Though it’s only been a few days since we moved into the new Condo, I’ve quickly taken advantage of the roof deck, the amazing views, and floor to ceiling windows. As the credits were still rolling on a rather inspiring art doc. I mounted my camera, set my ISO to 200 with an f.9 at 30 seconds. Though I shot this through the window. Surprisingly, and perhaps due to the absence of a flash, had no glare. Prior to our move earlier this week, I had been using my camera sparingly. Perhaps the move and the new surroundings will warrant more use.
A few weeks back I had the chance to catch one of my favorite local bands Archie Alone play a free set at WPCS. The radio station was filled with energy, youth and one out of place old guy (me). As with any event of venue. The room presented it’s share of challenges when it came to shooting. A rather small room where I was inches from the band and cinderblock walls that returned a heavy shadow when I used my flash. Making it worse, I accidentally brought my 28-135 lens as opposed of my 15mm fisheye. After making a few adjustments and coming to the realization, I was just there to listen to some music. I managed to get some usable images of singer Nicole Mesce for an upcoming interview with the band. Though I’ve improved my overall clumsiness in recent years. I still manage to pull off boner moves such as not checking my camera bag on the way out. At least I made it home without losing my lens cap. Until the next time…
After months of toiling and tweaking I’ve launched a new WIX site that focuses on my music photography. It features live and studio work with numerous bands and musicians. Be sure to stop by and visit. Thanks
Though I would love to shoot all my concert photos without the distraction of flash the lens I normally use (Canon 15mm Wide USM) simply does not give me the speed I need to get the sharpness a lot of my work requires. A couple of years back I did a little research and found that Canons 50mm 1.4 had the speed I needed to get the job done. However, the fact that the bulk of my concert shots are taken in small to medium venues made for a lot of really tight shots. In bars and taverns such as Maxwells those tight crops were more like head shots.
So over the past weeks I did my share of tests with both the Canon 50mm 1.4 and the Canon 15mm Wide Angle USM. Shooting on Manual Mode and changing the settings to adjust to the light I was able to produce some interesting results. While using the wide angle approach I was able to get right in the eye of the storm and get some interesting and artistic results. Though most were blurred and disposable, I did find some keepers amongst the ruins. The next night I played around with the 50mm 1.4 and though I was able to get crisp image after crisp image, the distance from which I shot made me feel more like a bystander. There was really no comparing as far as I was concerned. Although shooting without flash adds a sense of intimacy and storytelling to my images. I felt the wide angle clearly gave me a the exaggerated vibe I want in my work. It gave me a sense that I was right in the middle of the action as opposed to the bystander element that the former produced. I’d love to hear from other concert photographers about their experiences and approach. I’m always looking to experiment and try different things as I move towards creating my own style. I look forward to the challenge.
Considering how much concert photography has dominated my life as of late. I thought I’d take a moment to post some recent images I shot at what has become my home away from homes, Maxwell’s. While I’m here I might as well plug the blog and website I’ve been spending so much free and not so free time working on.
In the last year or so I’ve seen a lot of evolution in regards to my concert photography. Part of that can be traced to my purchase of the Canon 15mm wide angle lens. The shots I’ve taken with it have been my best by far. Though it requires me to get a lot closer and in the grill of some of the musicians it has helped to really feel the music on an entirely different level. I no longer a bystander. I’m right in the cage with the lions. Whether or not I get eaten up is up for grabs. I do however feel I’ve carved out my corner there. I feel that I’m getting more and more positive feedback lately ad it feels good.
All the Concert Photography you could possibly stand. http://www.damionphoto.com/Music/About.html
I started United By Rocket Science with my friend Dave back in May and have enjoyed every minute of it. Both Dave and Me have seperate blogs/sites that, at the time, weren’t giving us a lot of inspiration to work on. Combining forces really gave us the kick in the ass we needed. Since we started we’ve been focused on doing reviews, interviews and covering local music to our best ability. It’s been a blast exploring the vastness of the music coming out of the basements and beer halls of the tri-state and beyond. Check us out and help spread the word.
One more Music Blog can save the world. http://unitedbyrocketscience.blogspot.com/
After a long day of good food and gallery hopping in Chinatown, SOHO and The Lower East Side we began to head West on Houston to catch the Path Train back to Hoboken. Stopping here and there to check out some of the artisans that sell their gear in front of that church I came upon one particularly interesting table. The man and his wife were selling these intriguing artifacts they cleverly restored and made into jewelry. As I listened to the man explain the background and process to an interested party I started to set up my camera to sneak a shot of this very interesting looking gentleman. I could have pulled it off without him noticing but would I get a really honest telling shot? I got over my shyness and began an interesting conversation with Scott. I then asked him nicely if I could take a picture of him. He obliged and I left with both a story and a picture. You can check out some of Scott’s work at www.newyorkartifactart.com I’m sure you’ll be impressed.
Fall of the Albatross proved to me once again to never judge a book by it’s cover. I was about to head out when the band began to set up their equiptment on stage. Their singer immediately caught my attention. Not exactly the type of guy your used to seeing at a Metal show. Something about his look and personality reminded me of Keenan Thompson from SNL. There was definitely a charm about him. As the band started to play I was immediately reminded of Living Color (That is in a good way) Tight musianship and damn did this kid have some major singing chops. His range matched with the bands precision and ability to put their unique stamp on any style or genre were amazing.The band hails from Jamaica Queens which is a short distance from where I grew up so it immediately felt like I was supporting the home team. Basically, I was blown away. This was a great example of why you should always get to the show early and leave late. Make sure you give every band a chance and don’t be afraid to say hello after. Tell them you enjoyed their set.
On Sunday the 17th I l headed South on the NJ Turnpike to New Brunswick for brunch and an Punk show at the legendary Court Tavern, We swept into town super early and did a little (actually, very little) exploring before grabbing a bite around the corner. All ages matinees are a rarity at the Court Tavern but Shannon Perez more than made it work. Instead of having the show downstairs or even in the back where numerous minors would be passing the temptation of the bar she had it in a small room just off to the side of the front door. (No one would even get as far as the bar.) The show opened with a five piece from Maplewood called Polyphony (more on them in my next post) and followed with Shannon’s band Hope You Die before making way for Four Fingers.
Four Fingers is a band I interviewed a little over a year ago and have kept in contact with since. I can’t think of a better group of guys to throw your support to. Their style reminds me a lot of Adrenalin O.D. with some Blag Flag and Stooges thrown in for good measure. Tohm puts 125% of himself into every performance. Always making the crowd feel involved and injected into the music. I think a lot of that leads to his many performance injuries which again makes me think of the Stooges. This performance was the tightest I’ve seen them and to give Tohm proper credit, he didn’t injure himself or any one else for that matter. Chris reminds me a lot of Animal on the Muppet Show. Pounding away on the drums with wild abandon. I’ve never seen any one get so close the the skins while he was pounding them. Be sure to keep your fingers away from his mouth. Ryan, the newest member has fit in well and seems to be the glue they’ve needed all along. Then there’s Jeff. He seems like the calm within the storm but his guitar playing is a sickness there seems to be no vaccine for. Check them out if you get the chance.
As I was walking in to The Court Taverns side room where Sundays all ages matinee was being held I was asked “Are you straightedge?” by a complete stranger. The question so caught me off guard. It felt as if I was just ambushed by the prize patrol and only the correct answer would give me a chance to hold the ridiculously over sized check. My first thought was “Maybe he recognized me from a show or affiliation with some older straight edge bands.” But somehow the question and the fact that it came from this complete stranger set me off or at least put me on, for lack of a better word, edge. I dryly asked “That’s the way you address a complete stranger?” “What the hell kind of question is that?” The exchange quickly ended and I moved to the bar to have a screwdriver. Later, after the show he told me he was doing a paper and if I had any knowledge or experience on the subject he’s like to ask me some questions. When I found out he was also interviewing Tohm from Four Fingers I said “Why Not” As we waited outside after the show I kept thinking this dude was off. Not a bad guy at all but at the very least, squirrely. We stood outside and spoke for a few before heading to the local Dunkin’ Donuts for what turned out to be one of the weirdest interviews I’ve ever sat in on. Everything about it from the pre-prepared questions to the robotic delivery and request that we each answer the questions individually without any one speaking at the same time. I found Tohms answers to be very intriguing and honest and I learned more about someone who is becoming more and more of a friend. His friend Dana who tagged along also answered the questions thoughtfully and honestly all while listening to everyone’s answers intently and making some of the most direct and intuitive eye contact I’ve ever seen. Excellent, considering she herself is a Journalism student. All in all the interviewer was very nervous and anxious. Never giving an ounce of his own experience to the process. It seemed as if he just spun a roulette wheel and picked whatever topic the dice landed on. It made me think of how awkward I must have seemed doing interviews for my first zine when I was fifteen. Regardless of the weirdness of those exchanges I got to meet some new people including Dana and had a story to tell when I got home.
I’ve been researching a lens best suited for concert photography for more than a year now. In the past I never really considered using different lens for concerts but a number of things eventually factored in to my decision to at least look into the idea. In the past I’ve pretty much used the same lenses for various jobs. Since going digital I’ve owned or wordek with the Canon 10 D, 20 D, 50 D and currently work with the 7 D. My primary lenses have been the Canon 28-105 and Canon 28-135. I’ve also used the 70-200. After a few years of focusing on Portraiture I found myself shooting more and more concerts and events. At first my goal was to find a fast lens I could use in low light and in situations that prohibited flash photography. After months of research, most of which suggested the Canon 50mm USM I convinced myself to give it a try.After shooting my first couple of shows with it at Maxwells I noticed a tremendous difference in my work. Working without flash added new depth to my work and people were taking notice. The problem was the 50mm called for really tight shots at the smaller clubs and bars I was used to working in. Most of the time I’m shooting I’m inches from the stage, mere feet from my subject. The photographers and photographs that always inspired me were the ones that depicted exaggerated wide angle views. Capturing not only the band but the emotion, feel and energy of the crowd. I know I wanted a wide angle lens but had no experience or knowledge there of. So one morning I decided to ask the best concert photographer I know, Ken Salerno. So I went to my facebook page and sent Ken a quick ask. Ken’s reply was more than I needed. He not only recommended a great lens but also gave me insight into why he is such an amazing artist. With a head full of knowledge I raced to B&H and met up with my favorite salesperson. When I mentioned the “Salerno Recommended” Canon 15mm Fisheye lens and what I’d be primarily using it for he looked up and gave me a rave review telling me he had recently shot a Matisyahu concert with it in L.A. I was sold and couldn’t wait to use it. Though I shot a bunch of images of it at home that night my first assignment came later that week when I shot some images for an article for NJ.com. Below is a shot I took at Northern Soul in Hoboken the night I was shooting for NJ.com.
Side note; Upon buying the lens I was told to be careful of the glass and it’s fragile nature. Aside from the shots I took for NJ.com I’ve used it at two shows and found it to be nothing but amazing. It’s lightweight and gets great wide views. I’ve been getting within breathing distance of artists getting nice wide ranges and I’ve been able to capture the bands interaction with the crowd. I’ve also found it to be very useful shooting landscape and exaggerated portraits. My one and only issue is that I cannot go full wide with my Canon 7 D. Thus making me think I might eventually move to the 5 D.