Unholy Racket Music Pics: Blog http://www.unholyracket.co.uk/blog en-us Unholy Racket Music Pics 2011-2017 contact@unholyracket.co.uk (Unholy Racket Music Pics) Fri, 31 Oct 2014 02:08:00 GMT Fri, 31 Oct 2014 02:08:00 GMT http://www.unholyracket.co.uk/img/s/v-5/u27184854-o972652624-50.jpg Unholy Racket Music Pics: Blog http://www.unholyracket.co.uk/blog 120 120 Spine Tingling Zola Jesus Performance http://www.unholyracket.co.uk/blog/2014/10/spine-tingles I never begin a blog post without promising to do more, but this time the world of social media and the real world has forced my hand.  Most of the gigs I cover from now on will be featured here on the website, and be accompanied by a few words.

Tonight was a long time coming.  I have wanted to see Zola Jesus live for ages, and hadn't realised that it was four years since she had played the UK until she said so tonight.  It was also my first visit to The Belgrave Music Hall in Leeds too (which is unbelievable!)

So here are a couple of thoughts on both....

Zola Jesus

Mika Roza Danilova is better know by her stage name Zola Jesus, and it has been way too long since she last visited.  A new album, Taiga, brings her back to these shores.  She is a really thought provoking artist.  The first impression is that she sounds like.....  I know, it is a hideous life being a female singer in that voices get stereotyped all the time.  I often argue about just how much of a problem this is and that it should be avoided at all costs.  

So, she sounds like Zola Jesus, with several of the often mentioned influences.  The new album is a lot more bouncy and upbeat then previous works in places.  She is also brunette, not blonde.  What hasn't changed is her ability to set the spine tingling.  She switches between soaring melody and descent into nervous breakdown on stage effortlessly.

She is a joy to take pictures of if the light appears at the right moment. 


 Pauses in a song are often accompanied by her hair being thrown around and a collapse into a state of despair.  

She is breathtaking to watch and definitely has the ability to send shivers down the spine. This was the second date of her tour and she is definitely one to catch if you get the chance.

Belgrave Music Hall - Venue

I can't believe it has been a year since it has been open and this is the first time I have taken pics at the Belgrave Music Hall (particularly since the opening night featured one of my favourite bands!).  I've visited a few times to sample the beers and the food (both of which are cracking), but never been to a gig there.  It's a great venue though.  Nice and open, with a few different levels. Clearly some thought gone into the layout with quite a lot of seated spaces and a nice open stage.  The lighting rig is a joy compared to most venues of the size as there is actually some attention to lighting the front lip of the stage.  I like it, I like it a lot.


contact@unholyracket.co.uk (Unholy Racket Music Pics) belgrave hall jesus leeds music zola http://www.unholyracket.co.uk/blog/2014/10/spine-tingles Fri, 31 Oct 2014 02:07:27 GMT
Fecking Heckling! http://www.unholyracket.co.uk/blog/2013/6/fecking-heckling As usual I am starting my blog with a promise to actually put some effort in and keep it up to date......  Believe that when you see it!


I, somewhat unexpectedly, popped along to see Midge Ure last night.  Not unexpected in so much as this wouldn't be a gig I would like to have gone to, more from a had no plan but ended up going anyway.  I am writing a review for one of the magazines I occasionally do bits for so won't go into the whole gig here.  Instead I wanted to cover the topic of heckling.....


I quite often have pub debates about acoustic gigs.  The argument usually goes along the lines of me saying 'you can tell a great song if you strip it down' and everyone else saying 'That's utter £$£%'.  Anyway, I am sticking to my guns.  Midge Ure has been involved in an amazing body of work over the last 35 years-ish.  If you go to see Ultravox, you don't really get how good his collection is.  If you go to see him solo then you get a sense of just how prolific and fine his back catalogue is.  The songs absolutely stand the test of time. 

The acoustic shows are also enhanced with entertaining tales in between songs. The insights serve to make a great connection between artist and audience and add some colour to the evening.


The most famous of all of these songs, 'Vienna', is particularly awe inspiring to see played on nothing but an acoustic guitar.  Midge delivers the tune with all the passion it deserves and strains his vocal chords in the process. The crowd listen and hang on every word with rapt attention and explode into applause as the song comes to an end.  Midge inclines his head to acknowledge the appreciative audience and the crowd and artist are in perfect harmony. As the applause drifts though, from the back of the room, comes a very well oiled heckle in a Glaswegian accent. The words are those that must haunt Midge Ure where-ever he goes.....  

'Joe Dolce', a dramatic pause.....  

Midge looks into the darkness of the crowd, not believing what he has heard.  The applause faded now into nothing.  It is high noon now between artist and heckler.  The pause is broken by the second ill aimed shot from the drunkard at the back,

'Joe Dolce!'.  

Midge takes a deep breath, one full of the the weariness that only 30 odd years of hearing the same thing can bring.  He clears his throat,

'In some parallel universe, Joe Dolce is standing on this stage.  Some sad bugger just shouted 'Midge Ure' at him......'  

His aim straight and true, as only a seasoned gun slinger could manage brings down the drunken heckler, but as if he needed to make sure no further shots were fired....

'...but I doubt it'

I can't imagine how hard it is to be up on a stage presenting your life's work for an audience.  Harder still, to imagine facing the same tired tale, inarticulately delivered as it was, for 30 odd years. It was great to see a immensely talented performer deal with heckler with all the aplomb of a seasoned stand up comedian with years of experience on the club circuit.  

I do not know what possesses people to make loads of noise or heckle performers at acoustic gigs. It is an all too frequent occurrence and always sets my teeth on edge. These are fabulous opportunities to get closer to an artist and their music.... so when they are playing and putting it out there, is it really too difficult to just keep quiet and appreciate?



contact@unholyracket.co.uk (Unholy Racket Music Pics) acoustic drill hall lincoln lincoln midge ure ultravox visage http://www.unholyracket.co.uk/blog/2013/6/fecking-heckling Sat, 01 Jun 2013 00:30:47 GMT
Catching Up: Practise make perfect! (1 of 3) http://www.unholyracket.co.uk/blog/2012/11/stakes-in-the-ground Been a bit busy recently and not blogged much.  Of course this doesn't mean I haven't been busy, just the opposite. I have been too busy to get around to writing about it. So this is one of three catch up blogs, that picks on the three big gigs in my calendar and misses out on a load of stuff that would be interesting enough to write about if only I could find the time to do it.  The gigs that I had planned my calendar around were The Fields of the Nephilim, Carter USM and The Levellers. There is an awful lot of planning goes into gig photography. Access to take photos at these gigs takes a ton of arranging and it is getting tougher and tougher. So I take each one pretty seriously....


First up, The Fields of the Nephilim. If ever there were a band that deserve respect when it comes to gig photos then it is The Fields. Notoriously difficult to shoot due to dark conditions and huge clouds of smoke/dry ice (last time they played Leeds the airport was closed for three days afterwards).


So I thought I would get some practice at low light shooting.  Two bands who I really like where playing together in The Stereo in York.  Berlin Black and the Shades of Grey and O. Children should be great to take pics of, but the Stereo is a pub back room with really tough lighting. The big issue with The Stereo is that the front lighting that should hit the band is actually too close too the stage to really help.  As soon as anyone steps slightly forward of the light then they disappear into darkness. Even if they stand in the perfect spot they tend to get a 'floating head' effect as the light hits the head hard and nothing else.  So Berlin Black's Shades of Grey all came out black and I really didn't get a shot that I thought would be worth sharing. From a gig perspective, the band seem to just go from strength to strength and put in a great gig. O. Children are a band I have been really keen to see again. I loved the first album, and the follow-up Apnea is something that has seen a fair amount of time on the car stereo. There are particular problems with taking pictures of O. Children in venues like this. Tobi, the lead singer, is one of the tallest folks I have ever seen. So the lighting at The Stereo, even if he stood on the perfect spot, hit his chest. The lighting was so dark that the auto-focus steadfastly refuse to connect with anything. I left the gig empty handed, a great wake-up call for a man a week away from a Neffs gig.


The debacle in York meant I needed to head out to my favourite place of practice. The Library in Leeds hosts The Flock club-night on the first Saturday of each month. It is usually defiantly dark and smokey. Zeitgeist Zero and Last July were playing in a nice looking double bill. Both bands put in a great set, but the lighting was really nice! This was clearly not was needed for a man on his last practise!



So, it was with much trepidation, that I turned up to take pics at the Fields of the Nephilim gig. The last time I saw them was at the Mission XXV gig in Brixton and the lighting was really tough. The gig had a similar 'event' feel with folks meeting up in pre-determined pubs in a celebration of a bands rare appearance. The line-up for this gig was simply brilliant, with Salvation and the newly renamed Skeletal Family appearing.


Salvation have played a few gigs since their reappearance at the Mission XXV gig in Leeds last year. They have always pulled in a crowd of devout maniacs who just throw themselves into the gigs. I am really lucky to have seen all of the gigs they have played and can see why the group gets a bit bigger each time. Despite the technical difficulties with bass amplification the set is a cracker and significantly sharper then the Mish support slot a year before. Unfortunately, the lighting was tough and had me feeling really nervous about the upcoming headliners.


The Skeletal Family eased my fears a little as the ripped though a Skeletal Family, Ghost Dance and Anne-Marie Hurst mash-up under the new/old banner. Lighting was great, smoke machine smokey, wind machine windy and was really nice to see them on the bigger stage.


Of course, all the practise and preparation for a gig can go out of the window pretty quickly. Fields of the Nephilim appear in the expected darkness and smoke combination, but without the main subject of Carl McCoy. Of course, venues should make allowances for Shroud, but they don't. One of the three songs gone without a lead singer to snap out.  With one third of the photo opportunity vanished in a puff of smoke my nerves were jangling. McCoy finally appears and it is time to put all that practise into effect.


There are some bands where you need to get a shot of each member of the band, but there is really a 'must have' feel to shots of McCoy.  He is the figurehead of the band and you really need to nail that shot.  This one comes during 'Straight To The Light'.  I usually struggle to remember the song when I am doing pics, but this was a song with some significance for the photographers. The reasons are still a little unclear, either crowd surfers or production decision, but the photo pit was cleared 3/4 through song two! Planning and practise go to hell in a hand-basket when this kind of thing happens. There was effectively less then two minutes to get a shot of the main subject.  Tricky lighting, loads of smoke, security guards, jostling togs and loads of other things conspire against getting the one shot you need. Having a radically shortened window of opportunity did not help. 


It is moments like this that I start interpreting the rules of photography. The three song rule at the O2 Academy usually means you get three songs and then you put the camera away and take no more shots.  These are usually taken from the photo-pit.  In the heat of the moment when the security guys are clearing you out there is little time to ask clarifying questions. So I made a decision to attach the long lens (70-200mm F2.8 L USM IS II) and drifted to the back of the crowd for a song (or two). It is really tough to take a good photo from distance, really, really, tough! I was not convince I had the shot I wanted so had a crack.  


Carl McCoy of Fields of the Nephilim at O2 Academy Leeds

The pic (above) was taken from the side of the venue (by the door between the two bar on the right of the venue). It is a long way away. It doesn't look a lot like this on the camera when I took it. I had a point of reference for Neffs pictures from when I was a kid. This comes from Sounds/Melody Maker/NME pics back in the day where photography and printing techniques combined to create quite a specific grainy/newpaper feel. This is not an easy effect to recreate, but I feel like it was worth the effort to create a pic that felt like something I aspired to when I used to devour live reviews.

I didn't really appreaciate just how good the Neffs were during the Mish support slot. I think this is mainly down to my adverse reaction to the 'Neffs where better then the Mish' attitude. I hope that this doesn't colour my judgement if they should ever play together again, as if that could happen next December!



contact@unholyracket.co.uk (Unholy Racket Music Pics) berlin black catching up fields of the nephilim last july o.children salvation skeletal family zeitgeist zero http://www.unholyracket.co.uk/blog/2012/11/stakes-in-the-ground Sat, 17 Nov 2012 23:38:14 GMT
Being Rosie... http://www.unholyracket.co.uk/blog/2012/10/being-rosie I have spent a load of time trying to help out with a couple of video projects for The March Violets recently. I am pretty new to video and spending as much time working out how to get the best out of the Canon EOS 5D Mk II and Canon EOS 7d as I can. The capability of both cameras looks pretty good when filming from a static position with a fairly fixed subject.  The autofocus system of both cameras is not up to much more though without loads of manual wrangling.


Of course the one thing that a learner video maker should never do is start making videos with folks with wild imaginations. This would  mean never making a March Violets video, so that particular rule book has been chucked well and truly out of the window. Si Denbigh is not short of creative and interesting ideas when it comes to the music he crafts with the rest of the band, or the imagery surrounding it.


I am not going to share anything about the first video, other then to say that I am fairly convinced that it captures something never seen before on either video or still photography.


The second song involved a video and photo shoot at the fabulous Club Lash in Manchester. I could write the longest blog in history about this particular event and the mistakes I made, but the more I try promo work the more I realised how important the experience of the subject/model is. The willing volunteers for the video and photo shoot all asked for direction, and that is a really tricky thing to give to an inexperienced model (no matter how fabulous they looked). It took a while to get into the swing of it and give the right level of direction. Each of the volunteers did brilliantly and I think we came away with some really interesting footage.

The last person to step onto the backdrop was Rosie Garland herself. In her guise of Rosie Lugosi, vampire queen of Club Lash, she had to feature in the shoot. The difference when working with a seasoned performer is noticeable.  The only direction needed here was 'Be Rosie' and fabulous shapes and poses appeared from nowhere....



Huge thanks go out to the amazingly undiscovered talents of the folks of Club Lash. They were gloriously fabulous!

contact@unholyracket.co.uk (Unholy Racket Music Pics) alternative club lash demons fetish manchester march violets rosie garland rosie lugosi http://www.unholyracket.co.uk/blog/2012/10/being-rosie Thu, 18 Oct 2012 21:34:14 GMT
A little acoustic loveliness... http://www.unholyracket.co.uk/blog/2012/10/a-little-acoustic-loveliness Having had a very, very hectic run of three weekends on the trot with either a gig, video or promo shoot going on I was really pleased to have something a little relaxing to look forward to on Sunday. So Newton Faulkner at the O2 Academy in Leeds was just the ticket. I hadn't realised just how tired I was until I almost fell asleep on the couch before heading out. Luckily, having young kids there is little chance of actually cat napping and I was woken up just in time by my eldest (Little Racket) jumping on me and nearly fracturing a rib or two.


I headed off into the cold, wet and dark Leeds evening. It is always a bit hit and miss turning up to take pics at larger venues. They tend to have strict professional camera policies, and the reliability of actually being assigned photo passes is a little random. On this occasion everything went smoothly, which was a bit lucky as the first support was just taking to the stage as I entered the building. I usually like to have done a little research on who is who before a gig, but I have been so busy that I literally hadn't had time. I even managed to miss the artists name when they said it as I was chatting to the security chaps about rules, so still none the wiser. I even forgot my old writing/photographer trick of taking a photo of the running order and setlist from the friendly pit supervisor, schoolboy error!  Of course, this is now bugging me as I enjoyed the young singer/songwriter's set.  


Corima Francis supporting Newton Faulkner at O2 Academy Leeds


A photographic nightmare though as our un-named minstrel sported a huge shock of curly hair. The modern day revisiting of the afro presents quite a challenge as the hair tends to disappear into the backdrop if there is limited light in the venue, and it also casts shadows over the performer's eyes (in this case the fro was big enough to cast a shadow over the entire face).  So it was a case of waiting for the odd moment when the singers head was tilted back letting some light under the canopy.

The second support came from a band called Colour The Atlas. A stripped down four piece with a dual vocal set-up. Most of the songs were sung by Jess Hall, with the odd song being led by Alex Stone. It's quite a challenge to get deeper then 'Oh I quite like this' when you are their taking pictures as you tend to have a head full of ISO's, shutter speeds and apertures. So bands broadly fall into the 'Ouch, where's the exit?', 'When is the main act on?', 'Hmmm, would like to hear more of that' or 'Christ on a bike that is good, I need to stalk the lead singer!' categories.  These fell into the 'Hmmm, would like to hear more of that' category.  I am a big fan of acoustic music, well when I am in the right mood, but I tend to have to listen a few times before it really sticks.  I do recall nice vocals and well crafted tunes though.

From a photography perspective there was some encouragement to be had with some nice lighting.  A lot of it was coming from the back, but there was enough spot to make it relatively easy to get some lovely colour wash backgrounds by lining up the singer's head with the backlit source (see pic of Jess below).  For straight colour washes this tends to give a nice pronounced outline to the person you are taking a pic of and is one of the wee tricks I always aim for.  Of course, this can be even more dramatic with the big swirly lights (Gozos I think they are called)

I had never seen Newton Faulkner before and really didn't know what to expect.  My first impression was just how popular he appeared and enthusiastic the crowd were.  A real mixed crowd too, with folks from all age groups and music creeds too.  I usually find it quite easy to pidgeon hole the O2 crowds (I know I shouldn't, but it is always useful to describe who was at a gig to fill upon a couple of sentences), but this was not easy.


Mr Faulkner had a nice clean stage set-up with 4 or 5 very nice acoustic guitars lined up behind him with a globe (I did debate whether this was one of the ones that opens up to reveal a collection of spirits with one of the other togs).  The whole set-up was placed on a riser, which always makes me nervous as the stage is high enough as it is at the O2 in Leeds. It can make it difficult to get anything other then up-nostril shots. Fortunately the whole thing was placed back a bit so wasn't too much of an issue.  The lighting during the first three songs was really quite nice.  I didn't get to see who was on the desk, but should have gone and shook their hand.  All too often the show is very dimly lit for the opening songs with the interesting effects being held back for later on. There were plenty of interesting effects to play with while we were allowed in the pit though.  


Newton Faulkner plays the O2 Academy in Leeds


I am not really intending writing reviews in these little blogs and rarely criticize folks anyway (my mum always said, 'It your haven't got anything nice to say then.....')  Anyway, it would have been fun to actually write a review of the show as Newton Faulkner is clearly a very accomplished songwriter and prodigiously talented guitarist. He was also very engaging and witty in-between songs and it is really easy to see why the crowd were so well disposed to him. Well worth seeing if you get the chance and like acoustic music, probably one to miss if you only like Bolt Thrower!

LATE BREAKING NEWS: The un-named first support was called Corima Francis (thanks to Milly Shelbourn for that!)




contact@unholyracket.co.uk (Unholy Racket Music Pics) acoustic colour the atlas newton faulkner o2 academy leeds http://www.unholyracket.co.uk/blog/2012/10/a-little-acoustic-loveliness Mon, 15 Oct 2012 15:30:06 GMT
Nowt but a nipper.... http://www.unholyracket.co.uk/blog/2012/10/nowt-but-a-nipper Occasionally I go along to a gig where I am not the oldest person in the room. It's not often, but it does happen. Usually I leave a gig thinking how it would be nice to be young again, have all that energy and dance around like a mad thing. Of course if I was that young and spent all my time dancing I wouldn't get to do the whole gig photography thing.

Tonight's F-Club reunion was the total opposite. This was a gig for the generation a little before mine. In fact a fair percentage of the folks who went to the F-Club were music fans and formed bands that I became a huge fan of. I would love to say that I knew everything about that scene and was there, but I wasn't.  I only went tonight because Wolfie (nicest bloke in rock and roll) of Red Lorry Yellow Lorry was playing in The Expelaires and had asked me to go along and take some pics.


This was a gig and a crowd born out of the tail end of punk. I was just starting secondary school when this lot were out clubbing and gigging. The line-up tonight was made up of Knife Edge, The Expelaires and Penetration. The crowd was made up of an even greater number of the Yorkshire post-punk music crowd with Red Lorry Yellow Lorry (past and present), Skeletal Family, The Mission and many more represented. This was a real reunion, and one that represented the roots of arguably Leeds' most creative and influential period. I am a bit lucky that I get to chat to a few folks who were around through that period and can fill me in on the missing details. In fact, tonight, I am doubly lucky. The walking musical encyclopedia that is Neil Hunt (boss of Zig Zag Lighting) is here. Not only can he help me out with interesting facts and tales, but he is also lighting the gig which is means I have a fighting chance of getting some nicely lit shots (The Brudenell can be a little hit and miss with lighting) 


Knife Edge rattle through a flat out punk set. It is a tasty enough starter and paved the way nicely for what was to follow.

The Expelaires rip through a more post-punk offering. Heavy guitars, literally in the case of the hand crafted steel guitar on stage right create a more industrial punk sound. I was doubling up with both video and stills tonight and doing my best to keep both going. The Expelaires deliver a fine set that goes down well with the home crowd.  It is probably the most musically interesting set of the night as it sat neatly in that spot between punk and what was to follow.


Wolfie of The Expelaires


I chatted with loads of folks in the build up to the Penetration set.  All the conversations had one thing in common. That was resounding praise for Pauline Murray and co. There was to be no disappointment. Penetration delivered a straight punk set that didn't have any of the nods in the direction of popularity for which many bands strive. 


Pauline Murray of Penetration @ The Brudenell Social Club

The bands were great entertainment and the crowd gave each a warm reception. I suspect that a good many folks came along the relive their youth and catch up with old friends as much as see the music.  For me, it was an interesting glimpse into a music scene that shaped the one I loved so much back in my day, now where is the schedule for them Blood Brothers gigs?

contact@unholyracket.co.uk (Unholy Racket Music Pics) http://www.unholyracket.co.uk/blog/2012/10/nowt-but-a-nipper Sat, 13 Oct 2012 08:38:23 GMT
The light of day.. http://www.unholyracket.co.uk/blog/2012/10/the-light-of-day I was just thinking today about how little of my stuff ever sees the light of day...  Since my last blog I have hardly done anything other then take photos and video or edit pictures for people.  As I was ploughing through it all, it did occur to me that lots of the stuff will never ever used for anything.  Having said that, it has been a huge opportunity to try new things and learn from mistakes.  So I thought that this wee blog could be spent going over what I learned.


I decided to pop along to The Fenton on Friday night.  I wanted to see Quasimodo's debut and the Marching Men giving The Sisters back catalogue an outing.  There wasn't much to learn at the gig, just a few reminders. Gigs in back/upstairs rooms of pubs are rarely lit well, but this was as dark as any place I can remember. The lead singer's spot in the centre of the stage was the very darkest spot of all.  I should really just go along and watch these gigs, rather then trying to take any pics.  The lesson from Friday was that a 5D Mk II, as good as it is, cannot deal with pitch black.  I thought it might be a good opportunity to turn the ISO dial to maximum (6400) and see if it could cope.  The simple answer is no.  The image breaks up so badly that it really isn't worth it.  The only point in Quasimodo's set that saw Joel, the lead singer, get enough light to take a pic was when the dry ice/smoke machine got turned on.  The light, which was a footlight, seemed to bounce around in the cloud and create a sort of ball of light that actually managed last long enough to get a very noisy snap.  The Marching Men disappeared entirely at the hands of the smoke machine, and the resultant fog closed Leeds Bradford Airport for several hours.  So, pretty much all of the pics I took will never see the light of day, purely because they don't look good enough to put out there.  Still, I enjoyed the gig.  Quasimodo put in a good shift for their debut gig with a barrage of white falconesque guitar shenanigans.  The Marching Men also delivered the most polished performance I have seen them deliver. 


Saturday and Sunday were a bit of a blur.  Shooting video snippets for The March Violets against a green screen background involving props, people, creatures, multiple cameras and loads of waiting around.  There are many hours of footage to be looked at, the vast majority of which will simply get discarded.  The whole of last week was spent setting this up and dealing with the variety of problems that cropped up.  There were a couple of times when I thought that we would have to call it off, but we managed to get there in the end.  The lesson from the weekend for me was that people really can make seemingly impossible things happen, and there is an awful lot of goodwill in the world.  Mark Hubbard at Old Chapel Studios was a life saver, Anne Stokes at the Tower of Art was a delight and purveyor of fine props, Oliver pitched in with some cool camera work and the Cornwall massive (Amanda, Warren and Zena) went above and beyond the call of duty to help out.  I think the DIY ethic in music is alive and well as long as folks rally around like that.  The details of the video are under wraps for the moment, but there were enough challenges to have put paid to most projects, but folk really did make it happen against all odds.


I had arranged a photo shoot for a feature in Counterfeit Magazine for Sunday too.  It was a bit too much to tackle on top of the hectic videoing schedule.  Anyway, I begged some more time at Old Chapel (thanks again Mark) and thought that reusing the green screen set-up would work.  Castrovalva are an interesting proposition.  A three piece indie noise rock outfit from Leeds, they were lovely.  I liked one of the tracks they had put up on Myspace. It struck me as sounding like a very noisy Frank Zappa (I stuck the link below)


So we did some fairly standard band shots, which I intended popping interesting backdrops on.  Their lead singer mentioned the song, so we decided to try and create a golden widow shot.  Of course the shot below only has six legs, but if it is good enough for Spiderman, it's good enough for me.  I have spent a small age recovering from a green screen disaster since. Ant was wearing a baseball cap that had a green lining under the brim.  This pretty much knackered my usual method of photoshopping the background out and lead to several hours messing around with Background Eraser and a little bit of pixel level erasing on a hairdo!  


I was also asked to do another photo shoot for Section II, who were practicing at Old Chapel.  I was really out of time and couldn't give it the appropriate level of attention.  So I will pick up with them and do something a little more thoughtful later.  I guess my learning from this one is not to squeeze things in without any planning.


So I now have a huge pile of editing to do, on top of a huge pile of existing editing..... I only actually edit a fraction of the stuff that I actually take, and only a fraction of that will see the light of day.....


contact@unholyracket.co.uk (Unholy Racket Music Pics) castrovalva march violets marching men quasimodo http://www.unholyracket.co.uk/blog/2012/10/the-light-of-day Tue, 09 Oct 2012 21:15:19 GMT
These things are sent to try us.... http://www.unholyracket.co.uk/blog/2012/10/these-things-are-sent-to-try-us A combination of a broken PC and an insanely busy week have limited my blogging, so here is a brief synopsis.

The week started pretty well apart the demise of my laptop. This didn't used to phase me that much as it just meant watching telly or going to the pub. This was a bad week for the power to go kaput though.  Having just launched a website and a blog I really wanted to keep momentum by loading content each day.  Difficult to do without the PC though. It really did make me realise how reliant people who trade or use the internet are on their equipment. Anyway, the repair shop have fixed it and life goes on.


The things that were delayed by this unfortunate event were a load of pics from the Eureka Machines video session last Sunday. As I mentioned in my last blog, it was fascinating watching Ash TV work on the shooting of a video. Particularly useful as I am spending some of this weekend shooting snippets for a music video for The March Violets. What I didn't appreciate was quite the level of problem solving that might be involved. I won't go into too much detail as I hope the video will see the light of day and be something a bit different. It has not been without it's problems with two location changes, a huge learning curve on the procurement of props and a few lessons in just how supportive folks in the Leeds music world can be when you are in a spot.  Anyway, it is all looking pretty good now and the weekend will hopefully see some amazing footage getting captured for use in two of the songs from the new album.


Today is also one of my favourite events in the Leeds calendar.  Light Night Leeds is great for photographers as the whole city centre gets lit up with strange and interesting displays.  Hope the weather stays fine and it should be fun to go out with the camera.  It almost makes the darkening nights worth it.


Of course you can only have so much light stuff going on in a city at once and there is always a need to balance it with a bit of darkness.  So, it will be straight from Light Night to The Fenton where Quasimodo make their debut performance and The Marching Men recreate the classic Sister's secret gig in the upstairs room of a pub.


Tim Synystr of The Marching Men delivers a 90s Eldritch pose

Nice bit of light entertainment before two days of filming with The March Violets and a photo shoot with Castrovalva....  Hope everyone has a fabulous weekend!

contact@unholyracket.co.uk (Unholy Racket Music Pics) castrovalva fenton light night leeds march violets quasimodo the marching men http://www.unholyracket.co.uk/blog/2012/10/these-things-are-sent-to-try-us Fri, 05 Oct 2012 09:15:58 GMT
Every Day Is A School Day http://www.unholyracket.co.uk/blog/2012/10/every-day-is-a-school-day Well, that was a properly busy weekend. I'd been a bit nervous about doing a talk to a photography group about music pics for a few weeks.  Anyway, I did it and it seemed to go alright.  I quite liked doing it after all, even though I blew my script out of the water.  I am not sure I convinced anyone that having a go at taking pics at The Library or The Cockpit was actually a good idea.  I used a load of images from the last two years and the process of putting it together was quite encouraging. The pics I took at the beginning of 2011 look like a different photographer to the ones from summer 2012 (In my opinion at least). I thought back to the Olympics and the lessons about just improving of your personal bests. Eventually, keep doing that and you never know how good you could be.


The day wrapped up with a trip to the West Yorkshire Playhouse costume department, which was a blast. I really don't know why folks go to fancy dress shops in Leeds rather then there. It has the very best Elvis outfit ever!  I will hopefully pop up a few pics from there on my Facebook place.


Today was entirely different. The fabulous Eureka Machines were working on a video for a new song and had asked me to pop down and take some pics. Ash TV were making the video and it was really interesting to see them work. I love their stuff.  


Eureka Machines


Eureka Machines have been a bit of a fixture of the last couple of years for me. I love the energy and sheer showmanship that they bring to any performance. I won't say much about the video, other then it was a fab afternoon meeting some lovely folk supporting a band that deserve to reap the rewards of their efforts...

This week has loads of planning for a video project next weekend and the beginning of a string of gigs that last til Christmas.  Main priority is to get my PC working again as the power exploded and I currently can't edit pics!  Nightmare!!!






contact@unholyracket.co.uk (Unholy Racket Music Pics) http://www.unholyracket.co.uk/blog/2012/10/every-day-is-a-school-day Mon, 01 Oct 2012 15:03:46 GMT
Go Gadget Go... http://www.unholyracket.co.uk/blog/2012/9/go-gadget-go Today is all about gadgets. One gadget in particular. I am growing to love my radio flash triggers. I bought a set of Pixel King radio triggers a little while back and have been playing with them in conjunction with my Speedlite flashes. I usually make the blanket statement that I don't like flash at gigs, but am re-evaluating this a little. There are certain times when you really need to freeze the action to get a picture and in the light available in most of the places I shoot (I carefully avoided the use of the words 'dingey hell-holes' so as not to offend) there just isn't enough. 


So if there is something really interesting, but very action oriented going on (head banging, stage diving, leaping in the air legs akimbo, people hanging from things attached to the ceiling) it is really hard to avoid flash. I have stuck up an action pic from an Acacia Strain pic below to illustrate the point.


Acacia Strain at the supposed last night of The Well, Leeds

The subject of the picture is really the rather beautifully executed stage dive, not the Acacia Strain giving it some on stage. Unfortunately, there was very little light targeted on the ceiling where the stage diver just happened to be at the time, so flash was really the only way.  The actual pic on the camera was perfectly exposed according to all the fancy histograms etc, but I just never like them like that.  So I turned it black and white, underexposed it a bit, grained it a bit and generally stamped up and down on it with my feet to make it look dirty.  

So, back to the gadget that started me thinking about this.  One of the Pixel Kings had a wonky hotshoe attachment that I somehow managed to bust at 'Live At Leeds'.  I was playing with the idea of my mate Gaz holding the flash up in the crowd some way away from me and triggering the flash remotely by a transmitter on the hotshoe.  Of course, this would mean that I wasn't technically breaking the 'no flash' rule and Gaz would actually get thrown out.  Anyway, for gig where I didn't have a decoy mate I was going to use a small stand and just position the flash well away from me. Why bother? I hear you ask.  Well I think the thing I don't like about flash is the 'in your face' blown out look that it gives, along with revealing all the ugly clutter on stage.  By positioning it from an entirely different angle to the camera you could avoid some of the things I dislike.  Anyway, to do this I needed the Pixel King fixing, so popped down to the Flash Centre. This is where the big difference comes from using a pro dealer vs high street stores comes in.  They swapped the receiver without a moments hesitation. I was well chuffed as I expected to not be able to do anything with it for ages.


So now I can play about with the triggers to my hearts content. Starting with making my homemade lightbox out of a cardboard box, white paper and some perspex.....  Don't ask!


Late Breaking News:


My Lightbox experiment worked a treat and I now need to take lots of photos of things that have been sliced... like lemons, limes, eyeballs, that kind of stuff


contact@unholyracket.co.uk (Unholy Racket Music Pics) acacia strain flash flash centre flash triggers off camera pixel king stage diving http://www.unholyracket.co.uk/blog/2012/9/go-gadget-go Thu, 27 Sep 2012 12:58:47 GMT
It's not all gigs you know... It's windscreens, gaffa tape, printers, football and competitions! http://www.unholyracket.co.uk/blog/2012/9/its-not-all-gigs-you-know-it-s-windscreens-gaffa-tape-printers-and-football I almost certainly will not manage a blog every day, but while my enthusiasm lasts I thought I would fill in the gaps between gigs with a bit of behind the scenes stuff.  Today is one of those days.... 


The big job was trying to get a windscreen repaired. The reason I have put this into a music photography blog is that there is a valuable lesson to be learned. The recent Blood Brothers gig in Nottingham was a particularly busy day for me. I had been taking photos for the Mission website of their tour and had found out that Wayne Hussey and the crew were fans of this new band.  So I arranged to set-up my studio at the venue and do some promo work with them. The Bodega Social in Nottingham was converted into a white/silver room for the afternoon with 4 studio strobes, backdrop support and a Colorama (smoke grey I think).  This all sounded easy except for the small parking problem (i.e. there was none).  So it meant my passengers (Chris Sherrington and Si Denbigh) and me ferrying gear back and forth a lot. Unfortunately, when returning the 3m paper roll back into the car I managed to smash my rear view mirror, and subsequently cracked the windscreen of the car.  Luckily my musically minded passengers fashioned a repair using gaffa tape borrowed from the crew (no crew is ever without). Anyway, it needed repairing so today it was done. Due to the horrendous weather, I ended up going to Autoglass, which was very handily located.


It is nice on occasion to actually see a picture printed out. So I take the occasional one that I like and have it printed.  Given that the windscreen repair shop was right next to The Flash Centre (Leeds' Canon Professional Centre) and CC Imaging (My favourite local printers) I thought I would do that very thing. 


The vast majority of my pics live their life as electronic media.  Either on webzines, music reviews, Flickr, Twitters or Facebooks.  Last night's are no exception.  They have already appeared on the O2 Academy Leeds facebook page (link below).  


There is something really different about printed pictures though. There is an art to it and a good printer will really help, particularly as I always set my pics up to look good on screens.  The CC Imaging guys don't just print what I give them, they tend to look at it and tweak it to look better. That is precisely what they did today with this pic of Miles Hunt.



I had already played around with it a bit and removed some clutter, but they tweaked the contrast slightly too.  Anyway the end result is that they presented me with two versions of the pic rather then just the one I wanted. As they let me have both I am going to give one away!  If you would like to have a roughly A2 copy of this above pic then just sign-up to the guest book on my website.  I will pick one name from the guest book at random on 7th October and send them one of the prints.


So the rest of the day will see me with my head in the website trying to make it work, looking after the kids and playing a bit of football later on!

contact@unholyracket.co.uk (Unholy Racket Music Pics) acoustic bingley bingley festival hunt miles miles and erica miles hunt http://www.unholyracket.co.uk/blog/2012/9/its-not-all-gigs-you-know-it-s-windscreens-gaffa-tape-printers-and-football Wed, 26 Sep 2012 14:28:36 GMT
A day that started with rain and ended with an ocean.... http://www.unholyracket.co.uk/blog/2012/9/here-comes-the-rain This is my first of my regular blogs on www.unholyracket.co.uk.  I was busy thinking what I would talk about in these blogs.  Obviously, I should introduce the site etc, but it really is simple.  Unholy Racket Music Pics is about music pics by Unholy Racket, so not much to discuss there.  There is perhaps more of a story to be told about why I have finally got around to putting the site together.  I have been meaning to do it for ages, but it has been one of those things I have been putting off right through the summer.....  Well what has passed for summer this year.

So it was the rain that did it.  Enough rain to keep me from leaving the house with the camera.  Enough rain to keep me from going for a walk with my daughter.  Enough rain to keep me tied to a computer long enough to get the job done.  

The rain has played a significant part in my day.  I got a call around teatime asking whether I could make it down to the O2 Academy Leeds to take photos of Richard Hawley. Ed, the regular house photographer was the wrong side of a huge traffic jam caused by a river swollen by the perpetual rain.  So I packed my gear and headed for the O2.

The support for the night was Lisa Hannigan from Ireland. She played a captivating set of folk music to an ever growing audience. Not too busy in the photo pit and hardly needed ear plugs as it was an acoustic set.  It was well received, but there was no doubt who the main event was tonight.

Richard Hawley was simply breath taking. A man with a huge catalog of top class songs to choose from. Perhaps as impressive as the music was the stage presence, with entertaining tales and quips between songs. From a photography point of view the light was not too shabby for the first three songs.  The stage was surrounded by a small orchard, the tress accompanying the band on tour. The security chap informed me that they had been left outside for an hour to save watering them. 

A curious thing happened after the third song. I was collared on my way out of the pit and asked to take some more pics from the balcony for Richard's manager. Not entirely sure what passes would be need I had several pressed into my hand and sent on my way.  This was almost the exact opposite of the last O2 Academy gig I did in Sheffield when The Cult sent someone to find me to take my passes away half way through The Mission's set. I guess things are balancing themselves out over the gigs....

The only downside of Hawley's set was the dreaded lectern!  If ever a device was sent to haunt music photographers, this was it! They are an absolute nightmare especially when the vocalist also plays guitar.  I really hate losing bits of instruments in shots, and the lectern almost guarantees the head of the guitar will vanish.

Anyway, it was fitting that a day that had seen solid rain have such an impact on my plans, it was fitting that Hawley finished with a song called 'Ocean'.  Beautiful stuff.  The crowd poured out of the venue to get the last boat home....

contact@unholyracket.co.uk (Unholy Racket Music Pics) O2 Academy Leeds lisa hannigan rain richard hawley http://www.unholyracket.co.uk/blog/2012/9/here-comes-the-rain Wed, 26 Sep 2012 00:37:28 GMT