Monday, 14 September 2009

An International End

DynaMike is the last of the international stars to be gracing the High Street post Fringe season 2009.

I could describe or try to describe his show, but that would take away a little of what he's been performing on the High Street.

His dynamic personality is whats on show. And the high knife passes I just can't catch; because I don't shoot wide. They are high passes. I really mean HIGH passes.

So next year how do I catch this action. It looks like I've another photographic challenge. And I do so like a challenge.

A knife soars,
Caught in skillful hands.

A dynamike haiku.

The Canon 50D a Dream of a Camera

The Canon 50D

A review from a Nikon user.

I've never been drawn to one brand of camera over another. About ten years ago I had just about settled on buying a Canon EOS 1N and the 35-350 lens.
Disaster had struck on the way home testing it one weekend and I was run over while cycling home.

I wasn't quite run over as much as I'd spotted the car coming for me, managed to stand on the crossbar of the bike, which was stripped out from under me as I did a couple of sommersaults into the windscreen, bonnet and finally the ground. With my backpack and head taking most of the punishment.

"It would make a great street show moment."

A bit of a battle ensued with the driver's insurance company, but finally it was agreed that the camera and lens had to be written off and it was unceremoniously destroyed with a sledge hammer.

Replacing the EOS, I had to then choose something a little more affordable. So I got the Nikon F90X. Five, six years down the line I'd moved to the F5 and the F100. Before giving up my film career and picking up a digital camera on the odd occasion.

With my Fringe photography and the reputation I have on the High Street and with all the right contacts Canon got in on the act this year with the loan of a 50D with a 17-85 and a 70-300 lens.

The camera is a joy to work with. Within a day (without instructions) I'd worked out most of the things I like cameras to do. Had spent that first day or first couple of hours just confusing the camera with different scenarios to see how it coped. Wonderfully was how I felt.

The lenses great. The drive fast enough to keep up with the action I shoot on the High Street. And once I'd remembered the Left/ Right rules (Nikon/Canon) I was balancing on bollards like a mad man under my brolly in all weathers getting shots because there are times that most photographers just give up.

The camera didn't give up. The battery lasted all day on the days I did seriously pushed it to the limit. That's on the day's when I used the pop up flash (which I'm not much of a fan of, whether it be on any SLR camera.

After that I was happy to use the camera as I've always treated a digital camera. As if I'm using film. People ask and always have asked if I have anything good on the day. My reply was almost always the same. "I hope so." I don't check images; if I know the camera can do the business. If I know the exposures correct. Its pointless checking images constantly through out the day. I think you could miss things. If you understand the nature of film photography or photography in general then why do you have to check if you've got it right.

I'll not guarantee that every image I shoot will be 100% or perfect. But over the last couple of years I'm now shooting less and less images every year. I know people with digital cameras that are shooting even more. If I was still on film there were days this year I'd have shot less than 3 rolls of 36 exposures. When in my early years on film I'd easily be shooting 8 to 10 rolls a day.

The canon was beautiful to work with. In all weather conditions come rain or shine. It did prove its worth in my last week where I pushed it to its limit and did some theatre work with it. If it had not been up for the challenge then I don't think I'd have gone back 5 nights to the same show.

Canon will probably be jumping up and down with joy at this point, because having "retired" over the last few years. I've almost decided that I could very easily work with that camera again. So yes this time Canon might just have converted me over to their camera system and maybe even a 50D.

I had already stepped into their digital camera market with the purchase of the Canon G10 compact. Which I'll say right here right now is probably the best compact camera out there in the market place right now. It's rugged. It's responsive and it takes fantastic photos. Who but me would do unique shots from St. Giles and use a compact. But it is a professional compact.

Friday, 4 September 2009

Eddie Izzard on the Mile, Just Running Through

The last week was a little slow in terms of what was happening, there were day's it was that slow I'd thought about just about giving up and heading to the pub.

I'd said this to one of the High Street staff one day, and she'd said I should carry on, as there was always something happening. I did, but almost nothing exciting that day happened. End of the Fringe blues was setting in early.

The next day I dragged myself out of bed hoping it would be better, sadly almost the same right up until a cart and bundle of people were running down the street.
I was about to find out why a camera crew and a bunch of people were interupting a performers show. How disrespectful, but they vered off to one side and squezed through down the left hand edge of the crowd. Then the throng started to gather it was a slight stop. It was Eddie Izzard and camera crew on his run for Sport Releif around Britain .

I'd just recently decided to stop by Cake or Death, and dropped Lyn a message, to say "hi" and I was still getting visitors from the site which is always a buzz.
She'd written back to tell me about Eddie's run. I'd not heard anything so it was something I'd said I'd have to watch out for.

Eddie on the High Street, what a bonus. It might only be a couple of shots and not the few hundred I got last time he was in Edinburgh and performing just off the High street.

As he sped off down the High Street he got caught at the traffic lights, where I managed to speak to him briefly and grab that final shot before he ran off on his truly heroic effort.

Well done Eddie Izzard!

The Power To Move People

Every morning during the Fringe the street performers who take centre stage on the High Street, Parliment Square or Hunter Square and The Mound have a draw where there shows are allocated for that day.
The draw means an early rise to hopefully secure your slot entertaining that day. But there are on some days more performers than show slots availible.

It's on these mornings I arrive early too and spend my time saying hi to friends not seen for a year or more. Or just introducing myself to new faces their first time in Edinburgh .

It's this time I use to get the photo which has almost become my "signature" shot from over the last few years Group photo,J-P sadly not in Edinburgh this year and one or two others have always been surprised that I can get 50 to 60 street performers to obey my orders even just for a few minutes. Wow that sense of power!

I'm sure if they didn't want to be a part of it they'd just not move.

Thursday, 3 September 2009

Now That The Fringe is Over

With the Fringe at an end my work continues. I have more photos I'll need to add to my blog. I have disks I need to prepare for performers, I didn't get done.

I have photos I've promised one or two casts. And maybe others who may just ask.

My year this year was great, but I think I'm being more selective in what I shoot. There are a lot less images than last year. But in my eyes better work, but I never feel thats for me to decide only the people that matter. Those people that are part of The Fringe and are the subject matter of the pictures themselves.

Visitors this year make me think I've had a good year. With around 3,500 hits just for August this has been my best year for a few. Maybe next year I can improve again, but I think that I might be pushing it a bit, but all I can do is see what happens. Oh no I'm already thinking about next year... AHHH!

A Spider and Faces

Casts on the High Street in large numbers this year were a little few on the ground.

Z theatre as always one of the biggest groups.

Then I'd recon, that Metamorphosis came a close second in numbers.

Their giant insect of black Lycra and painted faces dominating the High Street almost every day.
Their painted faces did give me great targets to play with on days I struggled to find anything else of interest at certain times of the day.
Which was either me being lazy or some groups not showing the street the respect it deserves?

Metamorphosis were there on the High street for the duration. That's a good run promoting and I'll take my hat off to them for their efforts.

Wednesday, 2 September 2009

What Magic Awaits?

The longest three hundred meters await anyone stepping out on to The Royal Mile; the High Street Section.

Olympian athletes would toil to finish, rugby players would dodge and weave to exhaustion.

For the magic that is the High Street in August is all about the crowds.

If the population of Edinburgh doubles during the Fringe, then they all seem to fit in to the space that is the High Street.

It's TARDIS-like ability to swallow up people a true part of what make the Fringe a pleasure to some and a hindrance to others.

Those who hate the Fringe have no soul, no magic in them. They see only a crowded street and not the beauty there in.

The Fringe is the sum of all the elements that merge on the High street. It's the street performers, the production companies and the flyerers.

This melting pot of mayhem. Becomes the brew that wafts through Edinburgh for its three week run and delivers joy and magic that most will return for year in year out.

Return, of course I'll return.

Saturday, 8 August 2009

Doctor Faustus, Best Actress in...

Doctor Faustus
Zigzag Creations
The Monkey House @ The Zoo
Stunning costumes and fabulous make up make this a show with the draw the High street needs.

This show in three days has already caught me by the throat and is strangling the life out of me.

This is just the street promotion and I'm impressed. If their theatrical ability is this powerful then five stars I'm sure they'll get in The Scotsman, The List And Three Weeks.

On street credibility alone five stars. On costume and make up five stars.
On the sheer dynamic presence of it's cast on the street five stars.
On the sheer dynamic presence five stars. Thats a Fringe First this year!

And a Olivier Award to ...

A Guide To good Street Credibility

Actors and actresses take to the street in Edinburgh. Promotion is the key to selling your show.
But some of the more inexperienced in what theatre is forget that the street is a theatre venue for some.

Everyone has a show in some form or another. Mine is my blog, my party. Others the alcoves and the High Street pitches.

But when groups turn up and blast out music and roar over young violinists busking. You'd think they'd respect the street. But alas no.

My blogs places to find photos of all that happens on the street; with one exception. One rule.
Show respect to the street as a theatre venue for all and you may find your photos here. Disrespect the street, "No photos here."

I add this piece almost every year. Maybe I should write up the guide to good street promotion at the Edinburgh Fringe.
So Today I'm taking flyers only from shows you won't find on my blogs.

Rain People Inventing The Sky

For years I've been a fan of dace and physical theatre on the High Street.

My first experience of shooting street dance previews came in my early years covering the Fringe back in 1999/ 2000. With a dance show "Freefall."

At the end of their run I was invited in to the theatre to shoot their show, which was a great privilage as the director of the show was quite protective of her work.

On the street this year comes Rain People - inventing the sky. With an emotive and breath taking display of grace, skill, beauty and passion the young troupe take over their space with the power of a dance company of the precision and prowess of the Bolshoi and the Rambert Dance Company.

These young Russian dancers play their space to perfection. I do hope my busy schedule will allow me the chance to make it to their show; as I've missed every show this year I must see. So this has to be the one show I do want to see.

For on street presence, chemistry and beautiful dancing five stars in my eyes.

Their show is on at 22.30 at Zoo Southside, 117 Nicolson Street. Running until the 31st of August.

Rain People Inventing The Sky, Five Stars *****

I'm no critic when it comes to Fringe time. I pick my theatre upon what happens on the street. (And in the last few years) what time the play is on.

Rain People - Inventing the Sky, a powerful group of young Russian dancers from St. Petersburg have taken over the High Street by storm. So drawn by the chance of something special I decided as a last week treat to take in their show.

Wow was I in for the surprise of my life!

Lives of four characters shaped by chance; perhaps by fate. Played out in silence all but for a cry of one of the cast.

The piece played to perfection, beautifully crafted, yet mesmerising simple.

I can only call it perfection. It's your favourite film on DVD watched over and over again.

I want to buy the DVD right now. It's the show everyone should regret they missed. Lets hope they bring it back next year.

Photographic Paintball

There are days when there seems to be little to photograph. So to amuse myself I came up with a game I introduced to a friend of mine on facebook.
Photographic paintball.

Using the same technique I employ to shoot shows it keeps me sharp, focused and on the ball. It's that "Andrew" photo that some of you out there know and some love.

It's taking the shot you can see without worrying about distractions like people in the foreground or seeing the whole performer.

It's back again to my ethos of Haiku photography, where the part of the bigger picture can sometimes tell you more than the bigger picture itself.

A club, a ball, a hand. To tell the story of how I see the world around me.


Tea drinkers in Scotland take heed there's a theatre company out there with bite.

T.V.G. Make a statement about there world around us and you just have to laugh; even though you may think you shouldn't.

Bringing their art to the street; where in there first year they were thrown out of the Fringe and almost promptly arrested.

Telling the jokes we laugh at on the inside and think hard to walk on straight faced.

Satire that is the medium of the extreme. Where the truth in comedy is the freedom of expression for all.

Where a mornings headline is money in their hat and as always they have the council and police at there heels.

The PC world of today needs comedians to take risks. These risks are the stuff of the dreams of freedom for the oppressed and the abused. These dreams earn them the respect of many and the disdain of a few.

Cutting edge comedy, of course. The truth, of course. It's the freedom to express and most of all it's the freedom to laugh, even though you know you shouldn't.

T.V.G. Are here to make the world take notice. And that they do well.

One should always take note of the Jester in the court of Kings past, he was as powerful a figure as almost the King himself.

Models Galore!

The Fringe in Edinburgh is where you meet the most beautiful women from around the world. It's where stars of the future are made.

It is where my passion for photographing beautiful women was born. I always say if I had a show to promote I'd get the best looking women to promote on my behalf.

My recollections always go back to my second or third year and the girls I spotted on the High street that deserved to be photographed. I was right a job with Select Model agency awaited one of them.

Flyerers, performers and the staff who walk the High Street all get my attention.

A young beautiful lady back again to flyer caught my attention; but still always hiding one day I'll see her potential flower.

New casts and new stars caught my eye.

Russian Dancers to die for.

New friends made over drinks at the City Cafe.

Beautiful casts and stars there of will always take pride of place in my blogs. With the one proviso, that you respect the street, but more on that subject later.

Providing portfolio pictures is something I've tried my hand at for years.

Need a professional, hire one.

I regret all the shots I never got the chance to take. The chance to play in sunshine or showers.

In my final week on the street I had the pleasure of meeting a professional model Marina.

A day or so later a text came in; I got permission to play. In under an hour and a good few hundred shots under our belt we headed to The City Cafe to look over our afternoons work.

Work with her again I hope so. Charming, yes. Beautiful, yes. But truly intelligent

An Internaional Following

As a busking photographer I've made my name amongst the international street entertainment community. From Auckland to Adelaide. From Tokyo to Toronto.

Pedro Tochas I always laugh with saying that he makes me the most famous photographer in Portugal.

And this year I had an early influx of Japanese visitors to my blog thanks to Shut Up Play.
I'd briefly shot them last year and they were generous in there applause in seeing me on the High street once again. I reciprocate in trying to get shots of them when I could.

My first international Fringe theatre group came from America, in the form of Firefly Productions. Good friends still to this day I sadly miss on the High Street, desperately awaiting their return.

The International flavour spiced up by the cast; OK, I admit it a very beautiful member of Porn The Musical from Malta.

And finally my new best friends from St. Petersburgh, Russia. Masha and Masha (Or Masha 1 and Masha 2) as I got to know them. As well as the rest of their wonderful cast and crew.

Rain People made my last week spectacular. Special more so for the invite to St. Petersburgh, a man who hates travelling might one day ask if I can take them up on.

How To Promote on The High Street (Part1)

I'd like to try and set down here rules for casts and crews to abide by when promoting on the High Street.

But first a note. It's hard to photograph everyone. But there are some casts I just avoid even though I'd like to shoot.

Good looking casts, great costume, but a loud and disrespectful disdain to everything that's happening around about them. Whether a young child playing the violin through to a large circle show, who'll see more audience members in one show than some of you may see in your entire run. The theatre for these people to perform in is the Street. One day they might just visit your venue.

Sunday, 5 July 2009

Shut Up Play

Back again at the Fringe, Tempo Shut Up Play, were a delight to run into on the High Street. They had caught up with me last year armed as all Japanese tourists are perceived with cameras and I'd taken one or two photos too.

This year their random wandering was curtailed to more visits to the High Street stages. Of which they took full command of in my forays into their realm.

The yellow rain-coated Japanese troupe had made a point of saying "Hi" when they saw me on their first day on the mile and every day from then on and on their last I got another big hug from their leading lady.

Someone I ran into said they had a fantastic show. The problem I have is that I run into to many groups with fantastic shows. And never on at the right time or within my time I allocate to see shows. Maybe next time.

But again with shows with style and a bit of humour on the High street. I'll give them an Andrew 5 star rating. Stepping on to a stage is not always enough. Adding a bit of magic like Tempo Shut Up Play is what is required.

I Think I Need a Doctor

Dominating the High Street and a great many days of photographs from through out this Fringe were the cast from ZigZag Creations. Their daring to stand on the High Street dressed stunningly was always going to be a great draw to the many photographers who prowled and stalked.
I complimented Kate the director on such a stunning array of costume (or lack of it maybe) and such a beautiful and elegant cast.

I was sad that they were not a cast here for the full run. But very probably glad that they did end their run early. Or too many days would have been dominated by so many shots of them promoting their show on the Royal Mile.

Kate had said that their shorter run came down to cost, but she did let me in on an idea that she has for 2010. Zigzag Creations will be back, bigger and longer in 2010, and I'm sure their show will rock the High Street.

Not since 2007 and Foul Play Productions The Devil Chess A Burlesque, has a cast taken the High Street and given it a shake. Just like James Bonds martini. And of course Mr Bond wouldn't mind the presence of a few beautiful women in fact I'm sure he'd appreciate it.

Get Up Stand UP

Comedy, music and a little bit of political awareness. Well that's what Tony, Ann and team were flyering about during the Fringe.

They are Fringe stalwarts, with a few years under their belt. And the beauty is they're a bit like me. They don't mind wadding in to tell people off who make to much noise. Or are disrespectful of how the street "works."

A few minutes every day I did like to wander up and say "Hi."

On one occasion when Rex Boyd was around I just had to introduce Tony to him, as only just the day or so before I'd been telling Tony that I believed that Rex was one of the finest comedians on the comedy circuit at the moment.

Of course they'll be back pink t-shirts and all. A nicer couple on the street I doubt not, and always a great team working with them.

Rain Man

What more can I say about Rain People but brilliant.

But more importantly for me I became their regular supporter during the last week of their run.

Their show was that good.

The two principal female dancers, confusingly Masha. With each their own personality and style which showed in the performances I watched. Were a magical pair Masha 2, I'll call her as it was in the second part of the week I saw her performance on stage told me that on the last night when she stepped on stage and she saw me sitting had the biggest smile inside because I was there to see their last performance.

And she made my day just after when entering from back stage she came bounding over to give me the biggest hug I've ever had from anyone at the Fringe.

At run end I was there to the finish. Deconstruction of props, sets and everything else. Then it was a few moments relaxation and the chance of a celebratory glass of wine.

The cast in the space of the week had become good, or I should say great friends. Sasha the "language" of the group as she was called one day when Svetlana the director took her out of the room for a few minutes

"Our director has taken our language" I was told, but we struggled on each of the cast understanding a little of what I had to say, and communally a translation was formed for each side.

Over the glass of wine I was given an honour, I could not have asked for. I was made part of their company, an honouree "Rain Person or Rain Man.

And on their last evening in Edinburgh before their trip home, they made time to meet me in my regular haunt during the Fringe the City Cafe. It was the last chance for us all to say our good byes. I'd taken in one of there posters and I asked all to write a little something, which Sasha kindly translated on the night before she left.

Final goodbyes were said during the night and I'd like to say I was pretty close to shedding a tear at the loss; for the moment of new found friends.

I do like to make friends during the Fringe, everyone I meet on the High street and spend a bit of time chatting to I consider worthy of a place on my blog. And another face or friend to look forward to seeing the next year.

And it is great to run into people at the Fringe, who you've met over previous years. Maybe that's why people let me take photos, and some of whom I can now consider good friends.

And why my party goes down so well. Who else can show their holiday photos as a slide show and have a hundred or more people turn up. And some of them wanted me to do it again. Crazy people!

Why This Year was Different

Over the last few years it's been a few days in before I feel I've taken photos that match or better work I've produced in years past.

This year I was lucky I feel that I hit the ground running.

People may like what I do, but it's about what I like. What I want a photograph to be.

James and Gordo, two new performers to the High Street in one show before the Fringe officially started gave me images I consider my best work this year.

James one day was having a bad day, a day or so later so I thought what better way to cheer him up than give him a copy of one of the prints I'd done for display in The City Cafe.

The shots I got made my Fringe worth while. They gave me images to aim for for the rest of my time on the High Street. So I must thank them for allowing me the chance to shoot them. Because without them my Fringe year might not have been as good as I feel it has been.

My Top Twenty

What I like and what everyone else likes will of course be completely different. But that's what photography is. I record images I like. Not every shot my best. But it's most of the time just about recording moments.

So this year having been asked what were the best or greatest moments on the High Street I thought what better way to show this was with a top twenty.

Hope you like my choices.

That's almost one shot a day during the Fringe official