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

Product Photography

Making goldfish food interesting*

*To anybody that isn’t a fish of course. Now we had a small blue fish staying with us recently. However, I’m told she was fed on Haggis pizza rather than this stuff. So what do you think – a pizza rising triumphantly out of the water, Excalibur like..Would that be a good advertisement image? I suspect not. Still, fiddling about with flash, water, high voltage and fish food is a good thing to do. This was random post number 203 out of 204.


Peppers are not the only fruit*

As an interlude to all this rock ‘n’ roll, stage diving, guitar heroics, Dean Friedman and general chaos and mayhem – sometimes it’s just nice to get away and light a pepper with a couple of lights just how you like them. It’s just you, the lights, the camera and the veg. Time to relax a little…Of course, while this shoot was going on we had a bit of Queens of the stone age playing in the background and seconds later I slow-dived into a sack of Greenvales finest King Edwards.


* Sorry Jeanette.

Pavlov’s Dog and Easter Chocolates.

Here at the 80eight media-pod, Good Friday came bright with a hint of sea mist and brine…Yet, no chocolate. ‘Tis true I’m afraid. We’re on a choccie and sweet free kick at the moment. Hence, as I was combing through my stock photo library I came across this shot taken last year and was transfixed. And for the first time ever I swear I could smell chocolate in my nostrils. Is that merely a Pavlovian response to the sight of such glorious, glossy delicacies? Or have Steve Jobs and Apple secreted a scent emitter somewhere in my Mac that scans the images up on screen and releases a scent that matches? I can see the benefits of that latter suggestion, but also the drawbacks. Front row at Sumo wrestling? No thanks.

Back to the lab and is that a bell I hear in the distance? Time to eat carrots. I should point out that was a poor joke for all you students of  historical Russian physiology out there. Happy Easter!

The lush pleasure of a ripe yellow plum

There are times when you simply have to grab a ripe yellow plum, shortly before scoffing it and/or turning it into jam (or is it a preserve?) balance it mysteriously on water, apply some bubbles from the 80eight bubble engine (c), ensure small children and animals are at a respectable distance and take a photograph. This is what you get – another in a small yet intriguing series of watery photographs. Again, no photoshop, just a bit of setup courtesy of Alex Koloskov. This is what happens when there is a chill damp wind whistling across the potato (sorry tattie) fields of The Borders and it’s just too cold to venture out.

Now then. Time for a jam idea. Yellow plum and ginger.  You have to try it – it’s sublime. Finally, turn the photo upside down.

Carrot Art / An existential ramble


It’s all about originality, ultimately. We’re all on the look out for something that will interest or excite the senses – something not of the commonplace or has not yet entered the lingua franca of everyday parlance, whether it be visually, literary or sonically. I personally, don’t consider photography to be art (so shoot me) even though I love it’s power, look and obvious place in history as a visual mover and shaker. Perhaps an image is art once it has been PS’d and manipulated into something completely different? I love being able to create photographs – but camera’s are actually very imperfect devices when compared to paint brushes for image creation. How many times has anyone with a camera ‘saw’ a scene yet upon pressing the shutter, something merely mundane was captured?

Personally, I like simple juxtapositions combined with eye-popping quality. Hence, one night I opened some pink fizz and put a carrot in it. I just thought it would look good. To me it does. What it could ever be used for I have no idea, but I think the important factor here is to be taking photographs out of joy, desire or need alone. Also, raw carrot and pink fizz is actually quite nice. You should try it.

Dandy Stag is following you


Have you ever felt as though you were being stalked by a stag on a tea-towel? Again, while walking around at the weekend, minding my own business, the dandy stag appeared on a tea-towel as I took a perfectly normal landscape photograph near the River Tweed. There is a famous philosophical quote about whether a falling tree in a forest makes a noise when there is no-one there to hear it. Is the dandy stag only visible when I point my camera at a piece of the gorgeous Borders countryside? Perhaps he inhabits some peculiar wavelength of light that is only picked up by the technological marvel that is the CMOS camera sensor and not the human eye.

Who are Orwell and Goode? Answers on a postcard please. Should other sightings occur, I will post them here.

Guilty Pleasures / WD-40

I adore WD-40. I love the smell, the colours and the logo, which I’m sure hasn’t changed from when I first started to use it in the 1970’s. And of course there is the damned usefulness of it. I use it on my push-bike, motorbike, for removing stains, chewing gum, sticky tape, spraying on anything rusty, electrical switch gear, taps or as a nice oily misting on salad. Even better is the website – it’s barking, like the internet was around in 1975 and people still bought Farah slacks from the back pages of the Daily Mail.

I love the pleasure of a new tin, the feeling of weight and expectation of a full on, fully pressurised spray. A while ago I got the real, undiluted trade version of it – just a tank of the stuff, no propellant just pure WD-40 and it was bliss. Nothing in the house dared squeak ever again – I could de-squeak a hinge at 20 feet whilst standing like a ninja assassin.

Unfortunately though, I haven’t yet found a direct use in our photography. Apart from, of course, taking loving portraits of it – like the image here. This image is destined for our stock library, usually a place for technically excellent, yet emotionally sterile images. This one is different though – looking at it I can see my first five-speed Raleigh ‘racer’ or my learner Suzuki GP100 all the way to my bigger, much more serious motorbikes and then a rusted adjustable spanner rescued from the bottom of my toolbox.

There’s a spaceship in the photo above. Aficionados of WD-40 will get the reference.

Beer, bands and guerilla marketing

Personally, I take great heart that in these days of sanitised experiences, health and safety and diets involving cress, that you can still rely on one thing : The close connection between rock bands and beer. Riders at gigs these days no longer feature ‘just the red’ M&M’s, Koi carp swimming in warmed San Pellegrino mineral water or quails eggs marinated in Stolichnaya and stuffed with caviar. They do ALWAYS feature beer though. Again as a spotty herbert I longed to drink a can of Special Brew, as that’s what my favourite band of the time drank (can you guess who they are?). When I did finally drink a can, it felt like someone had poured scalding bitumen down my throat whilst punching me in the stomach.

Some bands are so cool though that they create their own house beer to bring to gigs. Here we have an example from ‘The Warehouse Announcement‘ – one of the finest bands it’s been our pleasure to meet. A great bunch of guys, making tuneful, complex and glorious rock music that is funky, gritty, loud yet subtle.

I also think this slightly subversive use of product is a great guerilla marketing technique. Imagine leaving a can in a supermarket, or an empty in the bin. With enough cans, in a very short time a real buzz could be created. And knowing how Scott, Steve, Goldy, Bob and Paul get through a few tins, I don’t think that would be a problem 🙂

A dandy stag tea towel

It was a fine, but cold day in the Scottish Borders at the weekend. The snow drops were coming out and the river Tweed was a glorious silver ribbon threading it’s way through the fields and woods of Berwickshire. So I went for walk, with camera of course to maybe grab a few landscapes of the beautiful countryside. It’s amazing what you find in the woods though. Gingerbread houses of course, girls in red cloaks and of course bears eating jelly and ice-cream. I ignored all that though – way too passe.

I found this instead – a tea-towel imprinted with a very intriguing design – what I can only describe as a dandy stag wearing a cravat, pinned to a tree with clothes pegs. So of course I took a picture of it. What’s it all about? I have no idea. But it’s a great tea towel. Orwell and Goode? Who are these people? Why are they producing tea-towels with great pop-art designs on them and pinning them to tree’s? Who knows….I’m glad they are though. So, if you go down in the woods today, etc, etc.

The Ritual of Tea

In an earlier post I mentioned that we received a wonderful gift of tea from one of our customers, Donald, a few weeks back. Tea? I hear you say? What’s so special about Twinings or PG Tips? Well, it was something a little different to that. Not only was there flowering tea, but also exquisitely packaged circular tablets of compressed black tea that seem impossibly exotic and evocative of a faraway and and still to me, mysterious culture. I love the labeling, the use of Chinese characters and the realness of the paper used. The whole act of unwrapping them and popping them into a special little device that Donald also sent us, is an utter delight. I can see how the very ritual of tea can become so compelling. Soon I’ll be banging a little gong in the morning, to signify the first cup of the day is now ready.

What is it about ritual that is so compelling? Is it the feeling of a special kind of familiarity? Whether it’s the gothic ritual of Gormenghast, the pomp of Royalty or as here, the subtle pleasure of scented steam from a little bowl of black tea, it’s a very real pleasure . I think the distinction has to be made between ritual and that which is simply repetitive. Perhaps ritual has a certain kind of rarity about it? If that’s the case I will limit myself to one Chinese tea a week and stick to teabags and instant coffee at all other times.