80:8 Photography : Video : Sound : Bands : Portraits

Archive for February, 2011

Hipstamatic and Live Music

Of course there is something deliciously ironic, if not slightly mischievous about hooning around with a dirty big white 70-200 zoom lens at a live gig, only to get your iphone out and take a Hipstamatic shot. You get some funny looks for sure. Again, not good quality, but is the quality actually in the feelings and sensations they evoke? Probably I’d say. I really like the shot on the right, for it has an ancient feel completely at odds with the synth’s and keyboards. Also, this particular stage is lit with LED lights as opposed to halogen and I think the iphone and Hipstamatic makes a better job of them than my Canon. How can that be? Anyway, here we have Dupec on the left, and Epic 26 on the right.



Voltage @ Electric Circus 24/02


Our promotional video from the first Voltage night at Electric Circus is now live! Featuring exclusive acoustic performances and interviews with Epic 26, The Stormy Seas and Dupec, it really gives a taste of what Voltage is all about. Keep an eye out for the full interviews and performances from Epic 26 and The Stormy Seas coming soon. It was a great night, a really eclectic mix of music and energy charged performances. All ably organised by Joe Hendry.

For more info, check out the Electric Circus website.

Bowen’s Beauty Dish / Glorious Portraits

A beauty dish is the ideal one light, guaranteed , glorious light modifier than anyone really serious with their portrait photography should invest in. Also they are small and rather easier to transport when compared to a dirty big softbox. I use a Bowens beauty dish and here’s an example of a single light shot. The light sculpting around the models cheek and collar bones is sublime. Here the light was high and camera right, pointing down. But you know, play with the position and see what you get. More on light modifiers coming soon.

Voltage @ Electric Circus, Edinburgh

We were lucky enough to be invited to the newest and most exciting live music event for the best unsigned bands in Scotland tonight – Voltage at Electric Circus. And what a great gig it was. The place was jam packed and the variety of bands and music was just absolutely spot on. From the Nu-Folk / Crass / Punk influenced ‘The Stormy Seas‘ to the Post Hardcore / Grime of ‘Dupec‘ to the Dance / Rock / Electro of Epic 26 there was not only something for everyone, but a real showcase of young Scottish talent. I’m old, decrepit and grey but the music and energy almost made me delay my hip replacement.

Electric Circus is just the perfect venue for this kind of event, great sound, great lighting and great organisation. We’ll be going again. Anyway, here’s a few photo’s from the event, but keep an eye out for some incredible video, exclusive acoustic sessions and interviews conducted by Joe Hendry of Lost in Audio – coming soon!

Apple Mac or PC ? Do you REALLY need to ask?

I admit it, I do love, or rather deeply admire Apple products. I really wouldn’t use anything else for my photo, design and video work. OK, the initial cost of ownership is perceived to be high but if you are trying to run a business I would say over a three of four year period you recoup the costs easily when compared to buying a cheaper PC. There is also something more subtle about a Mac and OS-X, the Mac operating system, in that it’s unobtrusive, simple and elegant and both lets you do exactly what you want to do, but is also strangely encouraging of anything vaguely creative – whether it be writing, photography, design or whatever.
I bought my first top of the range iMac four years ago for £1000. In those four years it never broke, never locked up, didn’t get slower and never needed a rebuild. All my time using it was spent doing what I wanted to do – not keeping it in good health and tinkering with it. I bought a new 27″ iMac a few months ago as my old machine was starting to struggle with editing HD video from my Canon 5D and here was another great, if not amazing benefit – that of migrating from one machine to another. With a Mac simply boot them up, connect them with an ethernet cable, let them talk to each other and a few hours later, your new machine is an exact replica of the old one. It’s incredible, it’s easy and very reassuring. I could also bang on about all the free stuff you get, how great they look etc, etc, but you know all that. All I would say is think past the initial purchase price, divide it by four (years) and think how valuable your time is – is it spent better on sorting problems out, or simply doing your stuff?

Take One Minute / Parkinson’s Disease

Take One Minute is a little side venture for 80eight – which despite the seemingly serious nature of the material still allows us to include great photo’s, design, video and music – everything we love! The website is currently undergoing a bit of a facelift at the moment, so it’s looking a little disjointed. However, once it’s done it’s going to blow everyone away! We’re going to get as far away as possible from the kind of clinical look which similar sites use and do something more associated to fashion and bands. Why? The intent is serious. The message is serious, but we’re hoping that another side of illness can be seen and it’s one that Colleen lives every single minute of every single day. Life is still there to be lived to the full. Check out the video’s on the site. Call if you want to discuss anything. And you know, enjoy the photo’s.

Another subtle use of Bowens Flash

I just love Bowens flash. It’s really well made, tough, reliable and while relatively pricey it’s not eye-wateringly so and more importantly their flash-heads pretty much cover all price ranges. Here’s a shot of Ellen, again very subtly lit with a softbox very high on camera left. I this one because there are no catch lights in Ellen’s eyes which is always a dead giveaway for flash, but more importantly in this case, really shows off their wonderful colour. I actually really like portraits where the subject isn’t looking at the camera, so this one certainly fulfils the brief.

Using Flash in Daylight

Here’s an example of a rather more unobtrusive use of flash when compared to a previous post. This is Zuzana Gibb of Kerdova Print who produces incredible and beautiful handmade silk-screened wallpaper and fabrics. The shot was for her new collection catalogue and we wanted to do something vivid, hyper-real and quirky. It was taken in broad daylight…So why and where is the flash? Broad daylight / sunlight – isn’t great as it’s harsh, contrasty and you either lose detail in the shadows or blow out the highlights. Hence the flash is used to balance out the relative exposures of the various zones that make up the image. Here two flashes were used – pretty much at full blast to balance out the sunshine. Flash one was a beauty dish placed high and aimed at Zuzana. This allowed me to expose for her correctly and slightly darken the sky. The second flash was bare-bulb, lying in the grass and pointing up towards the wheelbarrow as this had a broad shadow lying across it.

I think it worked really well. Without flash it would have been very contrasty, yet with it, although the image is ‘false’ from a natural lighting perspective, it doesn’t look obvious and I hope most people wouldn’t even consider that flash had been used. The next time I do one of these types of shots I’ll do a before, after and setup image so you can see what’s going on. As for the flashes themselves, I used Bowen’s Gemini 500R’s which are just great – versatile, powerful enough and portable with the battery pack. I love them. I’ll do a review of them at some point.

If you check out the Kerdova Print website, you’ll not only see the most wonderful wallpaper, but a few more of our product shots.


I remember reading somewhere, a long time ago, that the crashing and roaring of the surf could send a person insane. I never really considered this statement as having any sort of strength as my experience of the ‘surf’ is benign warm waves lapping gently against a Mediterranean beach. This place though, which we visited today whilst out scouting for locations, could, I’m sure, do such a thing. The sound of the waves are all encompassing. It’s like the whitest of white noise with an ominous and relentless thunder mixed in. The day itself was cold, grey and windy and the sense of aloneness, as distinct from loneliness was almost palpable. With windows facing the sea, I could imagine staring out at the surf, never being able to escape the thunder and boom of water grinding rocks and stone to dust. I would I think, grow a huge beard, develop a gimlet eye and mutter curses under my breath.

Luckily though, I walked for 15 minutes, got in the car and drove home – photo’s secured and safe. What a place though! Simply amazing. And while it’s much to cold and grim to think about using it within the next few months we’re definitely going to be back with a lovely model, in an over the top dress with great hair and makeup. It’s going to make a great shot.

Oh I know – rule of thirds employed here – no rules broken. Will try harder next time!

CD Art / Idiotcut / MIA

The first CD cover we ever produced was this one from Falkirk based band Idiotcut. I have very fond memories of the photoshoot as it was incredibly cold and wet as we tramped over to our secret band shooting location, located somewhere in East Lothian. This was exactly a year ago. Six months later the band played at the Rowchester festival then vanished – Missing in Action. Which is a great shame as their music is wonderful – detailed, layered, sophisticated pop/rock with a danceable edge and all underpinned by the  angel like voice of Ross Anderson. It’s really good stuff. If the guys read this – please get in touch! Remember you promised to play at Colleen’s 50th Birthday (not for a while yet!)

These two photo’s were almost afterthoughts – we had got all the shots we wanted in the bag and as we were packing up I noticed a rotten old door that I hadn’t been through before. Inside was a tiny little falling down room with great patterns of rot and staining on the walls. We placed our ‘Old Master’ at the back, brought the band in and I got a couple of shots with my cheapo Nissin flash and they came out great and the band just loved them. It pays to keep your eyes open on a shoot and not just follow the plan. If something grabs your attention, it’s likely that it will grab someone else’s.