Wednesday 24 November 2010

Made by McCoy

Well, I got part way in setting up the new blog... When I get some free time, my plan still stands to produce new themes for both. For now, enjoy the awful templates currently used.

In the meanwhile, have a look at some of the fun things I'm currently working on: Made by McCoy

Friday 19 November 2010

Wilful Neglect

Been a good few weeks since I last wrote an entry; bad me, bad me!

I've been incredibly busy, and still without a functional studio to shoot from, but it's on the way! I'm also planning to call it something highly pretentious like the "Idea Lab". That way, I can get away with using it for my weirdo high-tech projects as well... And make it look like a lab out of Iron Man.

I'm also in the process of setting up a parallel blog, somewhere to rant nauseatingly about technological things (mostly stuff I make and break). It'll be entitled "Made by McCoy"... Get it? Shot By McCoy... Made By McCoy... Well, screw you, I think it makes sense.

One day I'll actually create sites and blog templates for both, but until hell freezes over (I'm reckoning about January), this'll just have to do.

Stay tuned.

Monday 20 September 2010

First sneak peak...

First image from my recent fortnight of creative shoots. This image features beautiful jewellery work by

Sunday 12 September 2010

Old Studio Closes & Flunky Models

Well, as of about an hour ago, the old studio is officially closed as the last prop and piece of rigging is moved out. Just a few dustballs left rolling around the floor...

The new studio will open in 6 to 8 weeks, with our first big shoots already being planned for November (stay tuned for more on those).

The last fortnight was supposed to have been wall-to-wall creative shoots; and instead was a fortnight that's involved more rescheduling and bullshit excuses than could ever be imagined. When you get contacted by models, who tell you how much they want to work with you, and want the opportunity to shoot, then you'd think they'd make an effort when the shoot is planned and prep'd over two weeks prior to actually turn up.

Today's cancellation really pissed me off. After a two week long exchange of messages, not only did the model today not bother to turn up, but she had the audacity to give me a bullshit excuse, and actually block me on Model Mayhem. WTF?

Friday 3 September 2010


This week has just disappeared... Lots of shoots booked, lots of cancellations, lots of rescheduling, lots of re-bookings... Not sure how, but I'm shooting with the models booked, but not on the original days booked, and I'm shooting on just the days I originally booked on.

Shattered nonetheless, and have hundreds of images to pick, polish and publish - must stay awake and get a few done...

On a side note, I have FINALLY received the Polaroid film I ordered a month ago. I was hoping it would arrive for Wednesday's shoot, as it would have been a great trial - I'll just have to wait a bit longer to try it.

Right, I've got images to sort out.

Sunday 29 August 2010

Busy! Busy! Busy!

To most, a bank holiday is an extra long weekend, a chance to get away and have a short break (normally shorter than intended, thanks to the ultra-heavy caravan laden traffic jams). To us however, they mean an extra day of, um, work.

This weekend, I'm building a website today, we've sold stuff at a craft fair yesterday, I've got a creative shoot tomorrow (now postponed due to model illness), I'm also planning for a week of solid creative shoots (ranging from the simple to the downright bizarre and outrageous)...

The site I'm working on is into it's third complete redesign, and as with all design projects, most of the project will be completed in literally two days, with the other countless days and weeks being creative blocks and misdemeanours.

I'm not saying that projects are padded out, but quite the opposite, that often there isn't enough time for them. A big proportion of a design project is ruling out the wrong things, the bad design elements and the truly horrific concepts. Once the perfect design is hit upon, the sheer adrenaline rush is enough to have a massive proportion of the project sewn together in days.

If a project is dragging, then frankly, that's the sign you're doing it wrong. A good design should inspire it's designer to finish it. If it stalls, trash it and move onto the next idea. You know when you've hit upon the right design, it's the one that makes you feel giddy and excited - not the countless ones that make you feel a little uneasy, disappointed and make you overly interested in any subject matter other than that in hand.

I had the excited feeling this morning (it happened last night, but frankly I was too shattered, and just sat starring at my screen for too long), so today I'm scribbling notes, strange looking diagrams... And actually making inroads...

A little trick I found to keep things going smoothly, I let my attention wander every now and then - I indulge a little refresh for 10 or 15 minutes - then slip straight back into the work solidly. I find I'm exponentially more productive doing this, and can work for 10, 20, 30 hours straight then, versus just a few hours solid.

Anyway, I'm reaching the end of this little wandering indulgence, and need to get some done!

Thursday 26 August 2010

Parisian Alley Whores

From the archives, a foray into the decadence and depravity of 19th Century Parisian alley whores...

Shoot! Shoot! Shoot!

Only a few weeks before we move studios now. Because we've got a month or so gap in studio space from the transition, I'm setting up lots and lots of creative shoots for the next fortnight.

We'll be shooting nail art, jewellery, avant garde, alternative, burlesque, fashion...

This fortnight is going to be fun!

Now I just need to start putting all my ideas onto paper, and plan all these shoots...

Monday 23 August 2010

Back from Holiday

Excuse the tardiness of my post, but I've been enjoying eight days of technology-free relaxation in Lithuania with the lovely Ms. R.

Though I didn't take anything more than a palm-sized digital HD camera, and even took incredibly few photos myself (though I do appear in copious numbers of pictures from the trip), it did feel like I was constantly scouting for locations. And hell, have I found a lot.

Not sure where I should start... The food? The beer? The awesome landscape? The armies of 6ft skinny people...

Fried Lithuanian dark bread with garlic, mayonnaise and cheese.
Unsurprisingly, even with all the food, I'm feeling a bit slimmer. Gotta be all the walking and the beer.

Friday 13 August 2010

New Studio...

Some big changes coming, as we re-plan our studio facilities...

While compact, our existing studio (about 5.5m by 4.5m), coupled with an additional space we hijack above the studio we use for prep/food/changing/makeup is a great size for most shoots, but can be a little impractical in places.

So now we have plans afoot to move our studio to a bigger space (about 5.5m by 10m), that coupled with a massive bathroom will give us something even more flexible. There's a lot more natural light as well for high light-temp shoots (still need blackouts for lower light-temp shoots, though we can always use a stack of gels).

Being in the same type of building they both have really high ceilings (circa 3.5m), and good solid walls to bolt stuff too...

Another upside, is having more space to store props and wardrobe, an integral food prep area that is not in the way, plenty of space for more workstations, more storage racks and perhaps a space for a sofa and coffee table...

The major downside of course, is having to actually move stuff...

Thursday 12 August 2010

Robotics for Beginners

I want to build a robot. But not a little toy robot that follows white lines, tumbles over or has stickers for facial features.

No, I want to build a "proper" robot. The kind that you remotely drive into theatres of war, the kind for which the term "payload" doesn't mean it's own AA batteries, and the kind that has HD imaging and rigging for "optional accessories."

I must be bored/frustrated.

Monday 9 August 2010

Orange RockCorp

On Saturday we volunteered for the Orange RockCorp project at Valentines Park in Ilford, East London.

The 45 or so of us, were split into four groups, our group tasked with clearing a concrete-lined brook. Naturally our side of the brook did the best job, and finished first - now that's team work. I tidied, lopped branches, shovelled crap while Ms. R's sister swept and her boyfriend scraped every last bit of moss off the sides. Ms. R was the real star, zooming ahead scraping weeds and moss out of the cracks and seams in the concrete - she was just a little dot on the horizon.

We got food, drinks and tickets to a concert in the Royal Albert Hall, in return for 4 hours of our hard work. The concert looks awful, but it's free, so what the hell. On the upside, I got interviewed for the Orange website with Ms. R's sister, in the unlikely event we don't get edited out, I'll post the link.

Edit: No video yet, but we've been posted on their Flickr Gallery.

Having driven for two hours to get there, we were both shattered, and promptly slept all of Sunday - a good day's hard work I think.

Sunday 8 August 2010

Exploring New Grounds

Another Sunday, and another car-boot sale! This time we went a little further afield, and found a new one held in a big, well, a big field.

Quite different to our usual haunt, with a quite a few nice little finds...

First I succumbed to an 8mm Cine camera. I have no idea if I can get film for it, but I spotted one a week or so ago, and got the crazy idea to shoot some 8mm film. I'm still waiting to receive the first pack of Polaroids, so I've got a back log already.

I've got a new engineering project, in the form of a vintage industrial Singer sewing machine in need of TLC. Not powered it up yet, but from first glance it's just the drive belt that needs replacing - the thick layers of gunge around a few moving parts leads me to think it needs a complete overhaul either way.

Ms. R spotted a lovely little Ilford Sportsman camera - I'm not sure yet if it's a 35mm or 120, probably should check! Having processed the first film from the Koroll, we were a little miffed by how badly underexposed they were. We used a new company for the processing, but I suspect it's the camera rather than the chemistry. I might also point blame at the age of the film roll - we'll give it another go with a fresh roll of Fuji, and see if that works. The Sportsman looks like a real winner, so we'll try and shoot something ASAP with it.

Photos of the new goodies to come soon...

Tuesday 3 August 2010

Technology Porn

If your wife or partner frowns, mutters or gets a little more than angry when you bring a new project home, find something on eBay you *have to have* or when your copy of Wired arrives (whooot), then you might want to have a browser window with hardcore porn ready to flip to when she looks over.

So, fancy building your own UAV?

Oh hell, yeah!

I've just found a whole host of websites and resources for building your own UAV (unmanned aerial vehicle), complete with Open Source autopilot and GPS waypoint navigation boards. There's a site and community dedicated to it:

I keep wandering in and out of projects, I suppose it's mood and stresses that dictate what projects I get involved in or let fall to the wayside. Sometimes it takes weeks to get back into a project, other times it takes years - but I always get back to them eventually.

At the moment I've got a handful of projects on the roster, though sitting here, I find it hard to even name one. But where would the fun be if I didn't try...

So let's list a few things I've got on the go:

  • Generic Electronics Hackery (I swear the TV was like that when I found it...)
  • Building of Lots of Concept Websites (none of which will ever actually go live)
  • Building of Actual Websites (to be finished by the middle of the month)
  • My Blog (hopefully I'll stick with it)
  • R/C Cars (Ms. R likes to drive powerslide these as much as I do)
  • Conceptual Photography (everything from Polaroids to weird and wonderful ideas)
  • Model Making (I think it was the film Moon that got me hooked on practical SFX)
This list goes on, but I think this covers the last few months.

I've got a couple of mini-work projects on the go as well, so my time is quite heavily filled, though I feel like I achieve very little. Go figure.

Need to pull a few network cables through the house as well, so I'll add that to the project list. The wireless mesh just isn't cutting it.

This is starting to sound like a To Do list. Hmmm...

Monday 2 August 2010

Need Inspiration?

Have a few minutes (or hours) to spare? Then have a peek at these sites:

  1. - proving that polaroids will never fade away...
  2. - find a little inspiration, shot from the hip...
  3. - an endless sourcebook, and great way to waste an afternoon...
  4. - another endless sourcebook, for fashion inspiration...
  5. - and to finish, a lovely fashion/photography blog...

Sunday 1 August 2010

Polaroid 636 Closeup Camera

It's Sunday, so it's car-boot day...

On the lookout for generic crap, I spotted a mint condition Polaroid, still boxed with manual. No film cartridge, so I'll have to find suitable film, but for the pittance I paid I got a real bargain. Frankly, I think the guy would have been happy if I just walked away without paying - he just wanted to get rid of it (probably would have binned it on his return home).

It's a closeup camera, with a focus from 0.6m to infinity... Should be much fun! I've sourced and ordered some 669 film for the Land camera, and I'm itching to try that one out. I'll do some research and find some film for this one as well. I'm detecting a little pattern occurring here.

We found some expired Fuji 120 film in the cupboard, so we had a play with Ms. R's new camera this evening. We've snapped the whole role, so we'll get it processed ASAP, and get the frames scanned. I also found a roll of B&W left in my C220 and promptly finished it off, so that'll go off for processing too, and will hopefully yield some results.

Thursday 29 July 2010

Midnight Ball Editorial

Midnight Ball Editorial, originally uploaded by Shot by McCoy.
Another redux. This editorial piece is from a year or two back for the fashion brand Kisami...

I'm rather proud of the fact we had to do minimal post-production on this (just the usual skin fixes). Though that's credit to us spending hours tweaking the lighting, melting candles and setting reflectors ablaze...

Wednesday 28 July 2010

Sony UC20 & Mamiya C220

This blog is starting to sound like a camera directory. I swear it's not. I like cameras, but I'm not a purist camera nut, or an over-the-top collector.

What I love, is a camera that feels like it has as much to say about how the image will look, as the photographer or the subject matter does. Very few cameras inspire you, or make you feel like you're going to capture a once-in-a-lifetime moment every time you depress the shutter.

I remember a tiny Sony digital camera I had years back (I actually found it while moving a while back, but it's in need of a bit of TLC to get it working again), that was exactly this kind of camera. It rarely fired when the button was depressed, and it's auto-focus took a lifetime to work, but it was so small, that every shot was literally "shot from the hip" (and it predated Lomo).

For a tiny camera it packed a powerful flash - not enough to burn images, but enough to get some really good lighting. The images always looked better in grayscale, though the colours were always deep and rich. And hell, was it a handy camera.

Must make a mental note to dig out my memorysticks, and have a look inside that little camera. I think just the LCD display has failed, but not sure if it's the display, the backlight or what...

Another camera I treasure, is my first medium format camera, the Mamiya C220 - a twin lens reflex camera that introduces the added twist of parallax distortion. Having two lenses stacked, the top lens is used for focusing, and the lower lens used for imaging. With a bellows focus, and a vertical film roll, and a heavenly shutter "clunk" - it's such a wonderful camera to use.

It's the only camera I have, with which I like at least 80% of the images it produces. The first time I used it with a model, I shot two rolls of colour (24 shots), and every image made it to the final set. The digital images from the shoot had a 20% pass rate. They're not bad images, frankly I just took too many. Having only two rolls of film to hand, I wanted every shot to be perfect.

Bencini Koroll 24-S

On the hunt for film for Ms. R's new camera, we've found it's a medium format camera, but with a half-frame mask (3cm x 4.5cm) allowing for 24 shots on a 120 film roll. Either way, we can get a plentiful supply of 120 film, can get it processed and can then scan it on our wet scanner.

Made in Milan in the 1950's, it's got about three moving parts; shutter actuator, f9/f16 aperture slider and a really odd looking swinging bit of metal that supposedly controls the shutter speed (for either 1/50 or "B"). It's got a winder as well, so that's four moving parts then...

Everybody we've found online that's used one mentions the focus is stuck in a single position. My theory is that the focus dial is fake, and actually glued on. Crappy Italian manufacturing would explain why they're all stuck in different positions (while the focal length remains the same). Love Italian design. Hate Italian manufacturing.

Looking on the inside, the aperture control is hilarious - it just swings a piece of clear plastic with a horizontal slot through it; basically it crops the top and bottom of the fixed aperture.

And that is exactly why it's such a charming camera. We can't wait to try our new spoils, and to discover the defects, dust marks, blurs and effects light leakage will cause.

Oh, and it's shiny. Really shiny.

Tuesday 27 July 2010

Polaroid Land Camera

Every Sunday we seem to naturally wake incredibly early now, giving us chance to hit our little haunt; the local car boot sale... We seem to alternate as to who's day it is - this week it was definitely mine. Last week it was neither of our days - we failed to find any gems, and just bought a load of plants for the front garden. And got a little sunburnt.

I have to give all credit to Ms. R for finding this little beauty, I had been a little preoccupied by vintage Scalextric to notice it at first. The camera is nearly mint - complete with manual, fresh pack of film and two packs of flash bulbs. A couple of dints, and a little chemical frosting from the old Polaroid packs, but otherwise in fantastic condition.

I've not had much of a play with it yet, but I'm already loving the twin "Focus" and "Frame" view finders... The former allows you to focus using superimposed images, and the latter gives you a frame to work with. The film sounds a little dusty, well, it sounds like a box of sand. It does seem though that Fuji make a compatible peel-back film, some more research needed.

She also found a really cute retro 50's/60's camera for herself - virtually no mechanics to it, looking inside it, the thing has about three moving parts. We can't wait to load them both (or rather, wedge whatever fits into them) with film, and start shooting.

Much light leakage and skewed framing to come...


CagedBird 2009 Collection
A little blast from last summer, and a fashion shoot in a dark basement... With a little peek behind the scenes...

Monday 26 July 2010

Day Zero


At the behest of my partner, the darling Ms. R, I'm going to stop annoying her with my popular-media directed rants, and instead mould that clay-like ball of hate into something creative. (Frankly, I'm just going to be directing it at the world at large.)

Here we all are now. So, let's begin...

In short; I shoot models and random objects. With a camera. A big camera.

In a few more words; I shoot fashion, conceptual, avante garde and editorial photography. With a massive bloody camera.

And that people, is the first and most difficult blog out of the way. Let the good times role on.