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:

WildAmericans119_PShepherd-22

and here it comes

6_Grid

My two favorite images from the whole sequence

WildAmericans119_PShepherd-33

WildAmericans119_PShepherd-37

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!

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.

 

Deal Casino, A Coffee House and 3200 iso

I was at a loss on how to begin this story. I wanted to talk about a couple of things specifically photography related like how my 7D was cranked to 3200 iso and I was literally terrified by that number, as necessary as it was. My camera is not a big fan of such high numbers. Word has it the new model fairs much, much better with that setting. We shall see, but until then lets just talk about the band I went to see and an early gift.

DealCasino_PShepherd-27

When queuing up HECK, the brand new EP from Deal Casino, the first thing I noticed was the big smile gracing my face from the opening track, Bang Bang Bang. Pumping bass lines, a driving drum track, spirited guitars and killer melodies. Filled with energy and movement. This is their third EP, finally had a chance a couple of weeks ago to see them live and I took it, where have I been?

I am by no means a music reviewer, my stories are told through photographs, so I will leave an official review to the pros, but as a fan, my thoughts are that this quartets latest release cements them even deeper as a member of the hierarchy in the New Jersey Music scene.

Personally, I am more about the feeling of a song rather than a meaning, I do not key in on what is being said, too much room for interpretation. I do however pay very close attention to how it is being said, the progressions, the cadence and the rhythms a song contains.

The second song, Fortyfive, has a most distinct and grungy edge to it,epitomizes the sounds of alternative punk. Downtown is anthemic, (yes it really is!) and Flying Cars takes you on an emotional journey and when it is over you are left, missing, wanting more. So you play the whole thing again. A cycle that just keeps repeating itself.

The official EP Release party will be at the Asbury Lanes on Dec 11th. If you get the chance be sure and take in the show. You will get the EP!

Back to the beginning and this camera thing. I had the chance to check the guys out during a stripped down, acoustic style, electric set at the Revolutionary Lounge in Toms River. Coffee house atmosphere, very intimate setting. My wife told me I should stop serenading the people next to us during the set, so I started capturing some images and doing what I do.

I will be resuming regular programming here for a bit as I have a couple of shoots I want to get done. But I do have a feeling Deal Casino will be a regular topic in these parts, at least until someone gets a hold of them and takes them on the adventure of their lives…

Thanks 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

Cheering some 12,800 iso…

Cheering some 12,800 iso...

Killing time after my sparkplug performed, decided to see exactly what an iso of 12800 would look like. f4, 1/640, 24-105 at 50mm.

And included in the fun, going in reverse order, a shot at 6400, f4, 1/400, 95mm

CheerComp_PShepherd-52As long as I do not have to print anything and all things considered not to bad to look at….just do not zoom in….

See ya soon!

 

 

A Winter’s Growth

For almost a week I have been documenting the bloom of an Amaryllis we received as a gift. The main reason I did this was to gain confidence when utilizing a high iso on my 7D. This camera is not know for it’s high iso capability so for the past year with that fact in my head I was guilty of underexposing images due to the fact that I was scared to go above a setting of 1600. Many times I am unable to use flash and find myself fighting for light.

For those who do not know what iso is, it is an integral part of the exposure triangle which allows more light to reach the cameras sensor. The main drawback is an image that turns out dirty. By this I mean it may have noise or grain showing. Until recently consumer model cameras were incapable of producing acceptable images if the iso was raised. I have been shooting a lot of studio stuff the past few months and dance season is right around the corner. I need to try and establish some further confidence when I need a shutter speed of 1/500 and the only way I can get there is with an iso of 2500+.

So, I set my iso to 2500, aperture to f4 on the trusty 24-105 and varied the shutter speed based on lighting conditions. The only constant light I had was the heating lamp pointing into the dragon tank. Indirect at best. Normally I would turn on the room light, and sometimes the sun came in through the windows.

We had the plant almost three weeks before it began blooming and once it started it was quite cool watching it open. The first hint appeared on Dec 23. I tried to capture an image every 12 hours or so.

12/23 09:18
12/23 09:18 1/40th
12/24 09:35
12/24 09:35 1/80
12/25 10:39
12/25 10:39 1/30
12/25 23:00
12/25 23:00 1/40

During the 26th growth was rapid!

12/26 13:11
12/26 13:11 f8, 1/13
12/26 17:40
12/26 17:40 f8, 1/160
12/26 21:25
12/26 21:25 f8, 1/10
12/26 23:11
12/26 23:11 1/800
12/27 13:28
12/27 13:28 1/200
12/28 00:21
12/28 00:21 1/8th
12/28 19:12
12/28 19:12 1/30
12/29 21:14
12/29 21:14 1/20

LR4 Noise reduction was used to clean them up a bit, but overall I am very happy with the results. If this is any indication then I have been missing out on some very good captures exposure wise. I remember one thing from my boy scout days,sitting around a fire repeating these words until it was figured it out…

o-wa-tana-siam

Mr. 7D you have restored my faith, if you need to raise the iso to get a good exposure, go for it. It’s OK……I should have listened to Jared Polin a long time ago….

Happy New Year!

Thanks for stopping by! Till next time….