Thursday, February 25, 2010

Bon Jovi @ Arena

A foreword to any Bon Jovi fans, the following comments are made from the view of a photographer, only based on the first 2 songs. I was actually fairly excited to shoot this show, because I knew it would be big. It was at arena... one of the 3 biggest venues in Phoenix... and it was Bon Jovi. Sadly, all that could have been, was not... at least in the first 2 songs.

The stage was proper rock show big. Lots of lights dangling in the air... a circular catwalk out in front... and 2 sets of organs (?). When the show started, I kept my wide lens on, thinking it would be a crazy showing of lights to get the crowd in a roar... but really it was just some white spots. The lighting for the entire first song was pretty uneventful. Just white light, with the occasional color throw in. The second song wasn't much different... except they turned on some video screens... which, the center screen was too high up to feel like a cohesive part of the set... and the lower screen wrapped around the bottom of the stage, behind all the gear. I realize I'm being overly critical here... I'm just trying to paint a picture.

There was no great spectacle in the opening... the band didn’t use the cat walk yet... so there were no opportunities for neat shots of Jon and Richie interacting with the crowd... and none of that "closeness" you can get with other big shows, because the photogs were positioned just in front of the catwalk. It was just sort of awkward.

So that's the bad... the good is that the white light was good light. Good for photos. The band sounded good, and for the most part, looked good too. There just wasn't a whole lot going on up on the stage. No ridiculous amounts of gear, or interesting backdrops. But if you're a fan, that probably didn't matter. All in all, it was an ok show. And before you even think it... I'm sure it got better as it went on. I just don't know why bands choose to leave the photographers out of the cool parts of the show... I mean, we're there to promote them! :)

Dashboard Confessional opened the show. It was fairly obvious tho, that this was a strictly Bon Jovi crowd. They didn't do down terribly or anything, it just didn't quite work as well as it could have. But they gave me some cool photos.

Oh... and one obligatory backstage photo. Enjoy.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Mariah Carey @ Dodge Theatre

She came down on a swing. She sang. I photographed her from the sound board. And after 2 songs, I was shown the way out.

Sorry for the uneventful post. Nothing really exciting happened at this show. Dim lights on the band, and a spotlight on Mariah. Photo restrictions and no ability to use the photos for anything other than personal use. On a side note, it did sound like she was actually singing live. So. Good on her.

Story Of The Year @ ASU

Done as sort of a last minute, thrown together quickly, almost didn't happen sort of deal, I worked with my brother Gus on a pre-show acoustic performance by the band Story Of The Year. The band was performing Friday night at the Devilpalooza show on the Arizona State University, and are promoting their brand new album, "The Constant".

Until we literally showed up with our gear, we didn't know if the thing would happen. We couldn't secure a location, the band wasn't sure they'd have the time to do it, and we didn't have anytime to plan anything. In the mix, I forgot my tripod, so my footage is all handheld. Not terrible, not great. Our good friend John Clay helped us out by working the soundboard, but not before his truck snapped a ball joint, and curled his front tire underneath itself. It was one of those days. John's theory was the curse of Biggie Smalls out to get him... having just listened to his entire discography before breakdown.

Click on here or on the title to watch in HD.

Once we were set up, things went ok. Gus shot on the RED One camera, and I shot on my trusty 5D MkII. We threw down 2 shure 57's and used a Shure 58 to mic the vocals. We also had a shotgun mic on a boom set to catch the ambient room noise and backing vocals. Which worked nicely.

Full story on the New Times page here.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Zack Holwerda

My brother Zack is a professional bull rider and fisherman... and this weekend we put together some photos of him for promotional and sponsorship purposes. This gave me the opportunity to get out my strobes once again and do some experimenting.

The first thing we did was the very clean and surgical looking promo shots on a white background. Which basically, just requires a lot of purposefully placed light.

Second, was a technique I've wanted to play with... using a flash in the day light. I wanted to get the blue sky in the background, and still have Zack lit... but not by the harsh sunlight. We used a white coated umbrella for this. I warmed it up a bit in Photoshop. (The photo above was to accentuate the watch)

The last photo is just to exhibit how ridiculously sharp this Canon 5D MkII can be in the right circumstances. Things like this make me happy I have this camera. This photo is a crop of one of the photos above. Amazing. To me anyways.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

George Strait and Reba @ US Airways Center

I wasn't sure if I'd be posting this blog... I got a rider from Reba and Strait's people saying they need to personally approve all photos before they are used. Luckily, the New Times took care of that for me and my photos were approved. Yay! Really, I just like to post blog's to keep my body of work moving... it reminds me of what I've done, or prompts me to do more. Moving on...

This show was in the round... er... in the 'square'... which made things interesting. Especially since the photogs were positioned behind the band. All the equipment was facing the other direction, and most peoples backs were to us. The stage did not rotate, and neither were we allowed to wonder very far around it. The night opened with Lee Ann Womack. Not knowing what to expect, and only having 2 songs to shoot, I put my 17-40mm on my 5D MkII, and my 100-400mm on my 20D. Lee Ann took the stage and basically did laps around the outside. Her first 2 songs went quick and I was only able to snap a couple 'keepable' photos.

Reba was up next, and our press contact had warned us we would be shooting from the sound board for her set. This is something that surprises a lot of people when I tell them about this sort of restriction... and while I can almost understand the reasoning behind it... it is always to the detriment of the photos. While being that far away CAN hide a few wrinkles... photographers have very powerful lenses and can overcome the distance. What long lenses CAN'T overcome is the dull mediocrity of a boring photo. When your subject is so far away, there are no angles to change, you get what you get. Also, at concerts, lights are high up in the air, and when a photographer is close to the subject, those lights can be placed into the frame, adding some drama to photo. (See the 2 photos below for a comparison)

When George Strait took the stage, we photogs were placed back at the same position we were in for Lee Ann Womack. George had a microphone stand placed in the corner of the stage facing us, so I knew I'd be able to get some nice shots.

George walked on stage to a roar of applause, he was handed an acoustic guitar, and he made his way around the stage over to our position. He had a big smile on his face from the beginning. He was very relaxed and put on an amazing show. Most of the people in the arena were up from their seats and dancing in the aisles. I managed to get a number of photos I was happy with, and when we were ushered out, I felt content.

I don't want this post to sound like I'm complaining about photo restrictions... I just thought I'd share my reasoning from behind the camera. I get paid either way... but I like taking nice photos.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Skate Park

On Saturday, my fellow photographer Steve Esparza and I decided to hit the local skate park to test out some new equipment and play with HD video.

Steve recently purchased a Steadicam rig for his HD video studio, and this was a good excuse to give it some use. Of course, since we were there, I decided to take some stills as well. I think it's every photographer's fate to photograph skate boarders at some point in their life.

I managed to get a few ok shots, and while I was there I shot some HD video on my Canon 5D MkII while Steve was shooting with his FX-1. Eventually, we will probably merge the 2 video tracks together, but in the meantime, I did a quick rough edit of the footage I captured. Some of it is steadicam by Steve from when we slapped the 5D on his steadicam rig. Enjoy. (Click on the title to view on in HD)

Thanks to all the kids and their parents for permission to shoot.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Flash test

Over the weekend I was playing with my strobes. Just experimenting with different placements of all the units... since I don't tend to get the chance to use them that often. It started with me photographing my wife... I got some nice results in a short amount of time, and decided to wrap it up. But the next day I had one last idea of putting the strobe up high in the air and turning down the power. I only took one picture before I went inside to look at it.

The reason for the post is actually to showcase a very weird result I got from playing in the RAW photo editor in Photoshop. The above photo is the photo as it came off my camera. Below is the same photo after a few tweaks in the RAW editor.

This last photo is again, the same photo, after experimenting with the luminance sliders. I got something I thought was pretty F'ing crazy... it looks like me... but old! Or me after sitting in the sun for a year. Anyways. I just wanted to share.

And on a side note, I've decided to become less picky with photo jobs... so if anyone out there needs portraits or head shots... or something completely bizarre and ridiculous photographed, (yes please!), email me.