Jazz Night, March 2013

March 18, 2013 at 4:20 pm

There is an incred­i­ble place in Asheville called Isis that has Sun­day night jazz. For free! Amaz­ing food, great drinks — def­i­nitely a place to mark and remem­ber. Here are some pho­tos from a recent visit!

Photo Exploration: The Guitar. January 2013

February 4, 2013 at 3:41 pm

Per­form­ers on stage are, by the nature of per­form­ing, pretty emo­tive peo­ple. Usu­ally cog­nizant of every look and motion, they are con­stantly build­ing up a pres­ence with their eyes and hands and lips and hair and clothes and so on and so on. That makes for engag­ing and excit­ing pho­tog­ra­phy — think of the time­less imagery of Jimi Hen­drix, Jimmy Page or James Brown (acci­den­tal allit­er­a­tion, what?). Even in the midst of organic and spon­ta­neous activ­ity, there is a con­stant per­sona pre­sented to the audience.

How­ever, with the right envi­ron­ment and patience, occa­sion­ally a pho­to­graph can be taken that catches a moment of quiet dis­trac­tion. Such as the pho­to­graph below.


Taken at the French Broad Brew­ery, this photo was one of a series and you can see the rest of the show here. But this one image stood out to me for a num­ber of rea­sons — I get a sense of soli­tude, maybe of inter­nal rehearsal, and ulti­mately a sense of calm. I’ll be hon­est — I really like this image. I like the color, the com­po­si­tion, the sub­ject. I like that it feels a lit­tle bit behind-the-stage-curtain. I really like that it does not look like a con­cert pho­to­graph I would nor­mally take.

How to get such a photo, and how to repro­duce? The tech­ni­cal spec’s are 1600ISO, 1/60 @ f/2. Canon 5Dmk2, 50mm f/1.4 lens. Stage light­ing (of which I had no con­trol). So we know it’s going to be a mod­er­ately grainy setup, and we know the DOF is pretty going to be pretty shal­low. And since the light­ing is com­ing from the stage lights, we can assume that it’s going to be a mish­mash of some red, yel­low and green­ish tones.

And all of which plays well with this “cur­tain for a back­drop” type of stage. If it wasn’t a top-notch craft brew­ery, you could expect PBR cans or per­haps cracked tum­blers of Old Crow for refresh­ments. For­tu­nately, the beer was deli­cious (ESB for me) and the glasses solid.

Any­way — the main thing you have to remem­ber with these sort of envi­ron­ments is to be alert. Dis­trac­tions between songs can lead to missed oppor­tun­ties. When the singer moves away from the mic, don’t go back to the beer. Fol­low her with your cam­era and watch what’s going on. Is she get­ting some­thing out of her gui­tar case? Is she talk­ing to some­one off-stage? Is she, as in this case, chang­ing instru­ments entirely? All of these open up the win­dow for a photo that’s a bit more involved, a bit more per­sonal than the pro­tected and pro­jected per­son­al­ity of the artist.

Thanks must also go out to Chelsea Labate of Ten Cent Poetry for gra­ciously allow­ing pho­tog­ra­phy at her events.

Ten Cent Poetry, French Broad Brewery

February 2, 2013 at 6:45 pm

Chelsea Labate, per­form­ing as Ten Cent Poetry at the French Broad Brewery

Photo Exploration: Austin, Vocals. March 2011

January 23, 2013 at 10:36 pm

I heard from a film pho­tog­ra­pher once that he would only shoot the first three songs of a con­cert. He said the energy level was high­est then and that at least one of the songs was going to be some­thing the crowd could get into. There was the prac­ti­cal real­ity that if you wanted to get your pho­tos in the papers then you had bet­ter get back to the hotel and start devel­op­ing ASAP. If I had fol­lowed his advice I would have missed this photo.

Austin, Vocals

This was taken at the only live per­for­mance of a group of extremely, extremely tal­ented musi­cians that went by the name The Arche­techs. I believe all were taken dur­ing the song Mr. Multi-Million. The show was in a cramped room in down­town Asheville that was over­flow­ing with peo­ple. I’d been work­ing with the group to pro­vide imagery for their web­site, album mate­r­ial, etc and was excited to finally see them live. It was quite a mean­ing­ful experience.

There are some attrib­utes to a venue that help pho­tog­ra­phers. Great light­ing, easy to get around, awe­some stages — plenty of places have those fea­tures. The loca­tion of this show was not one of them. It was a com­pletely flat floor, pro­vid­ing for an inti­mate expe­ri­ence with the band but dif­fi­cult to get angles one nor­mally can get at an event. The light­ing was atro­cious. Barely any spe­cial light­ing for the band, and what there was were basi­cally direc­tional 40watt bulbs. So, out comes the 50mm f/1.4 and we’re shoot­ing pretty much wide open and hop­ing for decent fram­ing. ISO at least 1600 on a 5D all night. Look­ing for any set­tings that will come out sharp and rea­son­ably exposed.

Even with the dif­fi­cul­ties there were a great num­ber of pho­tos that came out at least decent. Some good energy shots, some nice inti­mate cap­tures, and espe­cially a series of Austin singing this one song. I remem­ber very clearly tak­ing the pho­tos and hav­ing high expec­ta­tions for a sin­gle defin­i­tive shot. But the more I looked at that series — try­ing to pick out “the one” — the more I leaned towards a set. It was clearer to me that a trip­tych con­veyed Austin’s emo­tions and con­vic­tions far more com­pletely than one soli­tary capture.

After mix­ing and match­ing the sets, I decided on these three. I enjoy the story they tell, the self­less­ness of the artist mixed with the con­vic­tion of the cause in the lyrics. Even though the pho­tos are grainy, the con­trast is higher than I pre­fer and the fram­ing isn’t per­fect, I can hear the song every time I see the pho­tos. Try­ing to accu­rately doc­u­ment the power of per­for­mance leads down many paths and most often the results aren’t what were expected.

To close, I don’t know if Austin has sung the song in pub­lic since this show, but I’d like to think that every time there is this much energy and soul in the performance.

Jack9 at Jack of the Wood

November 7, 2011 at 7:00 pm

My favorites from a con­cert at Jack of the Wood. It is a chal­leng­ing place to shoot — dark, no great angles, low stage — but it can also afford a lit­tle inti­macy with an unob­tru­sive cam­era. It was a great oppor­tu­nity to test the new Fuji X100 — very good low-light capa­bil­i­ties and can be basi­cally made as invis­i­ble as a film rangefinder. It was a great expe­ri­ence both with the shoot­ing and the results!

Jack9 at MoDaddy’s

October 3, 2011 at 2:23 pm

When the light­ing is rough, go to black and white. Not a hard and fast rule, or a good idea all of the time…or even some of the time. But with this show, I think it worked.

The Turquoise Ball 2011

September 3, 2011 at 2:22 pm

Fan­tas­tic pho­tog­ra­phy from The Turquoise Ball, by the Asheville Area Arts Coun­cil. At The Orange Peel in late August 2011.

Omar Rodriguez Lopez Group and more at The Orange Peel

March 27, 2011 at 8:05 pm

A really fan­tas­tic show at the Orange Peel, and I was pretty pleased with the results from the event. 7D with the 50mm f/1.4, nearly all shot at 1/80 sec­ond at f/2.2 or so.