Category Archives: Photos

Smegma, Runzelstirn & Gurgelstock et al – gig review

Here’s an old review of a Freenoise gig which I wrote for Sandman, published about a year ago.
Runzelstirn & Gurgelstock

Smegma / Chora / The Hototogisu / Runzelstirn & Gurgelstock
Freenoise @ D’nR Live

Freenoise have showcased some fascinating line-ups in Sheffield over the last six months. Tonight they’d coaxed veteran “kings’n’queen of Freenoise” Smegma all the way from the USA. It’s a great shame that so few people ventured out on a Wednesday evening to witness the bizarre goings on.

The evening kicked off with local boys (and Freenoise regulars) Chora. Two men scrabbled on the floor, fiddling with guitars, percussion, effects boxes and other sundry noise toys. It didn’t make for great viewing but the sounds they conjured up were awe-inspiring. Actually, the whole 15-minute performance was made up of just one sound: an ever-advancing wall of noise which masked unexpected subtleties, dancing symphonies of tinnitus.

Hototogisu offered more of the same but different. Again, two people tinkered with guitars and toys, making loud-yet-subtle sound sculptures. Their performance had rather more dynamic range than Chora’s, stretches of quiet among the deafening tumult. But they also proved the maxim that less is more: 15 minutes is about the right length for this sort of set, 45 minutes somewhat exhausting and counter-productive.

Runzelstirn & Gurgelstock (from Switzerland via Japan and London) were very different, different in fact from anything I’ve ever seen before. Runzelstirn, looking like a bedraggled S&M gimp, sat in a chair wearing a skirt, rubber gloves and a long black wig. He hardly moved, except to open and close his eyes, but two microphones hanging from the corners of his mouth broadcast heavy breathing to the audience. In each hand was a switch connected to a wire, and as he caressed them the room filled with sounds of children and chaos. Meanwhile his partner Gurgelstock stalked the venue in a goblin mask, unsettling the audience by singling people out and standing next to them, while the tiny Roland amplifier on his shoulder beeped intermittently.

Finally Smegma took the stage. The band have been together since 1972, and had more than a few grey hairs to show for it, but their performance was full of energy. The set was entirely improvised, but their long experience playing as a unit made it incredibly coherent, frequently coagulating into swampy jazz-rock rhythms and funky beats which would hover for a minute or so before gradually reforming into something different.

Shame you missed it, next time, try harder! And keep an eye on for more of the same, but oh so very different.

Dan Sumption

Freshly Shot!

I’ve uploaded a few new photosets to Dan Shot Me over the last few weeks and, as usual, forgotten to mention anything about them here. In fact, I’m not quite sure what I’ve posted here already, but check out the Peek-a-boo burlesque photos, the Everybody loves Hiem (featuring Pink Grease, Darlings of the Splitscreen, the Carol-Anne Showband and a tank) photos, both from last Saturday night, and especially the rather wonderful Pink Grease roller disco photos (also featuring the 80s Matchbox B-Line Disaster) and then head over to the photo galleries page and see what else is new.

Pink Grease roller disco photos

Sorry to everyone who’s had to wait these last two weeks… but I finally got my Pink Grease and 80s Matchbox doo-dad Disaster photos sorted out. Enjoy!

And if you’re in Sheffield this weekend, please come and vist me – I am opening up my house and showing off my photos as part of Sheffield Open Up, details here. I’ll have all sorts of stuff for sale – photos, CDs, books, badges, postcards… – to fit all budgets as long as your budget’s somewhere in between 30p and £80, and I’ll also have free tea, coffee, herbal brews and lemonade.

Clunk, Click, Every Trip… until now

Old Blue LastIt’s almost a truism that, whenever you most rely on it, some piece of photographic equipment is going to fail. This has certainly been my experience, although until now it has been limited to cheap and dodgy flashes and triggers which refuse to work when on a job, but then fire up fine the next morning.

And so when, for the first time, a strange woman walked up to me in a pub, spotted my camera, and started taking her clothes off, you could almost guarantee that something was going to go wrong. I fired off a few shots but then, shortly after hitting (I think) either 60,000 or 70,000 shutter actuations, my Canon EOS 20D stopped working. Auto-focus was fine, metering was fine, everything was fine, it just wouldn’t fire the damn shutter. I could even get the shutter to life using the sensor-cleaning shutter lock-up mechanism, but using the normal photographic mechanism yielded nothing. I changed batteries, lenses, even memory cards, but still no change. Looks like I have to take out one last additional mortgage on my house to pay the £200-odd to get the shutter fixed. Either that, or pay £350 for a new (refurbished) 20D, or £3000 for an EOS-1D Mk III. And then find some more money for lenses 🙁

Update: this morning, it works… slightly. I have to squeeze the button very hard, for about half a second, and then I generally get it to fire. This makes me think that the button, rather than the shutter, is what’s broken (auto-focus still works fine on a half-press of the button). Perhaps last night’s strange situation made me sweat too much, and the sweat got in the button and bust it? 🙂

Art and nightclub photography controversy

(I started writing this post just over a month ago. Just spotted it in my drafts, hence it’s a little out-of-date).
Last night was wonderful! I did my first live-run as and it worked a dream. And I did plenty more too…

First up, I went to an open studios event at Persistence Works/Yorkshire Artspace. The event itself was a lot more fun than I’d expected, but even better I got paid to photograph proceedings (and I found out when I got there that after some internal negotiation, my initially rather small fee had been doubled!) I was worried that I wouldn’t get anything worthwhile, as I was a bit unprepared and very rushed, but in the event I got plenty of good photos.

After a whirlwind tour around Persistence Works, I headed back out of town to Jonny’s, where a Tajalli Vortex jam session was under way. Annabel, our new singer, joined us, and the resulting music was wonderful, she added a vital dimension, and at last our sound seems complete.

At 11pm, we packed up and Jonny and I headed over to Corporation. I’d told Mark, the owner of Corp, about my Dan Shot Me idea a couple of weeks ago, and he had seemed (if possible) even more enthusiastic about it than me. He rang me again the other day to ask when I was going to come down, so I thought it would be rude not to.

When we got there, Mark showed me around a bit and then let me loose to take some pictures. I was quite nervous at first, doing my usual: walking around and snapping surreptitiously while walking by, then scuttling off before someone has time to object. But then I started confronting people more directly, and at first some took offence but once I started handing out the badges and got

Had a funny ending to the night. I got into an argument with a bouncer because I’d taken a photo of a girl without asking her permission, and she got pissed off. We argued for about 10 minutes over whether or not I was allowed to take photos without asking permission, he asked whether I was a full-time professional photographer, I said no and he said he was so he knew what he was talking about and I didn’t. I told him most of the professional photographers I’ve come across aren’t worthy to kiss my arse, or words to that effect, which didn’t go down to well, but in the end he accepted that I was more-or-less, but very rude. I told him he was right and I didn’t give a shit. Then he went to have a long chat with the nightclub owner (the one who rang me when I was in London asking me to come and take photos). I had to wait outside the door, as if it was the headmaster’s office. Then the bouncer left and I went in to chat to the owner, who basically couldn’t give a toss that I was photographing people without their permission. Nice outcome!

I left then anyway, because my flash was on the blink and I knew I had more than enough good nightclub photos. It was 2am. I put my head up to the frosted windows of the Washington pub on the way back, just to try and discern whether any of the bar staff were still around. Somehow somebody spotted and recognised me through the glass (maybe it’s the beard), so they let me in, I got one last drink while they swept up, and a cab ride back home with the bar manager.

Photobooks for sale: Ponderosa and Party People

I am planning to publish two books of my photos. This is something I’ve been thinking of for some time now, but I’m opening up my house and showing off my photos as part of Open Up Sheffield open studios event, and I want to have a few things available for sale.

I am going to use Photobox for the books – so they will not be of quite the kind of quality of a properly published and bound photobook, but from what I’ve seen they are pretty good for an off-the-shelf type product. I would like to do more than the standard 20 pages, but I really don’t think I can afford to at the moment.

The first book will feature images and text from my Ponderosa (traces of crime) project.

The second book will feature a selection of my as-yet un-named (suggestions welcome) project which I provisionally call Party People.

I have one small problem, which is the complete and utter lack of any funds, so I hope to be able to get a few pre-orders in to help pay for this. So… I am offering the book to any of my blog-readers at a special reduced rate of £24 per book (or approximate $/€ equivalent) – this should just about cover my costs including postage to you, but because there is a 2-for-1 offer on it means I get an additional book for each one ordered. I intend to sell the books for £35 at the open-studio event.

So… please email me or leave a comment here if you are interested in buying a copy.

I need to move quickly on this – I would like numbers confirmed by next week (22nd) and payment (Bank transfer or Paypal) by 25th.

Procissão de Todos os Santos 2006

It’s not often that I stumble upon a Flickr user’s stream who’s photos really grab me, and it’s even less often that I “favourite” one, let alone several, of another user’s photos, but Penoni‘s set Procissão de Todos os Santos 2006 is absolutely incredible! The combination of flash-light with Southern hemisphere twilight, and frozen stiltwalkers with blurred, zoomed and panned backgrounds, produces magical realism at its most lyrical and strange.