Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever: Whelans by Aaron Corr

Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever, all the way from sunny Australia, made their debut Irish show in Whelans, and they brought the heat with them.  It wasn't even a sunny day but the heat was stifling in the venue.  It's been a while since I shot a show, though I've attended quite a few in the blog's downtime.  



Opening up the show was Melts, who impressed me a lot.  After just two songs of shooting them the sweat was dripping down my face, such was the heat in the not-yet-packed Whelans.  They didn't share the same drum kit as Rolling Blackouts, which brought a bit of change to the normal support set up, and gave a real closeness to the drummer shots.



Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever

Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever

By the time Rolling Blackouts C.F. arrive on stage I was craving one of their beers with the heat.  Mine was long gone, and the place was getting even sweatier once they kicked things off.  The five piece were infectious from start to finish, with some great guitar solos and interplay.

At one point bassist, Joe Russo, broke a string and draped it over his head like an additional guitar strap and ploughed on through the rest of the song.  The band were in jovial form for their last night of the European tour before making their way to the USA.  Lighting wise, it was the usual Whelans set up throughout the night, some overblown colour LED's making editing afterwards a bit of a headache.

The band hung out afterwards to sign vinyl and chat to fans.  I for one went away with a signed record and a promise that they plan to come back again as soon as they can.  Vicar Street no doubt beckons them on their return.

Read the review of the show on The Thin Air, and here for more photos. 



Vulpynes: Plec Picks 2018 by Aaron Corr

Vulpynes were the first band I shot for GoldenPlec's Plec Picks for 2018.  Maeve & Kaz hit upon the idea of using the Light House cinema in Smithfield as an interior for some of the shoot.  It was December, it was freezing and the options can be tricky.  We got the go ahead from the manager, and a time for when it wouldn’t be too busy in the halls while screenings were in progress.  The trick to this part of the shoot was balancing the ambient light with the strobe.  I wanted to get these wide shots, but the strobe sometimes would overpower the fairy lights.  While there was no one breathing down our necks to hurry it up, I knew we had to keep things ticking along and not take the piss, so I got to a point where the lighting felt like a happy medium.   

I took some solo snaps of each of the girls, leaving the strobe alone for these shots since being this close to the fairy lights wasn't working to balance the two.

We ventured out to the cold and had a look towards a pub that we hoped to use.  It was busy for a Monday so we nixed that idea.  We moved up towards the Old Woolen Mills area to see what the square there was like.  We shot a few portraits on staircase, I used my portable soft-box for this part of the shoot.

We moved on to a location I'd long had in mind to use.  It was just around the corner from where I live in Dublin 7 and was a corner of a traffic junction, previously a wall with posters on it, and now it's a section of a rustic garden.  I like finding places in the city centre that look like you are somewhere completely different.  I set up the strobe on a tripod with the soft-box and we took within five minutes to take some photos as traffic passed us by.  Maeve and Kaz were great to hang out with and I'm grateful for them to participate in some of the colder shots on the night.  

Click to read the feature, and here for my gallery.

Laoise: 18 for '18 Photoshoot by Aaron Corr

This December and January have been the busiest for running portrait shoots for GoldenPlec and The Thin Air so far.  I added Laoise to my list of shoots to do for The Thin Air's 18 for '18 features.  We were to meet up on a Saturday evening in Dublin city centre, and try get a neon look for the shoot, inspired by her recent video for her recent single, Rich.  I got to thinking about where had good neon lights or that colourful vibe at least.  I took a stroll around the city trying to get ideas, with the focus being on a particular restaurant that has a very cool neon interior based on all the pictures I’d seen online, but I’d yet to visit it.  They called me back late in the day, it turned out they wanted a hefty fee for us to do the shoot, so that was out of the question.  

This setback left me wrecking my head in the last hour before we were to meet.  We'd reluctantly agreed to meet at Grand Canal Dock to see about using the giant, red light poles that decorate the front area of Bord Gais Theatre.  It was a chilly night, and I don’t like to use obvious locations if I can avoid it so it wasn’t ideal.  Twenty minutes before I left my apartment a friend messaged me with a pic of a new enough bar on the quays, Riot.  They had this neon sign that said ‘fuck what people think’.  Laoise loved it.  I stopped in to inquire on the way to meet her, and the guys had no problem to let us use the premises for the shoot.  As luck would have it, the neon sign was downstairs, which wasn’t yet open for customers at that yime of the night, which gave us more privacy to work without being distracted.

All was going well, and then my Canon 430 EX-II decided it didn't want to participate.  It wouldn’t turn off or let me adjust the settings.  I used my Yongnuo 565 backup flash with a blue gel and shot it through my trusted softbox.  I turned the lights of the room off to get the full effect of the neon glow.  At times this made it difficult to focus on Laoise as she was completely in the dark.  I'd focus at times by using the flashlight on my phone.  Her friend helped out by holding a reflector so the blue flash would bounce back and light up the left side of her face that was getting cast in shadow. 

I loved how these shots turned out.  When we finished using the neon sign we tried a handful of snaps in a dimly lit corner room with a leather couch, and a lamp.  I tried using a pink gel on the flash this time to mix things up.  The writing on the wall was a bit too garish and the tight space in which to shoot wasn't as ideal as it looked from first impression, so we moved on.  

We took a few more shots on the stage that was opposite the neon sign, where more neon-ish lights light the roof and changed colours every few seconds.  I stood Laoise under a light in the ceiling, and put the bare flash with pink gel behind her for some rim light.  Her eyes were cast in shadow so I had the reflector fill in some light to her face to overcome this.  Thankfully, despite initial frustrations in getting the ideal location, it turned into a really cool shoot.

Click here to read the feature, and here for my photo gallery.

Dowry: 18 for '18 Photoshoot by Aaron Corr

In December The Thin Air  set me up to do an 18 for '18 feature with Dowry, aka Éna Brennan.  Éna was great at collaborating on picking a location for the shoot, and organised for us to take photos in her chosen location.  This gave us a lot to work with in terms of rooms, hallways, and stairways that gave a variety of looks from run down, abandoned and class.  Even though only one photo was required for the piece we took advantage of the opportunity to shoot a few set ups around the building.  

Read the feature here, and my gallery here.

Girlfriend Photoshoot by Aaron Corr

The Thin Air asked me to do a photo-shoot with the band Girlfriend for issue 15 of the magazine.  They are mainly based in Bettystown which is just under an hour's drive from Dublin.  Ahead of time they filled me in on potential locations about the town that we could use for the shoot, and given I was going to be travelling a small distance I figured we could take our time and do a few more set ups than a shoot like this usually needed.  This was their first band photo-shoot so it was a good way for them to get used to the process.  The only downside was that all four members wouldn't be present as their drummer, Lahela, was in the USA on a J-1.  I asked them to think about a way we could possibly represent her in a few photos.

The Saturday that I drove to meet them was one of the hotter and sunnier days we'd had all Summer.  I drove past nearby beaches to find my way to the seaside town and met Hana, Lisa & Sophie outside the local arcade.  I was excited at the prospect of shooting inside it but I couldn't let the good weather go to waste first so we set up near one of the abandoned buildings nearby as they had suggested to start with.  They chose to represent Lahela with a balloon and taped a picture of her to it.  The breeze tended to get the better of the balloon so we would abandon the idea after we tried a few shots with it.

We moved from one unused building to another across the road which had graffiti on the door that said "death is around every corner".  This was a nice touch and something they felt would be apt, however the sun was directly in the girl's faces causing them to squint in many of the shots.  I didn't like how the shots were framed based on my limited vantage points in trying to fit the girls & graffiti in frame so I abandoned this set up to go around the back of the building and try something there. 

At the back there was more graffiti on doors, and the walls were covered in leaves.  I opted for the latter, mainly due to the fact that parked cars blocked half the building.  With the girls now in a little bit of shadow I used a fill flash, hand held off the camera and covered with a lumiquest softbox ltp.  I had brought a tripod and large softbox but kept them in the car until I felt I would need them, they never made an appearance.  By this stage I was ready to go try out the amusement arcade.

We browsed the arcade to see what was cool and what they'd be comfortable with posing in front of while the general public passed by.  The first stop was at the slot machines.  I held the flash off camera again, this time with no softbox.  Behind me were more machines so this was the widest I could go for this shot.  Sophie, on the right, was the hardest to keep lit as I held the flash aloft with my left hand but struggled to get an even spread of light.  I fixed this is post processing (frustratingly since shooting at Hell & Back not long before this shoot I forgot to revert my files to shoot in RAW, so my editing was quite restricted).  I have mixed feelings with the result as I wanted to get more ambient light from the machines mixed with the fill flash but I would have needed to give myself more time, and with paying punters walking by I didn't want to linger on too long in one place.

The next shot was simpler and more effective.  Using the lights of the pool hall and nearby machines I shot the girls in this neon light without any flash.  The main issue was the people playing pool in the background, but ultimately I found they proved no distraction in the end result.

Possibly my favourite shot of the day came from using the neon lights in the seated area of the bowling alley.  The effect comes across a little like that the girls are in a diner, and I love how they each look in the above shot.  I tried this from a few angles but having caught this shot in the first few frames, I knew I wouldn't beat it.

We'd got to the point where we wanted to use parts of the arcade that we'd better get approval on.  Having scoped out the place on arrival two areas had stood out, the bumper cars and this shooting game, complete with cartoonish background & characters.  Management gave me the go ahead so I gave the girls the nod to hop the barrier and enter the scene.  What we hadn't accounted for was the amount of dust on the floorboards and the height restriction.  I stood outside and again used the natural light of the game for the above shot.  I couldn't quite get the full skull in the picture while keeping in the sign above the game.  If I went any wider the gun station at the front would be in the way and be an unnecessary distraction.  The girls kneeled and sat down on the floorboards for the most part for these shots, getting covered in years old dust in the process.  My apologies ladies.

For the finale we made our way to the bumper cars and made sure they were not in use and that there was no queue.  We ended up asking a young girl at the entrance if we could use it for a few minutes, not realising she was just a passing kid and not an underage, underpaid staff member.  Again we got official approval to gain access and use the area.  What drew me to it were the mirrored walls of light that would flicker on/off and in different patterns.  We tried once more to use the balloon but it was not staying afloat and would turn the wrong way.  It was kicked to the side for a final time.  I had some cool wide shots of the girls in the whole bumper car space but I wasn't a fan of how the balloon looked in those pictures that I never gave it a full edit.  In my rush to get good use of the space I forgot to take a version of the shot without it.

I alternated between using the fill flash, and using just the lights from the wall to get a natural result I was pleased with.  The above image is what appeared in the magazine in the end.  Afterwards we sat with a drink in the diner, looking back over the results to make sure we all liked what we had taken.  Overall this turned out to be one of the best & most fun shoots I've run so far.  The band were great company and fun to work with.  I'm sure I'll run into them again some time in the future and catch them live.   

Equipment used: