Strange place to play the drums!

06th May 2011
When my dad was a lad the North east of England was rich in coal mining activity. Those days are long gone but many legacies remain, slag heaps have been landscaped and turned into recreation areas and former waggonways have been used to create a vast network of footpaths and cycle routes. Just to the north of Newcastle is one of these old heaps, Weetslade, and a well surfaced track leads to the top. I'ts not too hard a climb on a decent bike and after enjoying the views stretching as far as the Cheviots there's an exhilarating descent back down to that network of cycle paths. I quite often use this area when I have an hour or so spare just to take the mountain bike out for a spin and blow out the cobwebs. Secretly I'd love to get on the road bike and head for those further hills to the North but never seem to have the time.
What's all this got to do with photography then?
Should I confuse you even more by bringing a drummer into the mix?
O.K then. A few weeks back I'd done some promo shots for Neal Wood, using a community centre as a makeshift studio. I did get a few good shots but struggled a bit with the lighting. With the room lights on I couldn't darken the background enough, without them I couldn't focus very well.

I was also wanting to do something a little different so we decided to scout out an outdoor location. Weetslade heap was Neal's suggestion, being local and easy to access and I was happy to go along with that though I did have a few more outlandish locations in mind but they had a few too many drawbacks.
We actually started the shoot at a slightly different location, one of the old waggonways which links to the hill heads eastward toward the coast and passes under the A189. The underpass, not surprisingly, has had a number of visits from local graffiti artists and I thought this would make an interesting backdrop. Neal did at one point proclaim that it was the weirdest place he'd ever set up a drumkit but with my SB900 in a softbox, a gold reflector next to me and my 35mm prime lens we set about capturing the first images of the evening.

With the last hour of sunlight upon us it was time to relocate to the hill and, with the help of Neal's friend, we began our ascent. With almost my full kit on my back and two heavy duty lightstands I also ended up carrying the drum stool. Now that brings us sweetly back to the cycling. Walking up thet hill was a bit of a hard slog but thankfully all that cycling keeps me pretty fit and I took things in my stride. With the sun dipping toward the horizon it was time to did a second flashgun out of the bag to throw a bit extra light onto Neal. I also switched lenses, first to my 24-70 f2.8 then to my Sigma 10-20 for some wider shots.

So, two different locations in one evening and one more happy customer. I'm now planning to do a shoot with some dancers, I wonder what kind of location I might pass next time I'm out on the bike.

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