Friday, June 16, 2017

Totally and Completely Off Topic

Lately I have been doing a new kind of photography, Art Fashion. While the pics are not here yet (not all of them are family friendly) I have been devoting some time to a new hobby, that of Recurrent Neural Networks. The topic is far beyond the scope of this journal, but I've been training mine on Shakespeare, and I'm hooked on the output. I nudged my RNN to look at his works from the viewpoint of "life and loss" and it came up with this gem, which I thought I'd share.

"...And prove your common name to our reason
That he is cursed that claim to the place of thee."

Deep words from a shallow program.

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Something New

 Still here, alive and kicking. I know I haven't posted much, because not much has been going on photography-wise. It's winter and not enough snow to make things pretty, but still cold and dreary all the same, which restricts my hobbies to indoors. 
Regardless, here we are, on the cusp of spring. These images were done at a Bluegrass Festival. Certainly not my normal style of music, and it was done as a favour to a friend, so it allowed me a certain level of freedom to pick and choose what I wanted to capture.
All done with my 70-200mm f/2.8 lens, typically at f/4.0 though the lighting was plain. Nikon d7000. Around 1/250th of a second.
As an aside, I've also been experimenting with shooting video, an altogether different set of skills required and I feel like I'm learning things all over again, which in a sense I am. Jury is out whether I will continue with it (it's very labour intensive to compile anything noteworthy) but it's something different. 

Friday, October 21, 2016

Playing in the Mud

I'm trying to get into more action photography, with the ultimate goal of shooting an NFL game, but that's some ways off. Currently I'm shooting cars, and had the opportunity to shoot a monster truck mud jam. 
The event was great fun and I met a ton of wonderful friendly people, both on and off the track. Here is a quick sample of some of the trucks there. 
I didn't use my best lens, as I figured the mud would come flying in my direction and as you can see, it did, in great heaping piles of it.
 I loved every second of being out there and yes, I arrived home to my wonderful family covered in must and dust. I look forward to doing it again.
I shot in shutter priority, ensuring the shutter speed never dropped below 1/1000 of a second, to catch the action. I used a second hand 55-200mm Nikon kit lens (not a bad lens for daylight, way waaay too slow for anything else) and my Nikon D7000

Friday, August 26, 2016

How NOT to Run a Concert

The following is a rant. No pics, just griping. Feel free to ignore if you wish.
I've been shooting the GwarBQ for 3 years now. This past one will probably be my last. I don't know who is the ultimate organizer of it, but I'm going to list several ways they managed to hose it up

(1) Send out confirmation, months in advance, that you are approved. When arrived, claim they lost the paperwork. Left me standing around looking like an idiot. Thankfully I had proof I was supposed to be there.
(2) Let anyone who can buy a media pass, into the press pit. This ensures that I merely have to deal with 50+ people with cell phones, point and shoots, and selfie sticks all vying for space that has been reduced by the presence of burly bouncers, instead of the usual 5.
(3) Rather than sorting these 50+ people into groups (pros first, amateurs next, joe random last) so we can each get good positions and pictures, shove everyone in like cattle, and let them fight it out, thus guaranteeing no one gets a good shot
(4) Ensure you have tons of burly bouncers taking up the good spots. Instruct them not to move one inch. Ensure they interfere with the photographers as much as possible. I can't tell you the number of hands that were *intentionally* placed in my shots.
(5) Reduce the size of the press pit by 30%. Couple this with (2) and (3) guarantees a crappy experience.
(6) Don't forget the 3 song rule. Expand this to include the lead singer talking to the audience for more than 30 seconds, so you get ~5 minutes to fight with (2), (3) (4) and (5) for two songs. Brilliant!

Seriously, I've been shooting concerts for many years now and this was, hands down, the worst experience I've encountered to date. If I didn't know better, I'd swear it was designed this way on purpose. I don't know what the reasoning behind this was, but damn guys, clean up your act!

Friday, August 19, 2016


Since moving into my new home, I've been rediscovering lenses I don't often use anymore. This one, for example, is my Sigma 50mm dedicated macro lens.
The subject of course is my Roughneck Monitor, Argo. He was basking in the sun and kind enough to smile for me.
I had the lens set for f/8, but could have used f/11 or probably even f/16, but I was handholding it and didn't want to bump the ISO higher than it already was.
Anyway, this is straight from the camera, no adjustments.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Where I've been

The astute among you will have noticed a sharp decrease in posts in the past year or so. Part of this is finding my niche, concert photography. Where I live there just aren't all that many concerts that I want to shoot. Sure, there are plenty of little venues with cramped spaces and terrible lighting, but that's not much fun anymore to be honest. Been there, done that, so to speak. Since I'm hooked on metal concerts, I have to watch what comes around and sadly, it's not that often.
The other part, and this isn't a full excuse, is, I bought a house. It's a very nice house, on a private lake, in the countryside. Being a family man has eaten up much of my time, as has moving in, getting real furniture, etc.
I also met someone special, which takes up time as well, although in a good way.
So, for those of you still with me here, I will continue to keep this site active, but not as much as when I first started in the world of photography and everything seemed fascinating to shoot.
Well, there you have it, cheers!

Friday, July 15, 2016

A Little Something Different

I have been requested to write an album review. Something I don't normally do, but I was honoured by the band, so here it is:
Musical Supergroups.

It's a common enough phrase, but the imagery it brings to mind is a varied as the people you ask. To some, it's a recipe for disaster; massive ego fighting for creative control. For others, it's a one album wonder, maybe done for love, perhaps done for money. Whatever the reason for existence, a supergroup is bound to make people sit up and take notice.

Spark some controversy, make some waves.

The latest incarnation of said phrase is here for your listening pleasure, to make you sit up, to take notice, and maybe in the process, stick in your brain. It's Dunsmuir.

The name doesn't exactly roll off the tongue like Cream, or Blue Murder does. In point of fact, I'm not even certain, without resorting to Google, who, or what, a Dunsmuir is. A quick online search says it's a city in California. Not exactly a name I associate with musical heavyweights, but that is perhaps about to change, for Dunsmuir packs some heavy firepower. Feast your eyes on these legends:

Neil Fallon of Clutch Fame
Brad Davis of Fu Manchu
Vinny Appice of, well just about every legendary metal band that ever was (Dio, Black Sabbath, Heaven and Hell, the list goes on)
Dave Bone from The Company Band.

Dave is the only member of the band that didn't immediately jump into my mind as being a heavyweight, but after listening to their eponymous debut, he certainly belongs up there with the rest.

The album is a concept piece (another common theme in musical supergroups) about the survivors of a 19th century shipwreck and the various fates that befall each one.

The album starts with "Hung On the Rocks" with clear catchy (not flashy, more meat and potatoes Ramones style) guitar work, backed up smartly by rumbling bass and crisp drumming. Before the vocals kick in, I’m thinking "Love Gun" by Kiss, but then Neil roars into play, just as forceful as he ever was. Clever lyrics abound, a solid sign of intelligence and hints of what's to come.

"And the Devil is content to dance,
The sea begins to boil, Charybdis awaits
Tie myself to the mast"

"Our Only Master" starts off with a snappy drum solo and the speed of the tune reminds you these four guys have their roots in metal. The middle of the song slows it down to Black Sabbath velocity with some haunting chants from Neil before picking up the pace for the end, which arrives in a short 3 minutes 20 odd seconds.

The short frame of the song reminds me this isn't a Clutch album, the longest song barely breaking the 5 minute mark, with most clocking in under 4 minutes. Unusual for a concept album. Judas Priest's Nostradamus broke the 100 minute mark, Queensryche's flawless Operation Mindcrime (really, the concept album which all others will be forever judged) hits the 1 hour mark. The ten songs from Dunsmuir barely surpass the half hour meter.

The rest of the songs move along at a brisk pace. The album will never be confused with speed metal, but only one track, "Church of the Tooth" (coincidentally the longest track here, at 5.47) slows down into sludge rock territory, but Neil's powerful pipes keep things alive and active. The band never gives the feeling of dissolving into a jam session or self-indulgent wankery. The drums move with purpose, with bass keeping the tempo and when the guitar isn't driving the song, it hits solo exploration, safe in the knowledge the rhythm section will carry it through.

The final song "Crawling Chaos" tackles H.P. Lovecraft's themes with aplomb and the lyrical touches only Neil can provide. Sounding like a deranged street preacher (I was going to say manic, but, you know…) he weaves the final tale of the last of the survivors as they descend into madness.

Will Dunsmuir be around for another album? Hard to say, each member has a firmly established career and finding time to write and record another album is always tricky, but where there is a will, there is a way.

As with most things Neil does, the lyrics, vocals and music linger far after the needle his the last groove and I found myself wanting more. So listen up dear readers, find the time, make the change, get in gear and find this album before the crawling chaos consumes us all.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Refining the Craft

Still alive and kicking. House hunting has eaten up all my time. Here are a few shots from the Halestorm, Lacuna Coil, Cilver tour that came through recently.
Using the Nikon D7000. I like the auto ISO feature, the solid low light performance, but the rest of the camera is a big step down from the D2x. But it will do in the meantime until the house is bought and my funds are free for other things. 

Sunday, February 7, 2016

The Man Who Sold The World

 So a friend of mine is in a David Bowie cover band. As a cancer fundraiser, they threw on a concert and asked me to shoot for them. Using my D7000 and a few wide angle lenses (35mm and 11-16mm) I managed a few good shots from a massively crowded venue.
No photo pit so I had to eel my way through the throngs of attendees and capture from there. The band was very true to the original, with the lead singer even looking like Bowie. 

Sunday, December 20, 2015


 My beloved D2x was getting a bit long in the tooth, ISO-wise, so with a bit of Christmas money, I bought a Nikon D7000. Not as tank-like as the D2x, but about 4 stops better in the ISO range, as the following pics from Carbon Leaf, show.
The auto ISO function on the D7000 is great. I can set the Aperture and Shutter speed I want, and the camera will set the ISO for proper exposure. I found this function very helpful. One less thing I have to worry about.