Thursday, November 27, 2014

Back for Attack

I do so love photographing concerts, especially concerts where there is proper lighting. Witness the following four pictures. The lead singer from 3 Pill Morning, the bass player from Twelve Foot Ninja, the guitarist from In This Moment, and the drummer from Starset. The venue was darn near perfect. We had a dedicated press pass, photo pit, unlimited time to photograph each band, and on top of all that, interviews with some of the bands and a free water cart.
What more could I have asked for?
Well, a better camera of course. While I love my D2x to death, the low-light/high ISO  capabilities are starting to be long in the tooth. Oh Nikon D3x, you will soon be mine (just as soon as I sell off all my old gear that is, which, since I am loathe to part with it, will probably be never)
I have been too long removed from music, this shall be rectified in the coming year.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Gone Daddy Gone

A band I hadn't heard of before, The Glorious Gone. The bass player was incredibly enthusiastic about his playing  so most of my photography efforts for this band was concentrated on him. As I recall the singer could hold a note and what I heard I liked.  

No Introductions Required

I'm sure this man needs no introduction, but on the off chance you don't know who he is, it's Ice-T and his band Body Count. The music is a curious mixture of Thrash and Rap, but mostly Thrash. He was very good at talking to the crowd (something a number of bands I've shot could stand to learn) and got them laughing as well.
His enthusiasm for the concert meant he was bouncing all over the place and coupled with a packed press pit, made good shots difficult to get.
I threw in the drummer pic because I liked his mask. 

Very Loud

I always wear eagplugs to a concert for several reasons, one, I'm usually next to the speakers, and two, by drowning out the music it allows me to concentrate on the musicians themselves and predict what they might do so I can catch a good shot.
This is a band called Hatebreed, who played at the GwarBQ. They were so bloody loud it was like I didn't have earplugs at all. I've never encountered a band that could penetrate what I have for hearing protection. Needless to say, I shot a bit of the band and got out of the pit as fast as possible. I have no idea how they managed to be that loud. 

Wintertime Catchup

Now that cooler weather has shone up, my photography has slowed down enough for me to catch up with the *summer* pics from the GwarBQ. The press pit was packed to the gills to the point I could not move, so having to stake out a position and shoot from there means the pics all have the same angle to them, sorry about that but I never expected the sheer mass of photographers for this.
In any event, for your consideration is the bass player and lead guitarist for the mighty Gwar. 

Monday, October 27, 2014

On the Flip Side

The other two rolls, however, yielded far more difficult images to work with. While the three shots previously posted were straight from the developer, these two had to be adjusted so you could see anything at all. As I mentioned before, the rolls were foreign, and expired, so who knows what they've been through before I got them in my hands. I believe the Nikon F5 saw them as ISO 400, but I do not remember exactly. The contrast for each has been increased and some other histogram levels were modified, but the colours (such as they are) were left untouched.
When I first looked through the images, I was disappointed nothing turned out, but then I had to remind myself this is what you get when dealing with film of unknown quality. If I had wanted magazine-worthy shots, I should have used the D2x.
But I did want to be different this time, hoping the age of the film would work to my advantage. The top shot reminds me of the old 60s slide images our parents showed us that had been taken with disposable cameras, while the bottom shot reminds me of the poster for the original version of "Night of the Living Dead" 
So perhaps not all has been lost after all. Fortunately, those were my only two rolls of the foreign film, so I hope to have a little more control in the future.
There is a zombie obstacle course/5k fun run coming up in a few weeks, I'm debating whether I should continue with the film path, or revert to digital for the event.
What say you my readers? Would you like to see more uneven surprises?

Halloween Experimentation

 So it's that time of year again, when the zombies come out to play. I always enjoy the effort people put into their outfits and love to photograph large gatherings. A local venue has a zombie walk every year with hundreds of zombies gathering for the thirty minute walk/run/shamble. I've photographed it many times before and this time I felt I should do something different. Expand my horizons so to speak.
So, I gathered three rolls of expired film, my mint condition Nikon F5, my rather battered and abused 80-200mm f/2.8, and went to town. Given the expiration dates were unknown, I really had little idea of what I was going to get. One roll was Kodak 100 Gold, which even in the best of times produces muted flat colours, and the other two rolls had no english on them whatsoever. As near as I could tell, they were from India, or possibly Pakistan. The three shots to the left are from the Kodak roll. Note that even though this was rated as ISO 100, you can see the emulsion starting to break down, and the grain become visible and rendering the already shallow DoF (all shot at 2.8 to isolate the subject from the rather cluttered background) become even
more indistinct. Of all the images I have taken throughout the years, from Colorado, to Canada, Belize and beyond, the first shot is my absolute favourite to date. The grain hit just right to add to her makeup, the colours uneven and wrong, in short, everything typical about shooting with expired film and it all came together perfectly for that one shot. 

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Once In A Lifetime

 I won a once in a lifetime chance to fly on my choice of a WW2 B-17 Flying Fortress or the WW2 B-24 Liberator. When the event promoters called me up and told me I had won two seats, I was stunned, when they asked me if I was free that day, I told them, practically shouted at them, "Yes!" and my choice was automatic, the iconic B-17. So I gave them my name and my friend's name (wasn't a difficult choice on whom to pick to go with me) and they sent me the details and locations to be.
Fate having a twisted sense of humour, in cahoots with Mother Nature, ensured it was
 raining cats and dogs. Undeterred, I packed by best gear and went in search of the plane.
There is something about standing in the shadows of history that gives one pause. The men who fought and died in the plane, and damage it took, the sheer awesomeness of it all, it wasn't something to be approached lightly. With the, at times heavy downpour, the colours, already muted with military greens, were further rendered into drabness, all the exterior images have been converted to Black and White.

Despite the rain, there were a fair number of people about, both inside the plane touring, and outside, so taking a picture of each plane without people around was a matter of patience. We waited a fair amount of hours for the rain to let up, which it finally did, at least enough for the crew to take the B-17 into the air. Inside the bomber was much more cramped than I expected, given the tremendous size and moving about required dexterity and flexibility, but once we were settled in, the captain and co-pilot taxied us down the runway, waited for the green light, and then opened up the engines. 
The sonic wall of power and fury assaulted my senses and I was awash in the roar and motion as the B-17 tore up the tarmac and launched itself into the sky. Once up we were free to move about and explore, with the only off-limits area being the ball turret inside and read tail gun. Given the fortress had no fancy electronics, or radar, we stayed reasonably low, above the rain and mountains, but not so high up as to freeze us. Nonetheless I was glad for a heavy coat. I do not recall how long the flight was, but it was worth every second and even now my ear still hum
 with the sounds of the Wright Cyclones bass rumble.
I will probably never again have such an opportunity, but in this case, one will be enough.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Learning From Success

You can learn much from your failures, but you can learn equally from your successes. Case in point: this shot.
I was approached by a friend, who needed some pictures taken for a job she was applying for. She sent me the list of requirements for the pictures, and boy were they long.
And detailed.
And involved.
And on occasion, contradictory.
I wasn't sure I was good enough to take the pics, but I said I would try. So I read and re-read their requirements, pulled out some of my photography books on lighting and poses, read some more, and set up my gear.
I had a black cloth backdrop to absorb some of the light, she (and my snake, Pokey) in front. A hair light shining down from above, one strobe at a 45 degree angle on the left side about 4 feet away, and another one at 90 degrees from her at the same distance.
I used my 50mm lens at F/14 (now, a sidetrack here: F/14 isn't a "real" f/stop in the classic sense, but it worked in this case) set the ISO to 200 and shutter to 1/250.
One of the requirements of the shots that are submitted is they cannot be photoshopped in any way, straight from the camera only. So what you see is what I took.
I took about 30 shots, and she submitted the ten best. All ten were accepted and she got the job. I was super happy for me, but also for myself, for it showed I could pull off demanding shots in an area I'm not well versed in.

Learning from Failure

A local photography group had a themed shoot where the main focus point of the image should be the colour red. Being an inventive sort, prone to thinking outside the box, I thought I'd shoot in infra-red.
Well, too clever for my own good it seems. I'd scored a mint condition Nikon D1x (with buffer upgrade even) on eBay for pennies (literally, it was condition unknown) which I thought would make a perfect IR camera. Grabbed a 720mm IR filter and went to town on the shoot.
Sadly, the day was partially overcast and the IR-look I was after didn't quite pan out. There were several challenges in getting this shot, one, the bike was sandwiched in a parking lot between several large cars, so I had to decide how best to isolate it from the background clutter. This meant getting down low, so I broke out the tripod, set the camera for a 2 second exposure on my 17-35mm lens, and fired. 
I did this about 10 times from different angles and positions until I was happy with the result. A little post processing and here you have it. More Black and White than IR, but it was a learning experience. In addition, when I get the spare cash laying around, I'm converting the D1x to a pure IR camera so be on the lookout for some (hopefully) otherworldly shots.