Friday, June 26, 2009

Eric Clapton and Steve Winwood @ Arena

Just got back from shooting Eric Clapton and Steve Winwood. I wish I could say, "Holy crap, what a totally awesome and amazing show!"... but something I always forget to mention on this blog is the trouble you can run into being a photographer. At most shows, you are given a set of restrictions; only shoot the first three songs... only shoot from one side of the stage or the other... don't shoot Don Henley while he is walking on to the stage. That sort of thing. And sometimes we have to shoot from the back of the house at arena.

For this show, that means shooting from beside the soundboard. Three-quarters of the way back on the floor, behind a crowd of people. So we need to bring a "long lens"... meaning, it zooms in really far. In this case, I used a 100-400mm lens. Even tho that is a rediculous zoom, its still not quite long enough to get in close. Which is what the performers generally like. Dont show the age and wrinkles and all that. But who really cares right? Its ERIC CLAPTON! (Below was my view at the start of the show)

So the photos aren't what they could have been. And I believe its slightly to the detriment of the performer... since the press doesn't look great because of it. Not that I think Mr. Clapton needs to worry about press. But still.

The other thing that I rarely mention... is my answer to "So, how was the show?" Generally, I'm so caught up with 'getting the shot', that I cant pay attention to the music. However, I will say at this show, I DID notice that Steve Winwood can seriously jam on the guitar! He had the chops to keep up with Clapton, and thats saying something. Clapton would smile every time Winwood would get complex or fast. That was pretty cool. And like I almost always usually say, I wish I could have watched more. Having lost a music legend this week, I would have liked to say I watched an entire Eric Clapton concert in person. 

On a lighter note, what's the deal with this press pass? Could we not spend a few dollars on design? :)

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Robot Tank @ Martini Ranch

Last night I hung out with Smokescreen drummer Jeff Kritzstein, while he rocked out with his other band, Robot Tank. The Martini Ranch is a nice small venue. They have lights and very decent sound. Every time I go there, its always enjoyable. This time was no different.

The band put on a great show. The set was upbeat and moved fast. A lot people really enjoyed the rock sound they brought. It was actually dragging people out of the smoking area inside to listen. The underage kids were dancing. It was a good time. Jeff's drum kit was adorned with the bands' low-fi logo of a tank. I like seeing that sort of branding. I see the bass drum as a huge slab of advertising real estate, why not use it?

There is another blog posting about them deeper down in the list. The last time I shot them, I think the room was lit with a 40-watt house light bulb. This time tho, I got to chat with the lighting guy at the Martini Ranch. They do have some nice lights, and I wanted to make sure at least some of them were on while I was shooting. Towards the end of the set, the light guy was in sync with me, and he would change the lights around the band mate I was focusing on. Boy, what a nice change.

There was quite a bit of back lighting for a lot of the set, which makes it hard to get facial features, but the lights changed enough to work around it. And it does make for some nice silhouette lines. I was at pretty high ISOs throughout the set, as high as 1600. But at some points, like when the spot light went on, I could drop down to ISO400 with my f4.0 lens, and still get some nice exposure.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Loretta Lynn @ Celebrity Theatre

This was a classic country show. All the banter and comedy of the old country concerts you remember from your childhood. It was a change of pace for me. This was a very carefully planned show, all the musicians were perfectly on time and in key. Songs started with very minimal pauses, jest enough time in between for some jokes and patter with the audience. 

Loretta is a country icon. She is the Coal Miners Daughter. The crowd was super receptive and appreciative to her presence, while at the same time, very respectful. Loretta was joined by her son and one of her daughters. Each got to sing a number of songs at the start of the show... then worked as back up in the band. When Loretta walked on to the stage, after waiting for the moving stage to rotate to her position, the crowd stood up and gave her a warm welcome.

She was sodding entertaining and surprisingly on key. Loretta would hold the microphone by the small end, and when she would sing a higher or louder note, she would sort of "flick" the mic away from her face, rather than the 'traditional' tilt your head back or pull the mic away. Just an interesting note. While she was very comedic and entertaining, she tended to stay in one place. This gave me an opportunity to set up my camera for an HDR pic. See below for a 'before and after' comparison. 

Shooting at the Celebrity Theatre is always interesting. The use of spot lights always make for semi-uninteresting photos. Since the spot really drowns everything else out. But I managed to play with the shutter speeds and get some interesting shots. I also got to shoot from the small balcony above the ramp onto the stage, so I got a neat perspective. 

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Yeah Yeah Yeahs @ Marquee Theatre

The Yeah Yeah Yeahs. Or, just "Yeah Yeah Yeahs". They are a band that I think I could get into if I took the time. But I haven't been AS impressed as I thought I'd be seeing them live, twice now. I shot them at Coachella and thought they were ok. But I wasn't blown away. Even with the guitar player having tons of pedals.

All that aside, they pleased the crowd. The Marquee was sold out. People were happy to be there. Everyone seemed to get along with each other. It was a calm night for music. One of the opening acts, "All Weather", pretty much spoiled the mood. Their obnoxious noise-scream rock got pretty annoying by the second song. It drove half the sold out crowd outside. The lobby area was so full there was literally no where to stand and just get away from the music, and the smoking area was packed.

When the Yeah Yeah Yeahs came on, everyone was inside. Lead singer Karen O always seems happy to be on stage. She had foot operated confetti machines scattered around the floor for her to step on anytime she wanted to give the crowd a boost. Thousands of red foil "Ys" shot out all over the place. It was a fun simple touch. Their massive eye ball back drop that looked tiny at Coachella filled in the room at the Marquee nicely.

Shooting wise, well, its the Marquee. I say that pretty much every time. Keep all the dials maxed out, and pray you can get the shot. There were occasional glints of light to shoot in. But you had to be on your mark.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Photo in Spin Magazine **False alarm**

**OK, I posted this yesterday and have to revise it. I went to pick up a hard copy of the mag, and my photos aren't in it. ONLY in the online copy. :( **

Covering the Coachella Festival for was one of my favorite assignments ever. Lots of cool bands and fun experiences. Today I found out that one of my photos from that weekend got published in the magazine! (I did not shoot the cover) I haven't even seen it yet in person, but it appears to be a full 2-page large color photo. It's a photo of The Cure. Really, just the guitarist, and huge plume of smoke. But it was neat. Here it is, courtesy of

I didn't get a lot of time for any sort of touch up on the Coachella photos. It was all in the moment, a rush to upload content on line... not a lot of time for any editing. That said, had I known the photo was going to show up in the mag, I would have spent some time cleaning it up. But what can you do? Its in there. My name is on it. (And actually also on a photo of Leonard Cohen... which I did not take.)