Archive for August, 2008

Before we get into the Olympics

Friday, August 29th, 2008

Salome 7

I saw a great show before I went to Beijing that I forgot to post about. I’ve written it up already at Black Plastic Bag, but I wanted to share some photos that I’m very happy with.

This was a metal show at DC9, with very challenging lighting: completely static, with a bright spot in the middle of the stage and everything else extremely dim. My options were thus pretty limited – I could get good shots of one member of each band than played and almost nothing of anyone else. I pumped up the ISO and converted almost all my photos to black & white (since I find the additional noise far less objectionable in black & white than in color), and managed to come away with some stuff I like.

The first band, Salome (pictured above and below), was a band I wasn’t familiar with but that really caught my ear. Crushing, mean doom metal with a vocalist who stands about five feet tall but growls and screams with the best of them (she also does vocals for Agoraphobic Nosebleed):

Day 223: Salome

The next was Behold… the Arctopus, an extremely technical band who emphasize ridiculous musicianship above all else, but who in recent years have managed to pen some decent compositions. These guys were REALLY fun to shoot as they were all over the place, particularly their Warr guitarist, who in addition to having a very distinctive-looking instrument also sports a very distinctive hairstyle. It all makes for interesting photos, although it was a hell of a challenge maintaining a shutter speed fast enough to come anywhere close to freezing the action.

Behold... the Arctopus 4

Behold... the Arctopus 3

The third band, Intronaut, was much less photogenic than the previous two bands, mostly standing still without much change in facial expression. But their music rocked, so I shot the first couple songs and then put the camera away to just listen. Left after them even though a final band, Mouth of the Architect, was still on the bill – I was just too tired.

Full set of photos here.

Anyway, it was fun times and the last show I shot; can’t wait to get back into it. It’s been about 2 and a half weeks and I’m itching to shoot some more live music. I get my chance tonight when Secret Oyster, an old Danish fusion group, hit Orion Sound Studios. Hopefully I can get over my jet lag and make it up there.

I went to the Olympics

Friday, August 29th, 2008


And I took lots of pictures.

So many that I haven’t made a dent on processing them yet even though I got back 5 days ago. (Well, my ongoing and heretofore losing effort against jet lag has something to do with that.) I have a few up at Flickr, but there’s much more to come.

As I get the photos up, I will also be blogging about each day spent in big, crowded, sweaty Beijing. There’s a lot to talk about so get excited!

The power of post-processing

Thursday, August 7th, 2008

The image above is straight out of the camera. Hover your mouse over the image to see what it looks like after post-processing. (Sorry, if you’re reading this post in a feed reader, you have to visit the actual site for this to work.)

What I saw “in real life” is somewhere between the two: with the settings I use, my D300 tends to capture images that are somewhat low in contrast and “punch.” In Photoshop, I pumped up the contrast and, to a lesser extent, the saturation, taking an incredibly boring photo and turning into something much, much more dramatic. It’s still not a great photo by any means, but it illustrates how simple levels/curves tweaks can go a long way.

Pleasant surprises

Monday, August 4th, 2008

Day 213: Do not pass

They say that photographers are seldom pleasantly surprised when looking through recently developed/downloaded photos. If you know what you’re doing, the idea goes, you know when you’ve gotten a great shot. You might be disappointed when you find out it’s not as great as you first thought (or it’s not as great as it looked on that tiny LCD on the back of your camera), but it seldom works the other way around.

The above photo is the closest I’ve come to an exception to this rule. I had the random idea, looking at my sideview mirror, that it would be cool if I could get the double yellow lines on the road and in the mirror to line up. I was stopped at a light and had a couple seconds, so I craned my camera out the window and tried to get the lines, well, in line. I failed miserably. Oh well.

Then when I looked at the shot after the fact, I realized that the discontinuous lines – including the reflected lines on the body of the car – made for a much more compelling composition anyway. Granted, the photo needed some post-processing (cropping, serious curves tweaking for contrast, and desaturating all the channels except the yellow) to make it what it is, but I’ve come to accept that as normal.

Oh, and the one circumstance that I feel “pleasant surprises” happen: catchflash in concerts. There’s just no predicting when you might catch someone else’s flash, giving you a perfect amount of clean white light to balance out the dim, colored washes. It’s only happened to me a couple times, but one of those times it produced a photo that I use on my business cards.