June 9, 2015 Events 0 Comments

Kicking the festival season off last weekend was the mighty Lemonfest! After a week-long break in Cornwall, what better way to finish the holiday than with an intimate gathering of lovely Westcountry folk, a small but perfectly formed eclectic line-up, and the best selection of ciders brewed in the heart of deepest but not-so-darkest Devon.

I have so much love for this festival, now in it’s 6th year. Partly because it’s on my home turf and a five minute drive from my mum’s house, but mainly because of the atmosphere. For a small independent event it pulls a lovely crowd. Even the kids are well-behaved – and there are a lot of kids. Having experienced the likes of Reading festival where large packs of 16-year olds seem to go mental in celebration of the end of their GCSE’s, we were initially slightly apprehensive upon first sight. But there was none of this; just a bill of excellent artists, easy-going attitudes, and heaps of character.

Festivals are my favourite type of event to photograph. It’s not just the music acts and creativity that makes them so fascinating to shoot, it’s also the people. People tend to really come out of their shells and remove all social expectations and limitations on who or what they think they should be. Not just in the way they dress, but in their general demeanor, and this is the good stuff when it comes to festival photography. Granted the Lemonfest crowd aren’t generally as experimental as say Secret Garden Party-goers, however I still managed to get some lovely shots encapsulating the spirit of the day and put my 24-105mm to good use. Below: Too Many T’s, Beans on Toast, Backbeat Soundsystem.

Boy painting girls face

Too Many T's

Beans On Toast

Lemonfest crowd in fancy dress Beans On Toast's barefeet

Barry from Dub Pistols enjoying Beans on Toast Backbeat Soundsystem Backbeat Soundsystem

The great thing about smaller festivals is that everything is within easy reach and they tend to be slightly more relaxed when it comes to rules. From a photography perspective, there was none of the usual policies dictating you need to arrive ten minutes before each set and only stay for the first three songs. Which was amazing! It meant I could come and go as I pleased, take my time, and stay for as long as I wanted. Still not wanting to take the pi*s however, I stayed long enough only to get the shots I wanted before moving on.

You always want to be seen as professional (sometimes challenging in festival environments), which includes abiding by any photography policies instilled by organisers. Another tip – always be conscious of other photographers in the pit with you! The number of times I’ve had less-experienced togs wandering infront of me without pausing to see what I’m doing… Always be courteous, even when there’s an epic moment happening on stage, and check what’s going on around you. It’s like an unwritten rule amongst togs, and in return you’ll get treated with the same respect. Below: Too Many T’s, 3 Daft Monkeys.

Too Many T's, Lemonfest

Pretty festival chick, Lemonfest

3 Daft Monkeys violinist Happy crowd shot, Lemonfest

3 Daft Monkeys drummer Festival chick with cool tattoo and funky hair

Weather-wise, the rain held off until about 7pm. Apparently the 5D MkIII is weatherproof, to what extent I have no clue and I’ve yet to test this claim – however it did seem to fare pretty well in the rain. Other than that, most of the day was dry with some cloud about, which I personally prefer over direct sunlight which can cause horrible shadows and severe contrast.

One thing I struggled with at Lemonfest was my lens. I’d stupidly forgotten we’d be going straight to the festival after Cornwall, and so left my 70-200mm at home meaning come nightfall my 24-105mm really struggled with fast-movement and low light. The Subways were a particular challenge; front girl Charlotte Cooper was a constant hurricane of head-banging hair and thrashing manoeuvres. Doing the best with what I had, I edged my ISO as far up as 5000 and notched my shutter up to 1/800. I read somewhere that a good way to gage how fast you need your shutter speed to be is to remember clapping in daylight requires about 1/1000 to capture movement without blur. However with my ISO already that high up, I couldn’t increase the shutter speed anymore.  The noise was still more prominent than I’d hoped but the results after some careful editing plus fiddling with luminance were just about acceptable, same goes for the Dub Pistols. Check out my snaps below (Subways then Dub Pistols), plus full album here on my Facebook page.

Lesson learned – sod the toothbrush, don’t forget your lens!

Charlotte Cooper, The Subways Drummer Josh Morgan, The Subways Charlotte Cooper and Billy Lunn, The Subways

Barry Ashworth, Dub Pistols Dub Pistols Barry Ashworth, Dub Pistols