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kyle cassidy

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louYou Got Me Singing - The Album Cover Photo: Behind the Scenes [Jul. 17th, 2016|04:38 pm]
kyle cassidy
[mood |accomplishedaccomplished]
[music |peter yates: soundtrack for a breakdown]

So ... a few months ago Amanda Palmer texted me & asked if I could do the album cover for a new album of covers she was doing with her dad, Jack. She wanted it (for complex reasons) to look like this Bob Dylan album cover:

And, (for complex reasons) we had access to the actual set from that photo shoot. Including a lot of the props. I spent a lot of time in the days before studying the original photo and trying to deconstruct how it was done. But when we got there, Neil had done a lot of research already about the type of camera and the light effects and had compiled stories from many of the people who were there on the set. It really was remarkable. I had initially thought that the blurry circle was added as a second exposure, something that Neil agreed with but in an interview the photographer denied. After spending a lot of time with it, I think it actually was a single, long exposure with the camera rotated during it. Camera starts at 10:00, shutter opens, camera rotation begins, when camera gets to 10:30 flash is fired, camera keeps rotating until it's at the 11:00 position and the shutter closes. Most of my evidence from this is from the lit candle in the upper left and the lamp shade right under it.

In any event. I did mine in two exposures because it was easier that way.

You Got Me Singing album cover. Bob Dylan was once right in this spot.
You may clickenzee to EmPalmerize

It's a bit maddening how difficult it is to get all the right angles and placement when you have the original right there in front of you. trillian_stars doubted my placement of the chaise lounge and in retrospect she was correct.

I lit it with one light behind an umbrella off to the side.

It took about 30 minutes of shooting to redo the cover photo and after that we did some publicity shots and played with the baby. (Trillian played with the baby, I just waved at him mostly. He smiled. Ash is a happy baby.) (Here's one of the publicity shots in a video for one of the songs.)

Outtake from publicity photos. I think this one got nixed for being "too arty".
But you may Clickenzee to EmArten.

Amanda, Trillian, Jack and Me. Jack is actually a stupendously charming guy. He's one of those people you meet and you're like instant friend. I hadn't met him before, though over the past 15 years or whatnot I've met Amanda's sister and her mother. Amanda spent about 40 minutes explaining her family tree, which is convoluted and I'm still not sure how anyone is related to one another, but Jack is a great guy and during some of the publicity photo shoots he sang and played guitar and I got goosebumps. So, there's that.

Setting up the scene you can see my high tech lighting system here -- on small shoot thru umbrella with a voice activated light stand. It was pretty simple. I used a 28mm lens and a Leica M9, triggered with Pocket Wizards. I'm trying to do everything with the Leica now because it's just so much smaller than the Nikon and I find myself thinking "what on earth am I going to do with a 36 megapixel file?" You can see that pile of things on the chez that Amanda picked out as being important. They range from magazines to influential records to a dalek. (Is dalek capitalized? You would't capitalize "lion" but you would "Parisian"... Ellen Datlow would know.) The 28mm was just barely wide enough to get the shot that I needed, and I ran out of room, I had to press the camera on the back wall -- I couldn't look through the viewfinder or put it on a tripod. I was actually facing the wall, holding the camera up against it, trying not to get my shoulder in the shot (it was in a bunch of them) while Neil helped to make Ash smile -- not that he's not always smiling. So we banged away at it for a while and it was done and we opened a bottle of wine. Like you do.

If you know me at all, you know that my favorite band ever was the 80's Goth Rock juggernaut The Fields of the Nephilim -- a few months before their guitar player, Peter Yates had posted a blog about how their record company had screwed them out of their profits. I sent it to Amanda, she reposted it because she knows that Sh!t is Real and Amanda & Peter met because of it and ... hopefully they're working on a collaboration now -- this might be my greatest contribution to the history of humanity. Here are Amanda & I talking about musicians, record companies, and how you stay relevant (along with a copy of Elizium, which is my favorite FOTN album. (You can buy a copy of it here.))

I discovered the Fields of the Nephilim while working in a bookstore and flipping through a book called "1000 record reviews". And the author gave the FOTN album an F- with the review "This album is only good in a black world where David Bowie is God." And I made a puzzled face thinking well ... he is, isn't he? & bought the album & never looked back. Finding good music isn't just looking for music that the right people like, it's also sometimes finding music that the wrong people hate.

Before we left Neil helped me out with a Top Sekrit Projekt, here at this restaurant. I'm continually amazed at what a nice person he is. Even with walls of deadlines, he'll lend his voice and his talent and his sphere of influence when he really doesn't need to but he does it because he's a genuinely kind person. If I'm ever about to post something snarky on the Internet I try and take step back, breathe for a second and ask myself "Would Neil Gaiman post this?" -- most of the time the answer is "no" and I delete whatever stinging criticism I had penned.

The Top Sekrit Projket thing becomes un-top-sekrit in January or February, something like that. I'll let you know when the world is supposed to know.

Trillian Stars returning from breakfast with a wandering writer who
was always lurking about the place committing acts of kindness.
You may clickenzee to Emawesome.

So we finished the album cover, we finished the publicity shots, we finished the Top Sekrit Projekt, I met the baby that I'd known as a bump, created from two people I'd watched meet and fall in love and get married, I met the singer without whom none of this would happen, I saw gigantic wild turkeys walking around like lazy squirrels, I went for a run along roads that Bob Dylan had driven his motorcycle, I deconstructed a photograph, learned about history ... I took a long ride on a train with Trillian Stars, I slept in a tiny room made by elves from a hollowed out tree, I ran in the forest, I searched for Drow ... I tried out a steam shower which is a truly terrifying thing, it's like a shower, but you're also blind at the same time.

And on the train on the way home I got what might be the most surreal, weird & wonderful text message of my life.

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[User Picture]From: mizkit
2016-07-17 09:14 pm (UTC)
I realize this is probably not supposed to be the take-away here, but: I genuinely had no idea AFP actually had eyebrows. I thought her whirly swirly tattoo-style ones WERE tattoos and she'd had the originals lasered off or something. I'll be darned. :)

I love the arty photo. It's gorgeous.
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[User Picture]From: kylecassidy
2016-07-18 01:06 pm (UTC)
I think it was day 3 when we were having breakfast and I said "Sweet barking cheese, you have eyebrows!" -- she said she didn't want to look unpredictable for the baby. She used to just draw them on with eyeliner.
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[User Picture]From: deililly
2016-07-17 11:32 pm (UTC)
This whole entry was just a lovely uplifting thing in what has been a difficult month. Thank you Kyle :)

Everyone who knows Neil has a story of him being kind I notice. I am a ways off that but I do try. What would Neil Gaiman do is a good question to keep asking. Will have to try it.
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[User Picture]From: MaryGaughan
2016-07-18 02:44 am (UTC)
Thanks for sharing. What an amazing opportunity to recreate an icon. Ash does a very good job playing a cat. I love the shot of Amanda with her hair down even if it is "arty".
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[User Picture]From: ladyblue56
2016-07-18 03:32 am (UTC)
"...I took a long ride on a train with Trillian Stars, I slept in a tiny room made by elves from a hollowed out tree..."

Surreal weekend but beautiful photos and recreation using the same spot as Dylan for the cover. I'd love to see more of the house too, seems an exceptional place w. a rich and vivid history.

Ash is a happy baby, Amanda is radiant, and Neil looks quite healthy and content. What a treat to see a peek into their lives and see the joy. Thank you. I know some ppl who are not ... pleased w. Neil's marriage to Amanda (although I don't understand why they feel that way personally) but really, he seems happy and productive and the baby Ash - what a blessing.
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[User Picture]From: morbid_curious
2016-07-18 07:09 am (UTC)
I love how much in the way of love and joy and little wonders this post and these photos encompass And now I'm going to listen to Elizium again.
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[User Picture]From: amichaelberman
2016-07-18 04:00 pm (UTC)

Dylan covers

Awesome photo & story Kyle.

Please recreate The Freewheeling Bob Dylan with you and Trillian on the streets of Philadelphia...
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[User Picture]From: kylecassidy
2016-07-19 01:19 am (UTC)

Re: Also...

they have a video collection of everything which is great.
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[User Picture]From: humglum
2016-07-18 05:24 pm (UTC)

I can see how that review of Fields of the Nephilim would get you interested. I certainly would have hopped up and found their music immediately.

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[User Picture]From: inkista_
2016-07-18 06:26 pm (UTC)
That is so teh Awesome. Thanks for writing all that down, and most especially for all the photo-geekitude techno bits, because some of us are silly enough to love that stuff and eat it up with a spoon. I also think you are right about how the circle was done, and sooo right to do it as two shots instead. First Guy can stride out fearlessly, but much harder to be as carefree when you gotta place your feet in their footprints. Yayz the Leica lightness! Being but a hobbyist, I have gone X100T for similar reasons (plus y'know, 1/1000s sync speed). I'll even be brave and shoot JPEGs with it on occasion, because if I had all that extra raw data, I'd just screw around with it instead of making pictures. :D
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From: kathm14
2016-07-18 09:36 pm (UTC)
You have one of the most interesting lives ever.
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[User Picture]From: kylecassidy
2016-07-19 01:19 am (UTC)
Yeah. It seems so. Thankfully not interesting enough to get out of control.
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[User Picture]From: linz_lou
2016-07-18 11:31 pm (UTC)
Lovely post! Thanks for sharing. :)
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[User Picture]From: lawbabeak
2016-07-19 01:14 am (UTC)
What's the dark album with the music on it? Philadelphia Chicken?

Awesome job. Awesome collaboration. And good sleuthing.
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[User Picture]From: adelheid_p
2016-07-19 01:59 am (UTC)
I also was in the "Wow, Amanda Palmer with eyebrows!" camp. And that arty photo of her is awesome --I think it conveys a vulnerability that we don't often see in her --she seems to be such a strong woman. I can't believe it was an outtake.
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[User Picture]From: kylecassidy
2016-07-19 06:02 pm (UTC)
There are some extra arty ones that were outtakes too, This ain't nothing on the artyness!
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