Anatomy of a New Smoke Machine

Life does have its weird way of coming back around. Back in the early nineties, the band I was playing in had no interest in playing at the Wonder Bar in Asbury Park, NJ. For whatever the reason back then, it had no appeal to us. And now I am there on a regular basis.

About 18 months ago I picked up a gig with the music review site, Speak into My GoodEye, and this started a regular weekly adventure for me shooting bands every Monday night at the Wonder Bar. The Wonder Bar is one of the premiere music venues in Asbury Park, offering some great local music as well as national touring acts coming through.  Recently, sound man extraordinaire Billy Colledge from Asbury Audio installed a new smoke machine and I came across a set a shots that perfectly emulate its nature.

I love smoke. It makes everything look so much better, giving depth and personality to the photos.  Tough when it hides the drummers, but so cool under the stage lights. And for those on stage right, we are almost guaranteed of a good photo. Red lights still kill, but black and white is beautiful.

The following shots depict the beginning of the waft of smoke and finally overtaking the stage and creating some striking images as a result:

Just Before:


and here it comes


My two favorite images from the whole sequence



I often find it is the simple things that excite me, but there is nothing simple about capturing images conditions.  The musician in the photo is Andrew Milea, front man for Wild Americans. He has a great look and a super groove. If you are local, stop by on a Monday night and check out the tunes. And keep your eyes peeled for some other great shows that go down at the venue.

Thanks for stopping by!


A little Point and Shoot at the Summer Stage

Legendary Asbury Park, NJ venue The Stony Pony kicked off their Summer Stage Outdoor series in grand fashion with a sold out show courtesy of Halestorm. Along for the ride were supporting acts The Pretty Reckless and Starset. This show had been on my radar since it was announced back in late winter and my wife had been expressing her interest in it rather enthusiastically as well. Of course I had ulterior motives with my desires.

Waiting till two days before the show to secure our tickets, the event promoter was doing the stingy with the press pass so I hit up the box office for three and made sure the Canon G12 was charged and loaded. If you live in NJ and are planning to go to a show, do yourself a favor and make the trip to the box office instead of purchasing online and paying service fees. Well, your choice, but I thought the $40 savings was pretty nice. Yes, I was bummed that my trusty steed would remain stagnant for the evening, thinking it would be a great way to start the summer, but it is what it is, move on.

We arrived to find the line wrapped around 75% of the building, holy crap. It moved fairly quick though and after a bite and a brew went to secure the spot.



but not that close as witnessed by this shot of The Pretty Reckless.


Starset was the first to hit the stage and I was not all that familiar with them but did actually know two of their songs. Very Breaking Benjamin with more Moog. I like their sound, they are brilliant minds and stand for a great cause, but I could do without the outfits.

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In between all the heads, arms and cell phones in the air I managed to get a few shots off. The G12 is a great little compact camera under normal conditions. Music photography is not by any means normal. Most of the photos from the night have a rather healthy crop to them and I was pleased they did not lose that much detail when cropped.

The Pretty Reckless was next and the push forward had begun. Let the bracing begin. And the photos of people taking pictures and videos on their phones. At least no one pulled out an iPAD.

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My wife and daughter got to meet and hang out a little with Lizzy Hale a couple of years ago and have been fans ever since. And of course they turned me onto them as well.

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The lighting on the wings was terrible for my little shooter and they all went to the trash bin. I have become very critical of stuff and have no reservations about getting rid of files if I do not like them. Plus they take up way too much space.

This next photo I have some uneasy feelings about. I do not use the “P” word much, or maybe, and thankfully, I have not had to use it or even think it that much. BUT, look closely. Double neck, looks cool, yada, yada… However, there are six pegs on each neck…What’s up with that?


At the end there was much rejoicing and everyone was happy. Watching Lizzy’s brother Arejay on drums was awesome.  One thing I did not know and thought was very cool – Their dad played bass for them when they were just starting out.


Getting to shoot and hear many of the bands coming through Asbury Park has indeed allowed me to become a bit spoiled. You can check out my musical adventures and the guys I shoot for here.  I do have a few things on deck for Twilight and Dusk so I will be back soon.

Thanks for stopping by, Till next time…


A review of the Rogue Grid

A well respected member of a photo group I belong to requested I do a review of the Rogue Grid by Expo Imaging. Whom am I refuse such a request. I have never done a written review of sorts so this will be a first. But first –

Short worded reviews: yes it is worth it. What the heck does this mean? Worth it to who? OR: It is awesome! Its awesome is in the same category as – Its a piece of crap. Opinions, just opinions. Everyone has one, so if everyone has one the majority would rule so it must be good right? There is never a correct answer when it is an opinion. Except of course for the person who is stating that opinion…So here it goes. No opinions.

Being new to off camera flash photography the Rogue Grid by ExpoImaging is one of the first flash modifiers I acquired. I purchased it as part of the Rogue Portrait Lighting  package however it sells as a stand alone item for $49.95.

Rogue Grid by Expo Imaging (Flash not Included)

Slipping over the head of the flash and tightened down with a thick elastic strap it is anchored by a velcro strip and a metal snap with a choice between two contact points based on the size of your flash head.The housing or grid support as I would call it, is a thick nylon material reinforced with a couple of bendable metal strips. The interior is a nice bright white. Seems very durable. My only gripe with this part of it are the elastic loops that hold the grid housing on the nylon covering. They seem a bit loose and I am concerned that they may stretch out over time. This may be negated though because the actual grid head slides over the nylon nice and secure leading me to think the elastic loops are secondary devices to secure the grids onto the holder. The grids themselves come in two different sizes. 45 degrees and 25 degrees  When used together they produce a 16 degree light spread. They are made of an incredibly sturdy plastic, I can not see these pieces breaking, ever.

Light spread at 45 degrees:

Rogue Grid using 45 degree head

Light spread at 25 degrees

Rogue Grid using 25 degree head

Light spread using both modifiers. 18 degree light spread

Rogue Grid with 18 degree light spread

I know, I know, it fit the bill for an example…  Tebow is NOT the answer. 0-4 if he was at helm. Whoops….I stated an opinion….

Do I like it? Yes, very much. So much that I want another one. You can still fit a rectangular gel on the flash head but there are specific gels made for the grid. A set of 20 goes for $27.95 and includes a case with dividers/color description cards. I will be picking up a set of these soon.

I did some self portrait shots with the grid using the different combinations.Produced a very isolated lighting area, great for moody shots. I posted a couple of these already in various places, so here is one I did not put up. I was checking out the 18 degree grid here. The moodiest one by far.

18 degree test, self portrait style.

So why did I choose this over the other style grids? I like the circular pattern it provides, the other models are rectangular. This also amounts to a 3 in 1 product. The others may be less expensive but offer only one size. To achieve similar flexibility as the Rogue Grid you would have to buy multiple sizes and spend more money. Do it right the first time.

Well, thus concludes my review, I hope it helped. If you have any questions please ask. I have not come close to using this to its potential, but as opportunities arise I will be learning about its advantages even more. Robert Harrington does some really nice work with all the Expo Imaging Products and has some great examples.

Till next time..