Wednesday, 1 April 2015

Teenage Cancer Trust at the Royal Albert Hall

Mid-way though Friday my friend Andy Paradise unexpectedly phoned me up asking if I could assist him at the Royal Albert Hall for the final couple of nights of the Teenage Cancer Trust concerts, another photographer had left the job at short notice and an extra pair of hands were required.

This was an offer I could not refuse: the two nights in question would feature Noel Gallagher's High Flying Birds and Frank Turner, both of whose music I love. I, however, was to be in Bristol most of Saturday with my brother and nephew to visit the Bloodhound SSC factory. Bloodhound SSC for those who don't know, is a project headed by Richard Noble to create and drive a car capable of travelling over 1000mph. It was incredible to see and hear about and will be a future blog post here.

Anyway, back to the case in point. I had a 120 mile journey in-between the two venues and two hours to travel from one to the other. Normally such a long journey would be punctuated by delays due to roadworks, random lane closures because it was a weekend, an accident, slow congested traffic due to poor weather or simply all of the aforementioned! For once, the vagarities of the British motorway system were on my side and I made the journey in a little over 2 hours...

...without breaking any speed limits.

I arrived at the Royal Albert Hall and met up with Andy. My main task for the two evenings would be as digital operator, which entails taking the images as soon as possible after they have been taken, quickly selecting the very best images from the photo shoot, quickly editing the images in Adobe Lightroom, and then sending the images to the Teenage Cancer Trust media relations team and a picture agency for distribution to the media.

The two evenings went without a hitch. Andy captured many great images and the pictures were dispatched promptly by myself to the required parties. As a bonus I got to see the bands play when I wasn't working, up close and personal in the press pit at the front of the stage.

I didn't have my Nikon's with me so for a few souvenir snaps I had to resort to my iPhone. Although the quality does not come close to the pictures produced by a DSLR, smart phone cameras are remarkably good when the lighting complements their limited abilities. Compare the photos of Noel Gallagher's High Flying Birds and Frank Turner with the image of Idlewild below and you'll see what I mean. The image of Idlewild requires less exposure latitude due to the absence of a bright spotlight, which allows the iPhone to render the image in an adequate manner. A DSLR can cope with the high exposure latitude in the other two images far more effectively.

On a final note, visit Teenage Cancer Trust's website to find out more about what they do, they are an incredible cause. If you don't fancy that, why not take a moment to text 'GIVE' to 70500 to donate £5 to Teenage Cancer Trust.

Idlewild (Image taken on an iPhone. Note how the light in this scene can be captured effectively despite the iPhone camera's limited capabilities in high contrast and low light scenarios).

Teenage Cancer Trust, Royal Albert Hall, Idlewild

Noel Gallagher's High Flying Birds (Image taken on an iPhone. Note how the high contrast light in this scene exceeds the iPhone camera's limited capabilities).

Teenage Cancer Trust, Royal Albert Hall, Noel Gallagher's High Flying Birds

Frank Turner and the Sleeping Souls (Image taken on an iPhone. Note how the high contrast light in this scene exceeds the iPhone camera's limited capabilities).

Teenage Cancer Trust, Royal Albert Hall, Frank Turner and the Sleeping Souls

That's all for today. More to follow...

Thursday, 19 March 2015

Sometimes it is good to take pictures just for fun...

I've heard it said many times by photography colleagues that they often find the early joy they experienced when they started to learn photography has left them, especially after periods of press calls to photograph a celebrity attending a charity event or walking along a red carpet. These are certainly fun events to attend, but they frequently offer little choice regarding creativity and crafting a beautiful image.

To counter this I recently went on a walk with Jason Row, a friend and colleague for many years, around the Tower Bridge area of London. This is a glorious place containing views of the Thames River, the Tower of London, City Hall, The Shard, HMS Belfast, and the office tower blocks in the City of London. It was early winter so we had to wrap up warm, especially as we chose to stand in the middle of Tower Bridge to take the majority of our photos where the cold wind was blowing freely along the river.

We set up with our tripods a short while before the sun went below the horizon with our cameras set to long exposures of 30 seconds and upwards and chatted away whilst we took our photos. Why such long exposures you may ask? With the camera held still by the tripod, the static objects are rendered beautifully sharp whilst moving objects, the river and the clouds for example, obtain a gorgeously smooth ethereal look.

After they were captured the images required very little tweaking on the computer. From memory, the contrast was increased a fraction, the exposure lifted a bit, and a little extra saturation added.

A lot of a freelance photographer's time is spent editing images on a computer at home, this was a fun exercise which allowed me to explore the amazing city I live in, create some images I'm proud of and to catch up with an old friend.

City Hall, HMS Belfast, Shard & River Thames at dusk, London

City of London & River Thames at dusk

City Hall, HMS Belfast, Shard & River Thames at dusk, London

We then took the short walk to the Tower of London, where the art installation by Paul Cummins in remembrance of the British and Colonial servicemen who died in the First World War  'Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red' was nearing completion. It was an incredible sight and experience. There was a large crowd and finding space to take a long exposure photograph was tricky!

Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red, Tower of London

That's all for today. More to follow...



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