We did a quick shoot for TargetDry earlier in the summer. It was a fun day and had a great time wandering through the Mournes with good company.
Here are a few outtakes from behind the scenes.
The second day for Cow Parade wasn’t any better when it came to the weather. A constant stream of precipitation from the sky greeted me in the early morning while packing up the van. In the end, it was only the time we spent trying to get into the Ulster American Folk Park that it didn’t rain.
Our first location was the Folk Park. They didn’t give us a whole lot of time to scout and shoot, so we arrived early hoping to get in a get ahead of ourselves a bit. We didn’t succeed but made our way in with our trusty cart and our full sized Clarice on board. The first set up was the old street scene. I positioned her at camera left, back lit and side lit her with the Profoto Magnum reflector and the 600B pack. I love using the 600B, its great to know you have power and light when you need it, where you need it without worrying about gennies or extension cords and its reliable when used properly (more on that later). We did a few different set ups in a couple of locations at the park but the one below is my favourite from there. A nice hard light to pop the colours on Clarice and bring out all the texture of the cobble stone street. Its just a simple file with only 4 layers in total.
Next up was yesterday’s location at Castlewellan Maze, where we were rained out from. Today was still raining but not the crazy downpour from yesterday. We bagged the Profoto, both the head and the pack to keep them dry. Steve loves the weight and heftiness of the Arri C-stands so he mounted the Profoto on it and dragged it around mounted on a 40″ grip arm and head. This set up gives us lots of flexibility to boom the light up and over subjects and obstacles and is heavy enough in most situations so we don’t need to sand bag it.
We started with a set up looking back towards the park itself; the clouds were a dramatically amazing deep blue and contrasted nicely against the green hedges of the maze. We positioned Clarice and Eunice in what I can only imagine is a common situation at the maze, both trying to look over the hedges at each other. I like the image a lot, it has strong leading lines and great contrast and mood.
I like almost as much as I like the shot below, taken 180 degrees in the opposite direction. The feeling is a little bit more disjointed, separated from each other they are walking in different directions feeling the real thrill of isolation in the maze. We back lit Clarice and gave Eunice a kicker in the behind with the 600B. It was however around this time that we started having sync problems with the strobes. The Pocket Wizard receiver was inside the bag with the 600B unit and the heat of the unit building up must have created condensation which led to the pack not firing every time. After attempting to remedy this and continue on we have to give into the elements and call it a day.
I knew we had it all in the bag but like any photographer with a great scene I just wanted to keep on going. This particular frame has the mountain tops hidden by the clouds but the fields on the hillside are lit by sunlight, a break in the constant clouds that plagued us. This is probably one of my favourite frames from the whole shoot and I love the angry, frustrated expression on Clarice’s face. She’s wants out of there now.
That was it for day two and it was now a damp drive home with three soaked souls and one dry Larry dog.
Day three was to be just a short one. We needed to cover off the Marble Arch Caves in Fermanagh but Sunday was the only day we could do it and 9am was the only time we would get the chance to shoot without the tourists. We took Eunice with us since it would be impossible to get Clarice even through the door leading down to the caves. If you have never been to the caves its pretty interesting and has an extensive history. Eunice found it so interesting that she wanted to go for a boat ride, which is where we took our first photo. We back lit her, had a light on the wall and one on camera left in the water to pull a little definition out of the underground lake bed.
The second shot for the caves was further down into the caves beside a swift moving underground stream. In this photo we had a couple of lights on Eunice but I also dragged the shutter for 30 seconds to burn in some of the available light into the background and the pitch black walls. The long exposure gave a dreamy quality to the water.
We’re back to a new post, its been a few months and we’ve been super busy with both life and work. The new website and promo have both been paying off.
Enough of the business chat, let’s talk about some imaging.
We were called to photograph a project for the NITB, covering off the new launch of the Cow Parade in Northern Ireland. The Cow Parade is ” the largest and most successful public art event in the world since 1999, has been staged in 75 cities around the world and more than 32 million people have seen at least one exhibit.”
Now as most people know, Northern Ireland is never an easy location to shoot in; weather and terrain are always up against you in the battle of the “deadline” and this deadline was very much looming over our heads. With only 4 days to shoot in nine locations across Northern Ireland we needed to have a strong game plan and scheduling. Between NITB and the agency, they handled most of the scheduling and my assistants Steve, his brother Phil and I just needed to make it to each of them on time and be able to find an interesting angle and scenario to photograph the two cows we had. I should mention that yes, we did have two cows. It is not just one big full sized one, we also had a half sized “mini moo”. We nicknamed the large 98 lb full sized cow, Clarice and the mini was Eunice.
There were a few production issues with the cows at first, so we didn’t actually get them delivered until the end of the first shooting day. So that laid to rest any hope of getting it all done on time. However after a few phone calls we managed to get a couple of extra days thrown in here and there over the next week in case we really ran into weather problems.
The next morning, early 5:30 am, I loaded up the few remaining items into the van which the boys and I loaded the cows into the night before, and we all headed to our first location, the Mourne Mountains and Silent Valley Reservoir. Weather is the Mournes is never predictable and we were supposed to be in store for heavy rains for a week in Northern Ireland. We drove south towards the mountains and the weather was “okay”. The closer we got however, the more solid the sky became with cloud cover; nothing too dark and ominous, just solid cover with no definition, a photographers worst case.
Let me explain, photographers know only three types of sky.
1. Blue with no clouds which is okay to portray a summer day in the desert but never feels right anywhere else.
2. Blue sky with clouds which feels more realistic and gives the viewer something to look through besides the subject matter below (unless of course the subject is clouds, which in this case is perfect then).
3. Overcast with no definition, a barren whiteness of nothing, nothing for the viewer to latch on to, nothing for your eye to rest upon while it takes a break from looking at the subject material.
Today was a number three day.
All we could do was set up and hope that the sky would break for a moment. We climbed almost 300 stairs to the top of the dam at Silent Valley, an amazing view, when there is a sky. When there isn’t a sky and its just overcast and raining its hard to place where you are. There were times we couldn’t see the bottom of the valley and it felt like we were all sitting on the edge of a rock wall over looking a field or something.
Day one is completed, stay tuned for the rest of the NITB Cow Parade “Behind the Scenes”.
Seeing as this was our first day and I wasn’t too keen on falling behind schedule here, I announced that we needed to be out of there by 11am. We had the first shot set up and lit for 8:30, then came the waiting. We shot on and off between bursts of rain and cloud, hoping to get something. Then at around 10 am we headed back down towards the lower reservoir. We stopped off at the side of the road, near the most northerly point of the lower reservoir and I walked through the bog by myself to scout a site along the edge of the water. It was perfect and the clouds were starting to break a little. We might have a chance. The boys slugged it out with the gear and Eunice across the bog and we set up the shot. The only thing was that the wind was picking up and blowing poor Eunice over.
I only managed to get 3 frames before it just became impossible to shoot anymore.
We packed up and drove down to the main area of the reservoir, set up for a few more images but nothing really became of them. The wind, rain and cloud cover just got worse and worse; 11:30 am, time to move along.
And worse, and worse, we arrived at our next location at Castlewellan Park and the rain was just pouring down. The three of us were camped out in the back of the van, Larry the Lurcher had the whole cab to himself, while we watched our first day’s second shoot stream out of the parking lot. After about 20 minutes I got on the phone and we organized a wild card location, Jonesboro and Slieve Gullion.
I was not familiar with the area and had never shot before here. We had a contact from the local council touring us around. We made it to 3 locations in the area luckily and two of them turned out really nice. One was of Moyry Castle and the other was of a burial tomb or cairn but I can’t remember the name. I’ll try to contact the council and get it.
We trundled up the side of the hill towards Moyry Castle. It was starting to dry out a bit as the rain had stopped and that deep, damp humidity was beginning to set in. Larry was loving it, running around the hilltop and bounding through the tall grasses. We set up some lighting and lit the front of the castle, inside and a couple of on Eunice herself, making her stand out a bit off the grass.
The last location of the day, and everyone is totally bushed. We arrive down this old lane in the back woods of Armagh; drive down a farmer’s lane and the gravel ends and then brand new pavement (you know the kind, “brand new government pavement”, meaning there is something of interest down here) where it opens up into a small car park. On the other side of the car park can be described as little more than a big pile of rocks. Our guide Darren explains to us that this is a 5000 year old burial chamber and bones and artifacts have been found within it. Okay, now my interest is really peaked. Its amazing to think that this was constructed by locals 5000 years ago, astonishing.
Below is a photo showing Clarice in the front chamber which is comprised of a circular room with a smooth stone wall leading into the first chamber, then out of frame, a second chamber. I know about the pyramids in Egypt, Mexico, Peru and Cambodia but this is really amazing that the locals had the tools, manpower and engineering to craft such a delicate and finished structure.
We all walked around and over the mound for what seemed like forever, trying to find an angle or a good view of it. The problem was all the stones were covered with lichen and moss and were in effect camouflaged against each other. If was difficult to figure out the depth of the place. I finally decided to try a different view; down low from the front with Clarice walking past the camera. I’d light the outer and first chambers and try to give it some depth that way, by creating some contrast between rooms. I lit Clarice from overhead and back lit her to stand off the background and we pooled the light in front of her on the ground for effect. A graduated blue filter was used on the bleached out sky to give it some life. All in all I think it is one of my favourites.