Archive for December, 2019

The next gig on my calendar was a band which I had no knowledge about yet they completely blew me away.

Mostly Autumn are a relatively local band, hailing from the York area and have a somewhat large following. This is testament to their quality as they remain, by choice unsigned and do everything themselves. If you want to see a band that genuinely do it on their own, have a huge following and several albums out then Mostly Autumn are one of those rare bands out there.

The band is several strong and full of multi instrumentalists. The sound is simply sublime and rather than me trying to describe them just pop and listen to them on the likes of Youtube etc.

The Welly stage isn’t the biggest so things were a little cramped for the band yet they nailed the whole night. With no support band, they simply played two large sets, with a short interval between and completely filled the evening with the most wonderful music. This was super prog with angelic voices to boot.

Again my review and all images can be found on the DTFM website – Here

Here are a few images from the night though –

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Next up with this months work was covering the band Riverside for pictures and a write up.

Again, this was for Down The Front Media with the gig being held at the Manchester Academy 2. This venue is around an hour away from home and so nice and easy once you get parked. I say this as it’s on the widely expanded University grounds and so parking anywhere near the building is totally pot luck. The council don’t make things easy for anyone reference parking. It appears to be the blanket, get public transport to the venue, which is of no help to people like me in my situation. Well luck was on my side and as I drove into the University area a vehicle moved off and I plonked my van in the now free space.

The staff were fine with directions and assistance getting my pass and I was soon in the main hall ready to shoot.

Support band Mechanism were on first and excellent. Part of the DTFM policy is that we also cover all support bands were possible. It’s sometimes a close thing with traffic, parking and getting in etc but they are part of the evenings entertainment and should be suitably mentioned in reviews and pictures. It’s also worthwhile that every now and again the support band end up being better than the main act of the evening.

Finally the mighty Polish Prog Band Riverside begin their set and it is truly a light and sound show of considerable proportions. Sadly it is also a smoke fest and so with just three songs to shoot them things are rather difficult. Add to this I’m supposed to be reviewing the set, things take a turn for the worst when the over zealous security people escort us from the room after the third song. They are expecting us to descend all the way down to the foyer, grab another pass, lose our equipment and bags and then come back up two floors to review. I ask what are we supposed to do with our bags and they explain there are lockers in the foyer. Well thats not happening and so the review is completed from what I saw in the first 3 songs.

Catch this fabulous prog band here – Riverside Band

Some of the Riverside Images –

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On the day and indeed the time of my father in laws death I was at work in Manchester covering a small club event at Salford Trampoline Club.

Whilst we knew Michael was gravely ill it was suggested that my son and I still covered this event, rather than letting the club down. There was no guarantee that this would be the day of Mike’s death and he had been hanging on for well over a week at this point. My son and I duly left and covered the event, receiving the news of Mike’s passing, from my wife around lunchtime.

My son and I had a little wobble and the club were great about it all. They were aware of what was going on and the fact we still turned up so when they saw us together, whilst I was on the phone to Lisa, things were stopped for a few minutes. This was a lovely gesture and fully appreciated, as were the teas & coffee’s supplied all day.

The event, for this club, was a first and ended up being a fabulous success for them and indeed us. On a business stance it proved, once more, that the grass roots eventing produced more than so called higher prestige events.

With the presentations over we were both quickly on our way home. Some days just don’t make sense and this is one of those days.

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For the last year my Father in Law had been ill with vascular dementia and other ailments, including the likes of a leaking heart valve.

On the 4th November 2018 he sadly succumbed to this devastating illness and passed away surrounded by his two daughters and one son. Ironically it was his birthday and thus has the dates 04/11/1945 – 04/11//2018 on his memorial stone. We are pretty sure he held on just to hear the birthday cards being read out, before finally going to sleep for that last time.

I first met Mike some 26 years ago when I had first started dating his daughter Lisa, who has in turn became my wife and rock. We met at a family BBQ, held by his wife at the time and just hit it off from there. A few quiet words about my intentions towards Lisa, whilst sharing a few tinnies in the garage, a warning about his wife and how volatile she could be and the family was let loose upon me.

He was soon divorced and lived the rest of his life on his own. An old sea dog, he had his routines, lived the lifestyle he wanted and wasn’t too fussed if you cared or not. He was happy in his quiet world and that suited him just fine. Disrupt him and you would feel his wrath, though he soon settled again where a cup of tea and biscuit became involved.

We saw him, as a family, when we could over the years and had some fun times. Trips to see his sister Josie in Liverpool were always fun and he would always end up asleep in the car on the way home. He never ate much so seeing him attempt the annual xmas dinner serving at ours was funny, as was taking him out for a carvery or meal where he would almost appear to be about to burst when he’d finished.

There were negatives to Mike, though to mention those would be disrespectful to a man of high principles and a distinguished maritime career. He should be remembered for the happy go lucky attitude, complete lack of colour sense when painting, a garage brimming with tools and things being fixed (some over the 26yrs I knew him), his infectious laugh and most of all being a Dad and Grandad to those that mattered most to him.

His final journey …..

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Beyond parts one and two of October 2018 were the final couple of things that topped the month off.

First up was my first job for Down The Front Media, which was to cover a local, quarterly music event called Rockzilla. I had joined DTFM the month before having been recruited by their head of Photography, who I had shot alongside at a few music events previously.

Rockzilla is a hull based music event showcasing up to four bands. The bands are all of the same rock genre for each individual event, so you can have a prog night, a doom night, a thrash night etc etc so hopefully you get it. Held at O’Rileys in Hull, promoted and organised by the very amiable Shane Outhwaite it still amazes me that certain local critics continue to complain that the Hull Music Scene is dead. Dead it is not, people just need to get out and support venues, other than the big two council carbuncles in town.

Tonight we had Weird Wolf, Phoenician, Xiii and Voodoo Blood all ready to showcase their talents to the small yet appreciative crowd.

The night is a roaring success and there have been others since, which I will pop on here as I catch up with life and jobs in 2019.

A full review of both evenings including complete galleries of images can be found via the DTFM site here – Down The Front Media

Second up was to shoot an old hero of mine from the 80’s Ross The Boss. Guitarist in the mighty Manowar rock / metal band, he is now out touring with his new band. The chance to capture him was too good an offer so off to the Corporation in Sheffield I went. Now the C3 room holds around 100 people max, has a small bar to one side and a smaller stage. Lit by just a couple of alternating lights this is no picnic for a gig photographer, indeed its almost as bad as it can get.

Anyway Ross and his band did the business and I managed a few pics that were publishable. It was interesting that another photographer gave up after just one song and trudged away complaining about lack of light. Why venues won’t, or don’t seem to want to, invest in lighting is beyond me.

A pic of each band from Rockzilla –

Voodoo Blood – Voodoo Blood

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Xiii – Xiii

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Phoenician – Phoenician

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WeirdWolf – WeirdWolf

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And one from Ross The Boss –

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Yes October had become another beast of a month. The bookings continued to come with dates into 2020, especially for weddings and events planned well in advance because of location issues.

One of these events is the English TRA/TUM/DMT Championships held at Sheffield EIS every year. We had been asked by British Gymnastics if we would cover this event and the qualifiers if possible. For one of the qualifiers we were already booked and then during the week of the second event we were sadly involved in a collision with an adult deer which Kindly ripped off the front of our van.

Thankfully we arrived at the finals unscathed and set about the weekend. People were glad to see us there owing to, in their words, our high quality competition images and product options. Josh (Our Son) & I covered the main floor whilst Lisa & Chloe (Wife & Daughter) covered the desk and sales as always.

Being the English Championships this was well organised and ran like clockwork, thus making our jobs so much easier with coverage and subsequent image availability.

The weekend was a complete success on both working efficiency and indeed sales angles. This did however add another 9000+ images to the ever burgeoning lost of RAW files to edit and get uploaded into the 31 galleries asap.

Things away from the glamour of shooting are now becoming a blur of staring at screens, whilst editing, and preparing for the next shoot. Busy can be fun, though it can also have its downside which will soon rear its ugly head in the near future.

The montage image below was requested by British Gymnastics to promote the event and page on it’s website. The disciplines on show are trampolining, double mini trampoline and tumbling.

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The van a few months earlier having hit an adult deer at 60mph. The whole front was pushed backwards and you can see the bonnet is now over the windscreen. Had this been a standard car, the Police stated things would have been considerably worse. Not bad sometimes being a white van man.

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October continued as August and September had, with a continuous and full diary for the whole month.

We had 5 equestrian events, of which one was the three day Petplan regional finals for the North of England. Yes three full days of covering two arenas from dawn til dusk and beyond. This is hard work when there are no combined arena breaks and so you have to literally whisk yourself out of the arenas just to perform a simple function like going to the toilet. Miss a test and that could be missed sales.

The PetPlan event was a reasonable success on the sales front, though as always the grass roots competitions do better. Those who purchased tended to be riders who had not qualified for the national finals and wanted a moment of qualifying to this level of competition. I don’t think we sold one picture to any podium finisher as they clearly would want one from the finals. We took almost 3700 images over the three days, which doesn’t sound many in the context of gymnastics finals, though standing still outside for 8hrs at a time causes issues with your legs, back and neck. Sitting and editing for a few days, straight after this event, was no fun whatsoever. Add to this another 2000+ pics from the other equestrian events and we haven’t even started with the other work we had covered this month.

One thing that the Petplan event did bring was a request for a basic video of someones horse. To cut a long story short the owner had been involved in an accident so her horse was up for sale. We spoke about ideas and kept things simple. The date for filming was agreed and everything was easily completed, edited and the link shared 100’s of times around horse sites around the region. Planning was everything with this as horses don’t take kindly to being positioned and refilmed numerous times. Everything turned out well and potential buyers were numerous, thus one very happy customer.

The completed video is viewable here – Noah

And one of the last images taken at the end of the three days. I needed sleep.

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September was another busy month after the rigours of August and all that is threw at me. We had a total of nine equestrian events, including the Rise Hunter Trials, that we did for the first time.

Covering a cross country time trial is no easy feat and it all comes down to the location you shoot from. We decided upon two locations. The first was a cluster of fences which were part of a time trial and gave me a minimum of 5 fences to capture the horse and riders at. Knowing there would be refusals along the way meant that I would at least, hopefully, capture one good shot for the rider to see at the finish.

Our second vantage and shooting point was the last fence and the chase to the line. Easily covered with a 200mm zoom the exhaustion on faces coming over that last fence to the elation of crossing the line only yards later proved to be a popular choice of images montaged in with the jumping images.

The weather held out and the day was a success for all involved. We were promptly invited to come back in 2019, which we gracefully accepted.

Other things in September were a couple of studio portraits, a mad competition day of 4 piece action at Bridlington Gymnastics and of course the other 8 days standing outside at Manor Grange. Throw in a wedding weekend, with a commercial leotard shoot during one week, and the month had finished before my brain had chance to catch up, let alone have all of the editing done.

The editing was indeed now becoming an issue. We had shot some 15,000 images this month and I was barely able to keep up. I would spend day after day stuck editing, to leave the house for another job, return and continue editing. This was not just the one big job and a week or so to edit, but a number of jobs spread out. Priorities for completion clearly go to the likes of the wedding, though some people just wont accept this and you can get the odd snotty email or telephone call when someone is expecting their pics to be in a gallery just hours after competing.

Being polite in replies and conversation can be oh so very hard.

So, one image from the Hunter Trials…

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And one of Cave Castle where we shot the wedding.

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Firstly a polite notice – All images are subject to copyright and no permissions are given, in any capacity for any media, for usage beyond this blog. Please contact Cecil Paul Studio’s for commercial usage rights and pricing structures.

My final band of the day was to be the Graham Bonnet Band. Whilst there was still The Quireboys, plus headliners, Skid Row to come I had seen both of those bands recently and photographed them both too. Add to this the thought of the early rise in the morning for a whole day of gymnastics photography and that extra time in bed won over shooting those two final acts.

I did hear that both were superb and indeed some of the images I saw, portrayed excellent sets by both. 25 years ago I could burn the candle at both ends on a regular basis. These days common sense steps in when it comes to driving long distances at either end of a days work.

Anyway Graham Bonnet and his band put on a spectacular show and graced us with some classic hits mixed with some more modern opuses he has been involved in. No issues with the voice and time seems to have been kind.

So as he finished his set I was away to the van and on my way home for a cuppa, quick shower and bed. 6am the next morning felt like I had barely got to bed and my alarm had gone off. Later that day I was glad I’d made the decision to leave early as the old tired eyes set in.

All in all a fab weekend at a festival I would wholly recommend. Organised by rockers, run by volunteer rock lovers and a fabulous atmosphere too. Long may it continue.

Find what he’s up to here – Graham Bonnet Band

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Firstly a polite notice – All images are subject to copyright and no permissions are given, in any capacity for any media, for usage beyond this blog. Please contact Cecil Paul Studio’s for commercial usage rights and pricing structures.

Next up were a band that I had yet to see. I had seen their lead singer, Blaze, in his Iron Maiden stint, though had never managed to catch Wolfsbane on tour over the many years they had been regularly active.

The set was monstrous and the band were just on it from the word go. Blaze is the consummate frontman and really doesn’t care who he upsets whilst on stage. Meet him off stage and you chat with a most humble and kind chap who even gives you two minutes whilst he’s tying up his stage boots.

It’s been great to hear that they are continuing as a band and have some live dates pencilled in. Blaze of course also has a solid solo career too which has spawned some quality material over the last few years.

If they play near you I’d certainly recommend them.

See what they are up to here – Wolfsbane

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