Archive for August, 2011

Death Cab for Cutie @ Roy Wilkins Auditorium

Saturday, August 27th, 2011

The last time I saw Death Cab for Cutie, it was in 2000 or 2001 at the Cat’s Cradle in Raleigh, NC, on the “Death and Dismemberment Tour” with The Dismemberment Plan. The last time I heard a note of Death Cab music, it was 2003’s Transatlanticism. Needless to say, what with their music appearing on major TV shows like The OC, this indie-rock quartet is a hell of a lot bigger than they were back when I was familiar with them.

The most telling sign of that wasn’t that they attracted a huge crowd to the Roy Wilkins Auditorium. No, it was the fact that they had a photo release to sign. Not a rights-grabber, but still, a bit of an unwelcome surprise. Below are a few of my favorite images from the evening (just here as personal portfolio use, and not on Flickr, thanks to the aforementioned release). Be sure to and like me on Facebook or follow me on Twitter to keep up with my work!

I also enjoyed openers Frightened Rabbit:

Frightened Rabbit

Switching gears: DJ Sophia Lin

Tuesday, August 16th, 2011

DJ Sophia Lin @ Epic Nightclub

I’m more comfortable with a camera in a raging mosh pit than a crowded dance floor; my usual nightlife hangout is a grungy metal club rather than a fancy nightclub. But on Saturday night I shot a club event featuring DJ Sophia Lin. Shooting DJs with stage access is fun; shooting in clubs where people are paying more attention to each other than what’s going on onstage is also pretty fun. Here are a few shots of the performer:

DJ Sophia Lin @ Epic Nightclub

DJ Sophia Lin @ Epic Nightclub

DJ Sophia Lin @ Epic Nightclub

The above is a quick pre-performance portrait I did in a window of about five minutes. I set up a few lights beforehand in a simple configuration: two speedlights with shoot-thru umbrellas camera left (1/16 power) and right (1/32 power), and a single speedlight clamped to the ceiling at 1/128 power as a hair light. After I figured out the lighting, it was simple: put subject in front of lights, press button, portrait made.

Below, a few crowd shots, which of course is really what these events are all about (I was probably focused on the onstage action more than any real nightlife photographer would have been, but that was based on my assignment). There was a little photo background set up that the promoters asked me to use for a meet & greet with the DJ:

DJ Sophia Lin @ Epic Nightclub

DJ Sophia Lin @ Epic Nightclub

DJ Sophia Lin @ Epic Nightclub

Back at it: KMFDM

Saturday, August 13th, 2011

KMFDM

My first full concert shoot since May was industrial stalwarts KMFDM at First Avenue. I’m glad I made it for all three of the openers though, because shooting KMFDM was pretty brutal and all my best shots from the night are of the openers. I’m chalking it up to being a bit out of practice, but KMFDM would have been a tough shoot even if I was totally on my game: there was no frontlight ever, and almost no place on the stage that wasn’t obstructed by either monitors or tall equipment stands. The above is representative of what ended up being the best strategy – zoom in tight for close shots and wait for a burst of backlight or strobe lighting to highlight someone’s face.

Here are a bunch more of my favorite shots from the night. Also be sure to check out the full set at Flickr, and like me on Facebook or follow me on Twitter to keep up with my work!

KMFDM

KMFDM

KMFDM

By far my favorite band to shoot of the night was Italy’s Army of the Universe, who featured an insanely expressive frontman and a guitarist who loved crouching into power stances and slinging his hair around. The light wasn’t great, but it didn’t matter.

Army of the Universe

Army of the Universe

Army of the Universe

I also got a couple shots I’m pretty fond of from openers 16 Volt, who used fog machines and strobes more liberally than any of the other bands:

16 Volt

16 Volt

But my favorite shot of the entire show was actually of the very first opener, Human Factors Lab. Like the other bands they didn’t have much if any frontlight, but their atmospheric lighting was really colorful at times and I took advantage of it in the second shot below. Also, when sparks fly, I take pictures. It’s pretty much a no-brainer.

Human Factors Lab

Human Factors Lab

Full set at Flickr.

Two months in Colombia

Friday, August 12th, 2011

Monserrate

I recently returned from spending two months doing academic research in Colombia. (If you’re interested in what that research was all about, check out my guest post at my friend Dave Algoso’s development blog.) Most of my time was spent in Bogotá, the capital city, conducting interviews and doing book research of primary sources not available in English, in the United States, or online. Bogotá is a pretty nice city in which I generally felt safe, with one exception: whenever I was carrying my camera. So I took very few photos over the past two months. Here are some of the shots I did manage to take. Above is the view of Bogotá from Monserrate, part of the mountain range that forms the eastern limit of the city. (Here’s a panoramic view.)

Rock al Parque

Bogotá

Bogotá

Above: first, a vendor hard at work cooking food at Rock al Parque, South America’s largest outdoor music festival that takes place every year in Bogotá’s Parque Simón Bolivar. Second, a typical street vendor in downtown Bogotá, selling all sorts of random things including cell phone service. Third, a pair of street performers dancing downtown on the date of a major tango competition.

I did make it out of Bogotá for one five or six-day jaunt into the jungle of Urabá, the region of Colombia that borders Panama. This is not exactly a touristy area, as it’s hot and wet and lacks much of any transportation infrastructure (the entire Pacific coast province of Chocó is almost entirely devoid of major roads; instead, residents use rivers for transportation). I was there on a human rights delegation visiting “humanitarian zones” – civilian communities resisting forced displacement at the hands of illegal armed actors and economic developers – and took a bunch of photos in the process. Unfortunately, for reasons of safety and consent I can’t post any photos that depict community members. So here are a few totally random shots I like:

Camelias

Jungle Hike

African Palm

Time to Walk

Predawn in Apartadó

First: a house for guests and accompaniers in the humanitarian zone of Camelias. Second, the “trail” we hiked between two of the zones we visited, after a night of hard rain. Third, remnants of an African palm plantation, which used to proliferate in this area as an export industry, but in recent years have been reclaimed by residents after massive negative PR for palm oil companies. Fourth, our means of transportation on one of the few available roads breaks down, forcing us to walk past a huge military encampment to the nearest town. And lastly, predawn in the town of Apartadó, which has the nearest airport.

A few more shots at this set on Flickr.