An SB800 also bit the dust wheras two Vivitar 285’s held out all evening. My kit seemed functional throughout but is drying on the floor of my room just in case. I was glad of the extra sealing on 1 series cameras but why are’nt L class prime lenses as well sealed?
What kit rocked?
Muffalo: Montagne Extreme smock. Kept me near perfect temperature and dry despite the layer above being soaked thru and cold and only wearing one thin layer beneath it
MTB body armour: Perfect for kneeling on cold ground for a long period of time
Carhartts: The best trousers made by mankind, big American pockets for filling with kit in a hurry
I got lucky and the suckiest thing for me was my Street and Field beltpack trying to escape down my legs. My ST-E2 flash trigger/slave combo winding up on the wrong channel for thirty seconds or so. Rain drops on my lens and backlighting.