On the first day of March, I left an evening engagement early to drive all the way out to George Mason University and shoot Muse for the Post. It was worth the trip: we had to shoot from the back of the venue at floor level, but this turned out to be a close to ideal spot given the scale of Muse’s stage show. The above shot headlined the Post‘s online review of the show, and it kind of tells the story: Muse went BIG, both visually and musically. I would shoot them in Minneapolis a few months later and be sorely disappointed that they, for some reason, dropped the lasers from their visual production.
Another neat concert highlight was getting to see/shoot Inuit throat singer Tanya Tagaq, who performed at National Geographic with two avant-jazz musicians, guitarist G.E. Stinson (Shadowfax, various Cryptogramophone-label projects) and drummer Scott Amendola (Nels Cline Singers, much more). Tagaq had some incredibly powerful moments that more than made up for her rather banal attempts at improvised spoken word poetry, and she was an emotional firecracker onstage, which of course made for some great photos like the above.
It was the non-concert stuff that proved to be the highlights from March, though. I did a promo shoot with Hotspur in Georgetown that was a lot of fun; the above shot was my favorite and was really simple to do: a single speedlight on-axis with a shoot-through umbrella, with the frame exposed for the ceiling lights. Neato.
Also in March – and I suppose this is concert photography of a sort – I covered the annual Shamrock Fest at RFK Stadium, a ridiculous drunk-fest in which young white people (I’m merely making a demographic statement here, nothing more or less) go get really drunk and act really stupid. Unfortunately, the weather was rainy and cold, which seemed to prevent people from acting really dumb, but it was still kind of fun to wander around and see how people would react to having someone point a camera at them. (Hint: the above photo is pretty mild.) There was also some music to be photographed, most of it really bad cover bands (and Train) but with some good stuff mixed in, most notably The Roots.
Since it opened, the U Street Music Hall has been a favorite new venue in DC for dance/electronic music aficionados, with a legendary sound system and a comfortable space in the heart of the U Street area. The Washington City Paper sent me to cover its opening night, but after learning that the venue was permanently closed to all photography during events, I settled for a portrait of the two owners, DJs Will Eastman (left) and Jesse Tittsworth (right). As I explained in a previous post, I lit these guys with a single bare speedlight at high camera right, giving me some nice defined shadows on the floor with the venue’s logo lit up in the background. I took this shot from on top of a tall stepladder that was conveniently sitting in the middle of the floor. The availability of the stepladder was huge: this photo would have been pretty mediocre shot at ground level.
The first and only time I shot Ultimate Frisbee in 2010 was the YHB Invite in March, in Northern Virginia. I just shot one day of the tournament and didn’t come away with any images I’d count as among my best Ultimate photographs, but still had a good time. I also managed to get myself taken out on the sideline, cameras flying everywhere: Kevin Leclaire, my fellow photographer who has really turned his passion for shooting Ultimate into a business, awesomely caught the whole episode on camera. (Yes, the cameras and all humans involved were OK!)
Finally, as the weather started turning nice, I did a great shoot with Crystal, a model in central Virginia, outdoors in a small-town environment. The local train station had some neat features that we used to offset and/or complement Crystal’s strikingly colorful hair, and I put my 35/1.8 DX lens to good use. I love how this lens is so sharp in the middle, and how the sharpness falls off towards the edges not only because of the limited depth of field at f/1.8 but also because of the fact that I’m using the lens on a full-frame camera, and the image circle (and area of optimal image quality) doesn’t extend all the way to the edges.