Seduced by Light Just another Seduced by Light Sites site Thu, 22 Feb 2018 04:24:59 +0000 en-GB hourly 1 Life in a Dark Cupboard Fri, 24 May 2013 17:29:07 +0000 We Live Alone in a Dark Cupboard…

In the beginning.

This is a story of photography meets metal and glass and  at the risk of sounding  ungrateful, while I love photography and have done so for many years, more than I care to recall, I don’t really have a competitive nature, the competitions are fun and the trophy’s  are sometimes  a pleasant side effect.

However aside from the material belongings required to make the pictures the trophy’s often mean far less to the extent that after they are handed out and the quick 30 second self indulgent ego trip, they are condemned to a year in the dark until I figure that I should make a record of them before I give them back, as the achievement does mean something because I created something visually interesting that was thought provoking enough to get someones attention, maybe because this is a memory of what once was rather than a possession.

The flowing images, including the one heading this post, span two seasons of competition and are as follows, and of course done in the dark with glowie things and indeed something that was fun to do, which is what it is all about for me..

All the images in this post are shot in the dark with long exposures from 15-30 seconds, actually for me that is quite a short exposure, but that is another story.

Monolith: 2010/2011 Advanced Image League/Advanced Slide (Above)

Monolith Reflections

I have this rather cool black glass coffee table which gives a nice reflection, that I was given because it was being thrown out because it has a broken foot, but that does not matter to me.
This is a solid glass block with an embossed inscription, shot in total darkness and backlit with a red LED glow stick and a LED work light to provide the wavy lines.

Firefly: 2011/2012 Advanced Slide


This one is a silver plate, the same one that is in the post header image with the lighting a little evolved, well it is another year and therefore twelve months more playtime between the two, again shot in total darkness and the same broken footed table, side lit with a halogen torch to bring out the detail in the engraving, with the addition of a set of cheap multi colour LED fairy lights to add a bit more Me-ness to the image.

Chayotica: 2011/2012 Advanced Annual Print.


It is always interesting when something is being judged by a single person and therefore a single opinion on what is being seen so you never really know how that will work out, anyone familiar with this kind of judging will know that you can score high or low with the same image depending on who is providing the score, a  kind of chaos, so I wanted to project that in the image.
This is a really beautifully crafted blown glass trophy, a work of art in its own right, but rather delicate to the point of being scary, I wouldn’t want to have it anywhere it may get broken as it has apparently stood the test of time as the prize for the annual print award since the 1970’s, who would want that on their conscience.

So anyway, glass reflects everything in a big way and often not in a good way, yes there are tried and tested methods to deal with this, black flags and soft indirect light, but lots of people do that and it doesn’t really feed my addiction to different light very well, direct light is pretty much out of the equation, so this one again is in total darkness with a halogen torch covered with a white pillow case to soften the glare and pointed away from the glass, so the light is just spilling into the trophy and to add some oddity a set of multi colour LED fairy lights waved, wiggled and giggled (technical terminology) in the background.

2012/2013 and beyond..

All this has made me think that maybe I should not do competitions as it seems a shame to hide these trophy’s away, but the competitions are fun and I enjoy the banter they can sometimes bring, they are just club/local level so nothing too grand or ground breaking in the bigger picture, so I have decided to make myself a promise that any future trophy’s that maybe unlucky enough to end up in my hands, I will try by best to at least have them out on display even if no one ever sees them, at least they wont be all sad and lonely stuck in a dark cupboard.

Congratulations if you have got this far, as always this was supposed to be a short post and as often is the case, it has turned into a bit of an animal, well there are probably some more interesting less self indulgent posts coming up, so if you have survived, please check back one day!

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The Dirty Harry Trilogy – Blondie Tribute Fri, 04 Jan 2013 02:15:58 +0000

Dirty Harry Edinburgh – Blondie Tribute Band…

dirty_harry_22_12_12_006Some time back in October, in-between running around in the dark with torches, glowie things and sparks I had a by chance meeting with Sarah Kennedy, who just happens to stand out from the crowd, so being the inquisitive, erm (nosey), person that I am, I asked a few questions which lead to finding out that Sarah fronts a Blondie Tribute Band, Dirty Harry, there are plenty of web articles about them, so I’ll leave that for you to seek.

I expressed an interest in going along to a gig and doing some photography as it is something I have not done before and wanted to, well have a go, so I contacted their Manager Eileen to see if it would be possible, after a fair amount of e-mail ping pong, and in the meantime talking to Stuart about the possibility of doing some band photography, we had come to an agreement to attend a gig at the Electric Circus in Edinburgh, which ended up as three gigs over the Christmas period.

Difficult and challenging lighting conditions and something I had not really done before, resistance is futile!
Enough waffle, photo time…
Yeah, I know, corny as hell, but some things just have to be repeated 🙂

I know what you’re thinking. ‘Did he take six shots or only five’?

Well to tell you the truth, in all this excitement, I kind of lost track myself. you’ve got to ask yourself one question: ‘Do I feel lucky?’ Well do ya, punk?

The First gig was at The Electric Circus in Edinburgh and I was soon to learn hard lesson No1! We had arrived early in time for the sound check so we could do some test shots, it was darkish but manageable, the stage lighting was LED, but fairly even, it all seemed fairly straight forward, then bang, the band was on the lights dropped off a lot more and became very difficult to manage, well be careful what you wish for as they say, you may just get it! And get it I really did..
Stuart went down the snooted flash route, but I am far to stubborn and took the I will fight it, using a fast prime lens, hard lesson No2, mixed with some pretty hard to manage colours, along with the low light, in the end though I got some shots that I liked and the band seemed happy with, in the end I had learned a good lesson.

Blondie Tribute Gig - Dirty Harry, Edinburgh

The second gig was at Wee Jimmies, Cowdenbeath in Fife, which was promoted by RubberStamp Promotions, a Fife live entertainment company.
Learning from the first gig, we decided to have a remote flash setup, as we use different camera and flash systems, this was easy to do without any chance of wireless interference, the venue was a lot easier to move around, the ambient lighting for the stage area easier to handle, we shot a mixture of subtle remote fill flash and non flash shots, for me this was probably the most productive of the three gigs and did not have any real problem with the lighting, just the usual high ISO shooting associated with low light photography, something I happen to like anyway.

Blondie Tribute Gig - Dirty Harry, Glasagow

The third and final gig of our little live music adventure was at the Renfrew Ferry on the Clyde, we went along early again and the band had invited us to join them for a pre gig meal, which was very gratefully received, well food is always a good thing!
If you have never been there, it is an interesting venue, with what is like a mini concert venue type stage, if you know the Glasgow Barrowlands Ballroom, imagine that in miniature and you may have the idea, unlike the Barrowlands in concert setup, there are tables all around the stage and above with a balcony area, this made moving around the venue a little tricky, but did provide a vantage point of sorts, to shoot from, another lesson I had learned, is that shooting the band as a whole was at best very difficult and I had set myself the task of doing just that, with the old, hold camera over your head, wait for the right moment trick, press button and hope!

So again, it was supposed to be a short blog entry, but I am what I am, a rambler, so it has turned into a bit of an animal, but if you know me, you’re probably not that shocked.

In closing, Dirty Harry are a great Tribute act to go and see and I would recommend that anyone that likes or remembers Blondie to go and see them if you get the chance, they are very authentic sounding and a lot of fun to watch and hear.

More photos from these and other gigs can be viewed in the Dirty Harry is a Band album.

Credits and links

Sarah Kennedy – Vocals
Callum McNair – Guitar
Steve Fraser – Bass
Simon McGlynn – Drums
Matt Bartlett – Keyboards

Dirty Harry Blondie Tribute – Dirty Harry website.

Dirty Harry Edinburgh – The Bands Facebook Page.

Stu (The Luddite) Hyland – Stuarts Website.

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On Location with Chrissie Red Mon, 27 Aug 2012 00:22:51 +0000 Shooting on Location with Chrissie Red

I recently met up with Chrissie when she made a brief visit to my area, we had not seen one another for some time, so it was good just to catch up and get a few photos in the process.

After meeting up with Chrissie at South Queensferry with Rory, who was off to play football, we headed off to a location I had used in the past, Roslin Glenn near Roswell, Mid Lothian, on arrival we found that due to all the rain there had been some landslips and the path was apparently “closed” undeterred we investigated further to find that the fallen trees has a path cut through them.


We  proceeded to the bottom where there is an old ruin and small footbridge, as luck would have it this time, there was some nice light coming through the trees, so we took that opportunity to do some casual test shots along with the usual banter.

What about this One?

After an hour or so, we decided to go and look at another location and Chrissie suggested that we should give Stuart a call and see if he was free for an hour or so to join us, so we met up with him at Bavelaw nature reserve near Balerno, where there are some interesting woodland boardwalks, the usual banter and then some “what about this one”, kind of chats before moving on to actually shooting something.

Walk of Colour

This was one of the shots that we made using the curve of the boardwalk to aid in the compositional aspect of the image. Shot in natural available light, as are all images in this post.

A monochrome  image from the shoot can be seen in the People and portrait gallery shooting through trees to a distant section of the boardwalk.

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Castle Portraits – Location shoot with Gemma Chan Tue, 14 Aug 2012 00:53:44 +0000 Location Fashion Strobist and Natural Light Photography…

A little while ago I attended a  SCN networking evening in Edinburgh with Stu Hyland, and met local model Gemma, and in doing so we arranged to work together on a collaboration and agreed on a location shoot at a castle in the Scottish borders.


Stuart and myself decided on different location within the castle and I decided on using a stone archway for model placement, with a perspective leading backward through more background archways.

This shot was done with natural ambient light provided by an open, or rather missing roof on a heavily overcast day giving soft lighting through out the scene with a little fill flash to camera left to add  a bit of contrast.


This second shot, more of a portrait was shot in another door arch but from a different angle, with the light back lighting the model and a more powerful fill flash to bring out the vivid red of her hair and detail in the eye closest to the camera.

Additional lighting provided by a flashgun and softbox on a VALS AKA Stuart, these stands, while sometimes a little temperamental are a lot more versatile than the old school metal ones that can fall over, although that can happen with a VALS if the ground is wet and slippery, although they are self righting, which is a bonus.


No collaboration is complete without a sniping outtake and direction (shouting at Stu across the courtyard)  to offer advice (or distract him a little) as it never hurts to teach someone to still be able to get the shot amidst distraction.


Other images from this shoot in the People and portrait gallery titled Luminous Solitude and Forgotten Time.

On closing this post, it would be prudent to mention that many of these castles are staffed, though some aren’t, although most of these places are ok with photography within their premises, it is wise to seek permission either before turning up, or at least on arrival as being turned away is not very cool. Also some of these places have events and or re-enactments, so it is a good idea to check that first too.

Links related to this post.

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Location Portrait Lighting – Strobist Lighting Setup Mon, 18 Jun 2012 01:59:40 +0000 Portrait Lighting on Location – Strobist  off Camera Flash…
  • What you need – (D)SLR, a flash gun and a flash triggering system.
  • Difficulty – Intermediate.
  • Model – Chrissie Red.
  • Lighting diagram –  by Kevin Kertz.

Old Car

I get asked about this image quite a lot, so I decided to write a short post about how it was done.

Below are example images that illustrate the set-up and lighting, which in fact is a fairly simple unmodified single flash, placed on some reeds as there was no stable ground which to place a lighting stand, this of course breaks some rules, because the light is facing upward instead of the usual method of lighting from above. This can be problematic in some situations, particularly for a more full on head shot, but less of an issue for a model in profile.

This image can also be seen in the People and Portrait gallery, titled “Old Car” which has also raised a few questions being a rather odd title for a portrait, however there was a rusted out old car body buried in the embankment which I had to climb inside to get the position that I wanted to shoot from.

Old Car

As can be seen here the flash gun is just carefully balanced on some reeds, appropriately 6 feet in front of the model, pointing slightly upward, the flash zoom setting is a secret, no, not really, it was set to 35mm. The overall scene was manually metered for flash at the models face with the background sky metered one stop below the flash exposure.


The flash gun used is a Canon 580 EX, but essentially not that important other than the fact it is quite a powerful flashgun and therefore was set at 1/4 power as stated in the lighting diagram, if using a less powerful flashgun you may need to have the output set higher, if you have a flash gun with no manual power control you can workaround this by moving it closer or further away from the subject.

The flash was fired with a RF-602 radio receiver with a transmitter on the camera hotshoe, therefore there was no E-TTL flash metering available.

I hope you have found this post interesting or useful, feel free to tell your friends or share the link.

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Street Photography – Panel of Images Sun, 06 May 2012 04:00:10 +0000 Panel Based Competition on Street Photography…

Smoking TriptychI don’t usually talk much about competition photography outside of a small group of peers, as I am usually ok with images I select to use for such things, however on this occasion the theme was on street photography for which a panel of three images were required, a panel is a set of images that have a common theme and link from one image to another. Street photography for me is pretty much way outside of my comfort zone because whilst I couldn’t really care less if someone comes up and makes a photograph of me (though if that happened it would be a pretty odd event as I’m really not that photogenic) some people don’t like that and I have to respect that, If I felt that way and someone came up and made a photograph of me, I think I would be a little annoyed, so that is my and indeed their prerogative, even though in the UK where I live, legally it is ok to do so on the street and in a public place, I feel it is morally and ethically incorrect, yes I have photographed a lot of people but all with prior arrangement, so not really the same. With all that said, I personally think you can go about street photography one of maybe three ways, covertly photograph people as you really record the moment as it happened, you can aproach someone and ask if it is ok to photograph them, so you cover the moral and ethical aspect, but in most cases you loose the spontaneity, so it’s no longer a record of true reality, lastly you can organise and set up a shot or a scene event with a friend, family member, willing “victim” or a model, this could actually work quite well, but still not a true reflection of reality. So anyway, this is the finished panel more or less as it was presented, no real result or chance of winning the competition, but that wasn’t really the point, which was pretty much to have a go at something I find challenging and also enjoyable, following I will post each image individually, my reasons for them and the judges comments, though just from memory so not absolutely word for word.  I chose Smoking as my topic as it is a pretty topical subject one way or another.

Smoking 1

What I thought. A man enjoying a draw on a cigarette, (Fag UK slang) this probably actually looks better in colour, as you can see the glowing tip and colourful “dredlochs” at an outside street cafe, smoking now being illegal in a public enclosed space or premises, a sea of people milling back and forth in the background and another man looking on, my interpretation, looking rather disapproving of the smoker. What the judge said. I like this image as it has a fairly clear subject/theme, though I think it would be stronger if the composition was tighter to the smoking mans back giving more emphasis to the smoking theme I also think it could be cropped to remove some of the people in the background as I don’t feel they add anything to the image over all.

Smoking 2

What I thought. A quit smoking street stall on a very bust street, with people giving it a wide birth, not really clear from the photo, well there’s a bit of a blooper, but there you go, but I found it interesting because despite the street being very busy, people voted with their feet, saying, hey don’t shove quitting in our face, if we really want to quit we will do it our own way. What the judge said. This doesn’t really say much to me, I see a quit smoking product stall, which is actually not straight, though not really a problem, sometimes its ok to have a photo that isn’t straight (oops, silly me) with a few people on the outside of the frame.


What I thought.. A pretty abstract street photograph. A street bin with the stubber on the top and some cigarette ends (dog ends UK slang) shot with a Lensbaby Composer with creative aperture kit two bird aperture disk, background street lights providing the specular highlights, to make the bird shapes more prominent, following on from the quit smoking image, free as a bird from the weed. What the judge said. I really like this and the thought that has gone into this image, though I will have to take the authors word for it that is is a street photograph as it is not clearly obvious, I’m not sure what it is trying to say, maybe the spirits or souls going to heaven after dying from smoking. Final thoughts. Having previously seen the judges own street photography, I can only say I am happy to have my efforts picked apart from someone that knows what they are talking about, total respect for someone that can do that to great effect, anyone that thinks street photography is easy, is far from the truth in my opinion. A little confession, knowing he also likes something a little abstract or off the wall, the final image was a bit of a strategic attempt to salvage what was otherwise a fairly bland attempt at street photography, so while the whole event was a bit of a non runner, I did at least get constructive feedback and positive comments on a strange image that he liked, so all not a total flop! This was actually supposed to be a few words and supporting images, but it turned into a bit of an animal, oops sorry. 🙂

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Livingston Celebrates 50 Years – Fiddle Rally Sat, 14 Apr 2012 23:38:30 +0000 Fiddle Rally Celebrating Livingstons 50 Year Anniversary…

As part of the Livingston, West Lothian 50 Year Birthday celebrations, a Fiddle Rally with The Livingston Fiddlers who were formed in 1979,  performed with guest musicians from Edinburgh and surrounding areas to play a Live Concert at Howden Park Centre. On April 14th 2012. I was asked by local photographer Tom Gilland who plays for The Livingston Fiddlers if I would go along to take some photographs of the event, great as we photographers can be, we still can’t be in two places at once, so I went along, this is just one of the shots from the event, which was pretty much packed out.
Fiddle Rally

Livingston will be 50 years old on 17th April 2012.

For more information on the Livingston 50 Celebrations and events, pleasse visit the Livingston 50 webpage.

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Forth (Rail) Bridge at night – Lighting Scotland Fri, 13 Apr 2012 23:01:49 +0000 Night photography of the Forth Bridge…

Forth (Rail) Bridge at NightA recent trip out in search of something interesting to photograph at night. Not technically light painting, but night photography none the less, the Forth (Rail) Bridge has been undergoing some renovations for a number of years, which has kind of spoiled the aesthetics of this lovely and interesting structure with white cladding in various sections making photography of it a little messy. This seemed to finish a short time ago, the cladding now gone, and from what I can remember of the bridges illuminations, this has undergone a fairly significant upgrade too, though the bright spotlights along the base supports does make exposure a little tricky.

How the shot was made

This photo of the Forth Bridge was shot as the evening light faded to night, exposure time is appropriately 10 seconds from a tripod mounted camera, with an inverted neutral density (ND8) filter to try to hold the over exposure of the floodlights whilst achieving a relatively even exposure of the bridge and retaining some sky detail.

One of the longest cantilever bridges in the world.

The forth Bridge completed in 1890 was the longest spanning cantilever bridge in the world at 521 meters/1,710 feet until the Quebec Bridge (Pont de Québec) was completed in 1917, spanning 549 meters/1,800 feet, the Forth Bridge still remains the longest spanning cantilever bridge in Europe and the second longest in the world and that seems unlikely to change.


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pAs$w0rD to0ls! – A Word About Words Thu, 12 Apr 2012 20:49:30 +0000 Getting the best out of your password…

I originally wrote this to send to friends who asked me for advice about password security when they have had one or more of their web accounts compromised, so I decided to post it here for others and so that I can just send a link to anyone to simplify the process.

Don’t look for the pretty pictures in this post, there aren’t any, normal service will resume shortly.

The following is just basic advice with some useful links, I am not a web security expert therefore this is just my personal opinion based on my own experiences.

To log in to most web services, other than secure accounts such as on-line banking, you usually have either a user/login name name or an e-mail address as part one of the login process.
A username is not hard to find out and there is not a lot you can do about that. An e-mail address, a little more tricky but still fairly easy to obtain, especially if you have earned yourself a little trust or received an email from someone.

Part two is the password, this is your door key, the one weapon you have that if you are careful will keep your account(s) as safe as possible if you take some basic steps to make it harder to guess, it is recommended that a password should be at least 8 characters long, 12 or more would be better, and to include special characters, such as $, & numbers and UPPER and lower case type, the more characters it has the better chance you stand or making it as secure as possible.

If you use a webmail service such as Hotmail, Windows Live Mail,  Gmail, Yahoo or some other webmail service, having a secure password is all the more important, whilst you may not have anything in your e-mails that you consider worth protecting, having your e-mail hacked and used to send spam, apart from being annoying can be a major inconvenience to chase down and regain control of your account.

One thing you should never do is have the same password for everything, as tempting as this may be for the sake of ease, if you also use the same e-mail address for two or more accounts, you then potentially leave yourself open if one account is compromised, they could all be. Another thing you should not do is use a common word, such as password, yes some people do this, or other easy to guess words, pets names, football teams etc.

Starting with one of the top ten most common words used for a password, believe it or not, is actually password and it is one of the first words hackers or software will try, then other common words, football teams, pet names as mentioned above.

So for the sake of making the simple more complex and going back to that  password again as an example, I’m not suggesting you should use this, but just as an example to see how you can make this simple word quite secure and easy to remember, simply by making it a bit random and adding a special character or two, numbers and upper and lower case letters, like..


Taking it a step further, add two words together again both with a bit of randomness, numbers, upper/lower case and special characters.
Take the post title, remove the space (because spaces aren’t allowed in passwords) now you have a pretty secure password that is hard to guess, but by no means impossible…

Below are some links to password tests and tools, go and have a play with “password” “pAs$w0rD!” and “pAs$w0rDto0!s!  with the different tools and see what difference it makes.

If you are still not convinced that you can make up a secure password, use a password generator, though you will have to devise a way of remembering it!

Password Strength Tests.

Test my Password strength is one of favourite, because it is kind of fun to play with and gives you a “how long it will take to guess” rating from almost instant to several trillion years or more, based on how an auto password hacking tool will approach cracking a password by way of randomly guessing your password starting with simple common words. It also has a good explanation of the importance of using good passwords and how to avoid weak ones.

Password Meter is maybe the most informative and it gives you a score and explanation of why a password is strong or weak and how you can make it stronger.

Passchk gives an explanation as to how secure a password might be.

Test Your Password. Everything under one roof, generates a random 8 character password by default, increasing the length from 8 to 14 characters makes your password a lot stronger.


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Playing with Light – Part 1 Wed, 08 Feb 2012 22:37:42 +0000 Experiments and Playing with Light Part 1…

Neon I spend quite a lot of time just playing with light, either artificial ambient light, additional lighting by way of any light emitting tools/toys or a mixture of two or more lighting situations. I do this for a number of reasons, either to experiment or simply because I am uncertain how a lighting process will actually look when longer exposures are used, as there are some variables unlike “normal” exposures in daylight, where you can see how light is falling on a scene or subject matter and can therefore build a fairly accurate picture in your minds eye. Take away all or most of the light and then by adding your own changes some of the usual rules. Firstly because you cannot effectively see how light is falling, how this may be effected by a longer exposure and the effect of the movement of the light tool during the capture, though you do get an idea of what might happen the more you do, sometimes there can be surprising results. This particular experiment was to attempt to get a neon light effect, I used a Mini Maglite torch with the reflector removed so there is just the bare bulb, the colours were achieved by rapping a small piece of coloured gel filter around the torch head and tracing the lines and dials of my cooker/hob and turning the internal light in for a few seconds. As experiments go, it was quite interesting.

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