Time for Convention Hell!

The annual Halloween bash that is Convention Hell is getting ready to go down at Asbury Park’s Convention Hall. For the past three years Dark City Entertainment has put on what has become, the party of the year. The entire arena is transformed into a gigantic concert hall of spookiness and select local bands grace the stage to cover some of their favorite artists. While song is the highlight of the night, this is the one event where I will bypass the music photos for some step and repeat portrait stylings. Of course with everyone being in costume and when the opportunity presents itself, I just have to play around with the shots.  A little diddy I made up of the hostess and her bill, no this is not the official flyer.

When you have 800 people attend an event, in some amazing costumes, can it get any better for a portrait guy? Me thinks not.  Two of my favorite from last years gala:

I have never been that slick in doing composites, it still takes me forever to cut something out, but the more you try the better you get, I think. One of those things that in person instruction would be a blessing. Online classes don’t cut it for me for this. This next one I think I have used somewhere before, but I really like their look so I popped them on a new background:

These guys are from two years ago and is one of the first composites I did from these shows when I started acquiring backgrounds.

Well, blood and ghoul is part of the mantra of the season…

Turn of the century NY set in London? Little help with this period style please…

Love this dude, The Purge….

That’s all for now. Thanks for stopping by, See you on the 28th!

Phil

Summer? What Summer…

Summer? What Summer. If anyone knows where it went, please let me know. I do not think I have ever experienced those three months, you know, June, July, August, that seemed to go by so fast. The weather was a bit funky too as August had many windows open days, certainly great for the electric bill but I still missed the whole hanging outside thing. Since it was gone in the blink of an eye I will attribute this to one thing in particular, the full-time job had me losing my mind. One persons decision destroyed three months for me, funny thing is he is no longer employed by us. Go figure.  Now that things are settled down, I am slowly returning to a normal existence and recalling all the good things that happened.

My saving grace has always been the photo gig, my other life, really my real life.  The good part of the summer started off when I was hired to shoot a wedding, on the beach, in the middle of June and with a bunch of friends in attendance. This was a lifesaver for me emotionally and I was riding this high for the rest of the month. By choice I do not do many weddings. I love the smaller more intimate ones the best, the ones where people in attendance mean something to each other. Less than 100 people, preferably less than 50. Give me a private affair with 20 people and I am in my glory. Very chill with enough room and time to get everything accomplished. When it really comes down to it, we all have a close group of people we associate with, they all mean something to the heart and are not just a relative of a relatives friend. The past two weddings I did my wife manned the video for me. We did this as an experiment really to see how it would come out. So far so good and now I need to learn how to edit video.

Over the next few posts I will be sharing a few of the summer shoots, all people aside from one longish hike and some falls. Um, waterfalls.

Donna and Joe have been friends for years and they finally had the opportunity to become one. Both are paramedics, both are parents. Joe is also a Police Officer and Donna is even a grandma! So what it really comes down to, is both know how to relax and both know how to throw party. The weather was beautiful for their chosen day, slightly windy and a bit overcast so no one wilted in their fancy clothes.

I was pregaming with the bride, enjoyed some Mimosas and some killer window light

Did not see Joe till we were at the beach, of course he was doing his best to stay undercover

This next image..the look into each others eyes, no words need be spoken but they are actually both saying – I got you now…

A couple of after the ceremony Beach Portraits of course,

And one that we broke out into song while under the boardwalk

What do you think happened with this? Surprisingly, they both stayed clean

And at the end of the night when the adults were just getting started, the youngest ones were the smartest. Thank You Donna and Joe for kicking off the summer right!

Till the next time, Thanks for stopping by!

Phil

A Community of Love

This one is a little tough for me to talk about. After attending our dance school for 13 years it has closed shop. Three weeks before recital, 5 weeks before nationals. Poof, done. No warning at all. Heartbreak, disappointment, betrayal and lord knows what other thoughts filled the minds of 75 students and their families. The five girls on the competition team have felt it the most, sticking by the studios owner last year while others departed for alternate places to dance. These are the girls that spend hours and hours a week at the studio, performing at competitions, proudly displaying their colors. Their life has been pulled out from underneath them.

When word got out about what had gone down, and it did not take long, the outpouring of love and support was incredible and 60 hours later we were able to get rehearsal space and the recital space we needed to see all of these dancers fulfill their ambitions and to show their families what they had learned during the year. Thank you to everyone who helped in getting this done. One of our teachers and our competition team advisory board are using all of their experience in arranging the show. Me, I am putting in my efforts and will be taking the group photos for all the dances at dress rehearsal. Of course this means I will not be doing my normal routine of shooting the dancers on stage, but I will be on it hard during the actual show.

Our next step is to obtain funding for the competition team to go to dance nationals. The money that had been put out by the teams parents is now gone. We do not know where it went or why it did not reach its destination, but what is done is done. We are hoping it went into keeping the studio open for as long as it could.  Hope and faith are a balancing act right now.

A Go Fund Me page for the girls has been established and lord willing, the goal will be reached and we will get them there. If you can help out just click the link. You will be a part of making five girls very, very happy.

I will check back in after recital. Lots and lots to do!

Thanks for stopping by!

Phil

The Final Season Begins

The final year for this era of competitive dance is now firmly upon my family as we head towards our first big event of the year. The team is smaller this time around, the daughter is a senior now, and she will be jamming out on stage with her four teammates about six more times before all is said and done. She has already been accepted to the dance program at the college she will be heading to in September, now she just needs to try out for their dance team. Yeah, I am confused about that too. Academic vs Elective?

Spent my normal run up to our first event of the year in the studio with the girls during rehearsals, and sat in for the dress rehearsal as well. I am always envious of the flexibility they have and continually say I need to do something about my own. Goals….

Even though the team is smaller this year the excitement is no less, especially with Britt doing a solo number. If I may have a father moment, I am incredibly proud of my young love, she has grown in to such a kind, caring and beautiful young lady.  Her dancing is full of expression and filled with passion.

On the flip side of this equation is the youngest dancer on the team, appearing quiet and a bit reserved, she has a smile that lights up a room and puts in a great solo of her own.

We have a nice mix of dances this year, a gorgeous lyrical number, couple of hip hop routines, a jazz and a tap in addition to the two solos. The dances are very different from what the girls are used to. For the first time in, well forever, they have a couple of different instructors bringing in some new styles and influences. Loving the fresh approach and I think the girls dig it too.

I actually called Tap predictable the other day. Compared to the other styles, photographically it is. BUT, Tap is incredibly difficult and watching it is a thing I marvel at. Shooting it is easy is all I am saying, still bunches of fun isolating the feet.

 The girls were questioning the gold jackets, but they look really sharp and fit the dance to a tee. I also think they are going to look great on the stage.

The techy, geeky stuff: On camera flash for Laura stretching, bounced off the mirror, Britt has the direct  light with a Rogue Grid attached. No flash while they were doing their routines – 2.2, 1/500th, 2000. I was done shooting when I remembered I had my 85 with me.  So of course I had to break it out and see what I could get. From that, this happened. Hey, I am a portrait guy and no matter if I shoot dance or music, I am always looking at the face.  Jamie has been in front of the lens a bit.  She has such a great look.  I tried to distract her and get her laughing but she was totally engrossed in the theme of the number.

Best of luck girls!

Thanks For Stopping by!

Phil

Asbury Music Awards: Photos

This one is all about the photographs.

The Asbury Music Awards were held at the Legendary The Stone Pony recently. Had an excellent time.  Had an even better time capturing some amazing local bands on the Stone Pony Stage. Been wanting to shoot there for a while and finally got the chance. Almost like I was in heaven. You can find a complete list of winners here. Some of the choice shots from my night.

 

Exit 82 Theater Little Women

The 2014 winter production from Exit 82 Theater Company is underway at the Grunin Theater on the Ocean County College Campus. This season’s presentation of Louisa May Alcott’s offering of Little Women features a concentrated cast of characters including a couple of new additions to the mix. Bridget Hughes was phenomenal in her portrayal of principal character Jo March and combined with the supporting talent this is certainly a play you want to see this holiday season.

Running now through Dec 20, tickets are available here or at the box office. Friday and Saturday nights normally sell out so be sure to purchase in advance to secure your seat and support your local performing arts.

And doing what I do, here is a little preview of the action on stage for you

Thank you for stopping by, Till next time!

Phil

The Back to My Roots Tour

The Back to My Roots Tour, as I am labeling it, has led me out of retirement and back into the local music scene. Well, sort of. For this go round, rather than me being on the stage and performing, I am in the crowd, camera in hand, documenting the nights groups for the web based music review site Speak Into My Good Eye. A big thanks to Chris and Mike for bring me on board. I have been introduced to some great bands, met some fantastic people and witnessed some of the frenzy that has reemerged in the Asbury Park, NJ music scene.

If you are familiar with me, you may know that I shoot with a Canon 7D which is not the greatest camera when it comes to low light captures. Night clubs/bars are small and the lighting is less than stellar for photographs. Red Wash is a bitch. Many, if not most of the other photographers I have shot with have used flash. So to be different, I did not. I did not to a point of stubbornness. This resulted in some very soft images. Yes, I overshot a bunch in order to get the right combination of red/green/purple/blue/yellow lights in the image to satisfy my desires and I tried not to take the easy way out and just convert them to b/w unless they really screamed convert me!

Some of my favorites from July’s shows:

There came a point sometime in the later part of September in the main club I shoot at that they changed their front lights and gelled them. I had to break down and start using a flash to compensate. Even though I have a Rogue Grid attached to retain some of the color depth on stage, I still am very hesitant with using a supplemental light source due to the effects it has on the performers. The ones I have spoken to say they do not even notice but stealth mode is no longer possible. The good thing about it is that I am shooting 50% less than I did without a flash. And color wash is not as big of a concern. Trials and tribulations.

I have never been all that comfortable with on camera flash, much prefer having them off camera. Maybe one day when I am not the new guy on the scene anymore I will be able to set a few up around and on the stage and really create some drama. A 5DIII is not anywhere in my near future but how I would relish the chance shooting at 6400 iso without a worry at all.

Some shots using flash:

And sometimes, you just never know what will appear during a set…

The Bull Fight

Thanks for stopping by! Till next time…

Phil

A Funny Thing Happened…

Exit 82 Theater’s production of A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum is now underway at the Arts and Community Center of Ocean County College. I just completed my third production photographing this troupe and each show I do they get better and better. Entering just its sixth season, a core group of super talented producers and performers and have emerged leading the way for three productions this year. Mind you, these are all volunteer performers doing it for the love of the art and it shines as bright as the sun. I think I was laughing so hard at one point my 1/1000 shutter speed was not quick enough to prevent some blur. Had to regain composure rather abruptly so I could take care of the task at hand.

Exit 82 Theater COmpany

I am really liking this next image. Lycus is the character’s name.

Exit 82 Theater COmpany

Enjoyment and surprise…

Exit 82 Theater COmpany

 

Satisfaction and disbelief…

Exit 82 Theater COmpany

Song…

Exit 82 Theater COmpany

Hysterium gets my award for best expressions. His character had a very strong presence during the show.

Hysterium

The Roman Captain, Does he get the girls?

Exit 82 Theater COmpany

Words of wisdom…

Exit 82 Theater COmpany

This show runs through Sunday, if you are in the area looking for a good adventure grab your tickets and help support the local arts.

Thanks for stopping by, Till the next time….

 

A White Christmas

This winters production from Toms River’s Exit 82 Theater Company is now underway. The selection of Irving Berlin’s White Christmas marks a return to the stage for one of the Company’s founding members and current Artistic Director, Sean Openshaw.

Artistic Director Sean Openshaw
Artistic Director Sean Openshaw

This show marks the companies 7th production since it became a not for profit organization in 2009. With a cast and crew comprised solely of volunteers their passion and love for the performing arts shines in this years adaptation of White Christmas. I continue to be in awe of the talent of all the performers and I am thoroughly impressed by the dedication each one holds to their craft.

WhiteXmas1_PShepherd-88If you are a New Jersey resident, get in the spirit, take the time to support the arts and go experience the sights and sounds of Exit 82 Theater Company’s rendition of White Christmas. Tickets available here or at the door.

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Have a Happy and Healthy Holiday Season!

Thanks for stopping by, till next time…