I was having a couple of weeks break over the past fortnight and decided to try and digitise some more of my slides & negs. However, I didn’t have that much success!
One of my main problems is this. For as long as I can remember I have been a Nikon user, so much so that when I needed a slide and negative scanner, I automatically chose a Nikon. And very good it has been as well except, when I tried to update the software and drivers etc, I was very politely informed that Nikon do not make scanners anymore and hence, there is no updates to the software! Now I fully understand about product loyalty, but I wonder what the head(s) at Nikon think about Customer Loyalty? Or does that not exist anymore at that level? Perhaps they expect their distributors to handle that tricky end of the deal!
Having said all that, here is a dreadful pic of a wonderful occasion. The original slide is perfect but the scan which I had to do on my all-in-one ain’t so good. The occasion was the first photo session of a brand new idea and invention in percussion, specifically Arbiter Auto-Tune Drums. This pic shows l-to-r, Ivor Arbiter the inventor and Music Industry legend, me (with a droop face as I am suffering from Bells Palsy at the time) and the great Carl Palmer, he of ELP holding a Snare Drum. Carl was a tremendous help during the final stages of testing the equipment, as was many other fine drummers including Jon Hiseman who toured the kit all over Europe with his various bands, Coliseum II. and Tempest with the late and great Irish guitarist Gary Moore. I guess the photo was taken around 1977/8.
Hi everyone, as you will be well aware, once again I am guilty of NOT posting to my blog on a regular basis. There are so many of you out there that I follow who are able to post every day! I only wish that I had the same…..whatever!
This time I have plenty of good reasons, but that is no excuse for not dropping the odd line now and then, and I am sorry for that.
Most of the time I have been attempting to get a website up and running. Somewhere, where clients and prospective clients could go and take a look at what it is I do. I have finished part of it and published, but I feel I should have waited a little longer and added more content before publishing. But what is done is done. I would appreciate it if you took a look and I would welcome your feedback. You can find it here http://www.magphotopix.co.uk .
I finished the photo shoot for Queenie May the young girl singer I told you about, and a shoot that I did last year for another album was for a singer named Robert Garney. That album is due out next week. And then last week I spent an evening shooting a heavy metal band named DeadManSugar. Talk about tough lighting conditions. I think the lighting crew had two scenarios, On or Off!!
It was very difficult for me, and a long time since I have shot any kind of concert or performance.
I had an enquiry from an old client who is a serial entrepreneur. In the past I have shot antique wristwatches for him, then he started a Sola Panel company and now his latest venture required my photo skills. He rang me to say that this was urgent and he needed me to shoot between 8 and 10 models for his new website and business. As it happens, I couldn’t fit it into my schedule and I had to politely refuse, but I passed him on to a fellow photographer – who as it turned out was also too busy. Imagine my surprise, when he sent me an email to tell me that the site was up and running and he gave me the address. It is an ESCORT AGENCY! The actual photos of both male and female straight and gay, are actually very good. The photographer he found in the end does nothing else except shoot glamour pics, and I must say that the photos are really very tastefully done. But when one starts to read the text on the site it soon becomes very clear what it is he is selling. When he rang me to ask my opinion I called him a Pimp! I said it in a half hearted kind of jokey way, but I meant it just the same. Needless-to-say, he was not amused and proclaimed his businesslike enterprise as being very much a service industry.
I am pleased that I didn’t do the shoot. Firstly, I have no experience in that genre and the pressure would have been to much. And secondly, it’s not a side of photography that I personally would enjoy, give me the outdoors and nature & wildlife every time. And I will leave the glamour stuff to those who are good at it and enjoy their work.
My Local Stomping Ground
As many of you will know I have been away a lot this year shooting wildlife and nature from the comfort of our new Caravan, hence I hadn’t visited my local wildlife area for a number of weeks. Imagine my surprise when I visited last week and found that people had been down there and ‘tidied’ up! Not only have they removed 90% of the reeds growing naturally in the water way, they have also poisoned all the Budleia which the butterflies absolutely adore. They have also, dredged the waterbed and dumped all the silt on the banks. Unfortunately, I didn’t see one Damselfly or one Dragonfly. No butterflies at all, whereas last year I took one photo of 7 butterflies on one bush! As a fully paid up member of my local Wildlife Trust I immediately got on the phone to enquire who had wreaked this havoc on the local wildlife. Yes it looks very pretty down there now, all the nettles cut and carted away great for people to walk their dogs and drag their kids, but nowhere for the insect life and the Reed Warblers and Sedge Warblers to build their nests.
The charming young lady I spoke to at the Trust was as alarmed as I was and said that she would investigate and come back to me with an explanation. Watch this space I guess.
Well I turned up an hour before the shoot was due to start and was directed to the ‘Guard Room’. It was just inside the portcullis. I got a backdrop up and a couple of strobes and did a few test shots and waited. The Record company boss turned up on time with the Make-Up Artiste and his assistant, we then waited for Queenie to show. Unfortunately, she had an art exam that morning and was late getting away from school but she duly arrived with her Mum about 45 minutes late.
Next the Make-up girl had to do her thing, unfortunately (unbeknown to me) Queenie is having some trouble with her skin/complexion at the moment and requested the make-up girl to use Queenie’s make-up. So by the time all was finished I guess we must have started the shoot proper about an hour late!
I had a couple of main problems:-
The record company had no specific requirements. Now this may sound fine, as I have free rein, however, if you don’t know what the customer wants, how are you supposed to give it to them? I would have liked to have had an idea of what the forthcoming album was going to be like. I mean was it going to be Katy Perry or Ethel Merman?
The Guard Room was cold and it was giving Queenie goose-bumps on her bare arms.
We had too many people in the ‘studio’ which was having an effect on Queenie, bearing in mind she is only 15 years old (hence the skin probs).
The complexion and the Goose-bumps caused me so many problems, trying to hide them as much as I could via the camera, to save me time in post production.
Anyway, we finally finished, Queenie was a little angel. She never once complained (even though it was obvious she hadn’t done any modelling before) and she just tried everything that people were shouting out to her (including me, but I was allowed). The last thing she said to me as she left was “thank you very much and can you please touch-up my skin before you submit them?” I repied that I would add a little blur here and there if it was needed, she said “NO not a little blur a whole lotta a blur!” And she was deadly serious.
I must say that I did need a lot of time in the digital darkroom but at the end of the day the record boss selected about six or seven shots that he liked and that was that. As many photographers will know, it is strange how the client never choses the photos that you think are the best. They always chose the ones that you wished they hadn’t for various reasons.
I have included a small number herewith, not fantastic I know but chosen by the company. Please feel free to comment, I would welcome any feedback good, bad or indifferent.
I am just about to leave the house to go to Caldicot Castle. I have a commission to shoot a new young girl singer, her name is Queenie May and she appears to be about to break into the big time!
She certainly has a very sweet voice from what I have heard, but I’m sure most of you will know that it doesn’t end there, sometimes it doesn’t even start there! Image is so important and of course the quality of the song. Apparently, her single which was released not so long ago was released very surreptitiously and yet still managed to make the number 4 spot on the Amazon Chart. It is currently at 34. Not bad at all for a first release from a singer with a self penned song.
Once the shoot is over, and the pics processed I will post some for your perusal and feedback. Meanwhile, Queenie – who incidentally is only 15 – can be found on iCloud and Facebook.
I was going through some old images recently and found these.
The Rikki Alan Trio was my first Pro group. We formed in about 1957 and used to play all the rock numbers of the day and especially the Everly Bros. Both Rikki (bass) and Gerry (guitar and Piano) were brothers and the close harmony was excellent.
Next came the Interns. This band was sponsored by Ivor Arbiter, he was the man who got Ringo to play Ludwig drums. Those eagle eyed amongst you will notice that the Interns logo on my bass drum is not dissimilar to the Beatles logo. That is because both logos were painted by the same guy. A one armed sign writer who worked for Ivor at Drum City in London in the 1960’s. It’s amazing when you think that today, millions of pounds can be spent on designing the most effective logo and yet back then, it was designed by the sign-writer and the Beatles just accepted it!
Next of my pics here is with the King of Skiffle Lonnie Donegan. Lonnie was never huge in the States although he did have one big hit there which was, “Does Your Spearmint Lose its Flavour on the Bedpost Overnight”. However, in Europe he was huge and has the reputation for starting the whole Beat Boom in the UK. Every kid went out and bought a guitar and formed a Skiffle Group when Lonnie’s first single ‘The Rock Island Line‘ went to No 1! Even the Beatles had a Skiffle group, they were called the Quarrymen. Many years later Singer/Actor/Record Producer Adam Faith got a whole load of the guys that were influenced by Lonnie together and they made and Album. If my memory serves me right I can recall a number of the names, Elton John, Rory Gallagher and Brian May plus a whole bunch more. Sadly Lonnie passed away in 2002 from heart problems, he had , had three heart bypasses in previous years.
I have some great memories of working with Lon at some of the greatest venues in the world, including the Riviera Hotel in Vegas for a couple years on the trot. The Greek Theatre in LA, Harrah’s Hotel in Lake Tahoe, The London Palladium, The Talk of The Town London, with Judy Garland and in Australia, Iceland, and all over Europe. Many stories to be told, stories of working with (either playing for or supporting) Dusty Springfield, Ray Charles, Count Basie, Vic Damone, Judy Garland, Englebert Humperdinck, Dean Martin, Bill Haley and Little Richard to name just a few. A great way for a young guy from a small town in Wales to grow up. And a number of coincidences of which I intend to post at a later date.