Category Archives: Photography content

Band Promo shoot with In Isolation

I was asked by Ryan of the band In Isolation to shoot some promo material for them.

Last Saturday we headed off to Blenheim Industrial Estate, my local post apocalyptic  wasteland :-)

Blenheim-industrial-estate

We had arranged to meet up at 7:00 pm but I arrived at 6:45 just to check the site hadn’t been cleared and to quickly check over the individual shooting locations. I had been there quite a few times before, so I new the best spots, but I just wanted to see if anything had changed.

Once at the first location I set up the SB900 on a light stand with a reflector umbrella and took a few test shots. I wasn’t really happy with the initial shots so I decided to switch location.

The light stand I was using was one of those cheap and nasty flimsy stands from Amazon. It was so light that I had to weight it down with bags of rice to make sure it didn’t over balance. I decided to carry it extended instead of dismantling it to save time. Unfortunately for me it snapped in half under the weight of the flash and umbrella. Really good quality stand then?

Luckily for me the umbrella absorbed the full impact and saved my flash. So I was down one stand and one umbrella.

The second location wasn’t sheltered and made the use of the umbrella impossible. I had to resort to using non diffused flash which did result in rather harsh lighting. In future I’ll take bounce card with diffusion panel with me to soften the light when the use of umbrellas is impractical.

Once set up in the second location to my horror the sb900 refused to fire. I swapped the batteries out, but still not luck. I swapped top the sb700, still no luck. Then I realised what was going on. It was the limitations of the Nikon Creative lighting system that I was encountering. I simply didn’t have light of sight between the on camera flash and the off camera flash.

An important lesson learned. If I was ever to do this sort of shoot again I was going to need wireless flash triggers. The rest of the shoot passed unhindered. Here is my selection.

When I got home I purchased a 9ft tall higher quality light stand and a 42″ umberella softbox in case I was asked to so any further band promo shoots. After a few hours of research I settled on the Pixel king pro flash triggers A day later when the order was being processed I was having doubts about the triggers.
I had realised that I was going to want to increase the number of flashes I owed by buying some YongNuo YN-560 III‘s and I really didn’t want to have to pay an additional £60 for each additional receiver.

In the end I cancelled the order and invested in a YONGNUO YN-622N-TX i-TTL Wireless Flash Controller and two Yongnuo YN-622N Wireless Flash Trigger Transceivers. This purchase felt better. I’d have the controller on the d700 hotshot, a transceiver for the SB900 and SB700, and any YongNuo YN-560 III’s I purchased the in the future would be triggered by their in built receivers. Or at least I believe they will.

I just need another band promo shoot now, to try out my new kit and try not to break any of it :-)

How to boost Flickr traffic with kittens and boobs

So, you make a 7 hr round trip and spend £140 on diesel to go to a pretty coastal location. You arrive before sunset, scout out the location, find the optimum angles and then return to your camper-van for an early night. You then get up at 4:00am and after a rushed breakfast lug your heavy camera gear a mile along the coast to get ‘the shot’.

dunstanburgh-castle

Then after 3 hours of photography you dismantle your kit, head back to the car park and get a few hours kip, before heading off home.

After hours of processing the image is finally ready for uploading to Flickr. You add it to groups and it gets 300 views. After 3 years the image has got 457 views, 8 likes and 13 comments. Is it worth the effort?

I guess the answer to this is why are you taking the photo? Is it to get views?, recognition?, to sell stock or prints? I love this photo but I felt disheartened after getting just 300 initial views.

And now the complete opposite of this story. I happen to been I Leeds. I happen to have the camera with me, The house in which I am staying happens to have some kittens. I pop on the 50mm f1.4 and spend 20 mins taking some shots. Get home, tiny bit of RAW processing, upload to Flickr and title the images ‘Kittens’.

DSC_3051-Edit

BOOM!!!!

For years my Flickr account had been ticking along at 300 views per day. Now suddenly I’m getting 2,000 views a day and it lasted for months and months. This image is currently at 6,154 views and 25 likes. I guess everyone loves kittens.

But the story doesn’t finish here. Whilst I’m Shooting at Resistanz Festival I get a text message from Ryan McNally asking me to shoot Soma Sonic the following weekend. I arrived at the venue and started shooting the décor, the dj’ds, and candid shots of the crowd before moving on to my in-your-face-fish-eye shots. Ryan asked me to make sure I got some shots of the performers.

“Were these the topless body painted girls?” I enquired “Yes, they are going to be walking on stilts”

Now I think this was very clever marketing. The venue was awash with DLSR’s and when the photos of the topless body painted stilt walking girls got out onto the internet the traffic generated would provide invaluable publicity for the night.

DSC_8309

But there’s more…

The photos were published first to Facebook so people could start tagging themselves. This is great for me as it helps me promote guyberresfordphotography and great for Ryan as it promotes Soma Sonic

But then I got a message from Facebook informing me that one of my images had been reported for nudity. Next thing I know my account gets suspended. Facebook then tells me I have to delete all other images from my profile that contain any nudity to get my profile reinstated. To be honest I didn’t consider body paint to count as nudity, but Facebook is rather prudish.

I did what I was told. I removed the offending boobs! But then I moaned about it on Facebook which generated more publicity for my photos and Soma Sonic. Then I posted censored versions of the boob photos, generating more publicity.

facebook-censor

Do you like the little Facebook icons covering the nipples? LOL

Then finally I posed the original versions of the photos to Flickr and posted link in Facebook saying ‘uncensored versions can be seen on flickr

BOOM!!! …..again.

Even the kitten traffic couldn’t compete with males desperately in search of boobs.
Flickr traffic went through the roof. 9557 views in one day. I’m pretty sure that’s a record for me.

So it just goes to show. To boost traffic in Flickr you needs kittens and Boobs! Of course the natural progression of this idea would be photos containing kittens and boobs. This is my plan for world domination muahahahahaha….

I’m still waiting for volunteers and suitably cute kittens :-)

boob-stats

What is the best flash diffuser for nightclub photography?

I started photography back in 2009 shooting landscapes as apparently most photographers do.
At that time I had assumed that landscapes would be all that I would ever shoot, but now I’ve done sports, events, gigs, festivals, portraits, club photography and a wedding.

I do love the peace a quiet of landscape shooting. Getting up before dawn to catch the first light, the wonderful scenery, the solitude. It’s all very rewarding. However, shooting people, simply has more energy to it. It’s more dynamic, more changeable, faster paced, basically just more of a buzz.

Ok, so something about me, I’m a bit of a perfectionist, a little obsessive, or ‘focused’ and my friend Ben would say. Anything that i’m going to put my mind to, I need to do well. I guess i’m just crap at being crap.

Once I had decided that club photography was something was going to do, it was something I was going to have to become good at. I already had in mind the look of the images that I wanted to capture. Where there was enough light I wanted to shoot completely without flash. Where I had to use flash I wanted to use it to provide a subtle illumination to people’s faces. I wanted colourful interesting backgrounds and colourful interesting faces.

DSC_6420
I realise that all nightclubs are different, but the ones I end up in all tend to be very similar. Black walls, high black ceilings, with some spot lights and some UV. So, basically, bouncing the flash is out for me. All the time I see people trying to bounce the flash of the high black ceilings, generally I keep my mouth shut. I think that people prefer learn from their own mistakes in their own time rather than having them pointed out to them. I know I do.

And so I read and read. I do that. I’m an avid reader of photography forums and blogs. I never post anything, I just hang around in the background absorbing information.

I knew that I needed to let enough ambient light in to properly expose the background, either by upping the ISO or reducing the shutter speed (or a combination thereof), but I also knew that I wanted a soft flash.
I read up that diffusers scatter light, but don’t soften it. If I wanted soft light then I needed to increase the surface area of my light source. With bounce unavailable to me I considered all of the available options.

Best flash diffusers?

All of the reviews and comparison I read put the gary fong light sphere
and the rogue flash bender with diffusion panel to be the best.

lambency-and-ishoot-flash-diffuser
Of course if you don’t want pay so much money you can opt for the cheap Chinese knock off versions the lambency diffuser or the ishoot flash diffuser

The problem is that all of the diffusers tested, were tested purely on the softness and quality of the light they produced.

The tests did not consider issues such as:

  • Do they draw to much attention to you?
  • Are they too heavy?
  • Are the too big and bulky?
  • Do they fit to the flash head securely enough?

Admittedly I only bought the Lambency and ishoot diffusers, but in my experience they were both too big, too heavy, not secure enough and drew too much attention.

The Berresford Bounce Box

I needed a solution. I decided that I wanted a large surface area bounce card, that first diffused the light and then bounced it towards the subject. It needed to be light weight, relatively inconspicuous and have the ability to be attached securely to the flash.

Berresford_bounce_box

This is the design I came up with. So ok, its a bit rough around the edges, but you know what? It really works.  It weights almost nothing, doesn’t get in the way, doesn’t seam to draw much attention and it  gives a nice image.  I use a kaavie Universal Cloth Diffuser to first diffuse the light, and then the beauty dish shaped design to bounce the diffused light onto the subject.

I made what I now call the ‘Berresford Bounce Box’ by first making a paper template. I then by glued together a black and a white A4 sheet of 2mm craft foam from eBay using Evo contact adhesive. After drying for 24 hrs I used the paper template to cut the foam in sections with a craft knife, before assembling.

So far the only problems I have experienced with this design is is that it doesn’t collapse down in a camera bag and thus takes up a little too much space.  The other small niggle is that sometimes the bounce box slips down on the flash head and one of the tabs partially obscures the flash LCD display.

Despite these small issues I still much prefer it to using large bendy bounce cards or fong style Tupperware. Even if the original Lightsphere and the Rogue Flash Bender are as good as the reviews say they are, the size and weight are still going to be prohibitive for me.