This Blog has moved!

•July 14, 2010 • Leave a Comment

I’ve moved all of my blogging and portfolios over to come check it out!


Michael Jackson Tribute concert

•July 12, 2010 • Leave a Comment

I recently got asked to review some concert photos that a fan from Flickr had posted. I noticed that he was shooting at ISO 2000, which gave him noisy and under saturated grayish tones to his photos. I think one myth that people think about shooting concerts is that you have to have the fastest lens so you can shoot at f/1.2-1.8 and 1/250th, or shoot at high ISOs. Not True.

My standard setting for a concert before it even starts is (usually) around ISO 250, f/4 and 1/160 if I’m using my 50mm (which is on the majority of a show).  I’m ALWAYS in manual mode at a concert, (whereas almost any other time I shoot with natural light I’m on Aperture priority).  One of the most important skills you need to getting good concert shots is knowing how to change your camera settings without taking your eye away from the viewfinder. That means being able to change every setting from ISO, to White balance, to aperture and shutter speed.

I am constantly changing settings based upon what I’m seeing on stage. If the light guy is shining bright lights into the audience and there is a chance I’ll get some cool star-bursts I’ll bump the aperture as high as I think I can get it without being underexposed.

In this photo, I noticed the light reflecting off of the sequins on this dancer’s hat.  I took a few shots at different apertures, checked my display, saw that f/5 was giving me a good exposure and still getting a nice star-burst, and then I did a nice burst of about 20 photos while the dancer held this pose at the end of a song.

Michael Jackson Dancer This was taken at ISO 250, f/5, 1/200th

Continue reading ‘Michael Jackson Tribute concert’

Shame on Lonely Planet

•June 14, 2010 • 7 Comments

I got an email from a friend the other day telling me I should submit some photos to a free contest that Lonely Planet is having. Grand Prize? 2 Round the World air tickets! What an amazing deal. Listen to this gushing copy that LP has for it’s readers: “We just sent our 100 millionth guidebook out into the world, and we want to thank you – it wouldn’t be out there if you hadn’t shared our belief in the importance of travel. To celebrate, we’ve created a place for you to share your favourite travel moments. There are some amazing prizes for contributors, so show us your view of the world!”

Wow! Thanks Lonely Planet! I think I’ll submit this photo I took in India that has been a favorite of mine for a while:


Let’s take a look at the fine print to make sure I’m not signing away my copyrights real quick before I hit the submit button. What does it say here?

Once submitted, your entry will not be returned to you.

General licence: Unless you opt-out of this licence by un-ticking the box on the entry page, in return for entering the competition you grant Lonely Planet a worldwide, non-exclusive, irrevocable licence in perpetuity to reproduce, publish, adapt, communicate and broadcast all or part of your entry in any media for the purposes of this competition and inclusion in Lonely Planet branded products and marketing materials, including the right to sublicense.

Limited licence: If you do opt-out of the general licence by un-ticking the box on the entry page, in return for entering the competition you instead grant Lonely Planet a worldwide, non-exclusive, irrevocable licence for two years to reproduce, publish, adapt, communicate and broadcast all or part of your entry in any media for the purpose of this competition.

Please note: If you opt-out and you are later chosen as a finalist, upon your acceptance of the finalist prize and in return for that prize, you grant Lonely Planet the General Licence set out above.

We will use reasonable efforts to attribute you as the creator of your entry where possible, but you consent to us not attributing you if we decide not to. Despite any moral rights that may otherwise apply, you consent to us or our sub-licensees (in exercising any of the rights granted by you above) using, reproducing, editing, publishing or communicating your entry in any form or medium.”

What does all of that mean? It means that Lonely Planet will gain access to thousands of photos from entries in their “competition” that they can then use for ANYTHING they want. Print them in their books, on their website, advertisements… FOREVER! They don’t even have to give you credit! And you, the photographer gets nothing but a chance at a round the world ticket. This is Lonely Planet’s way of building up a bank of photos that they can use forever.  This is their way of never having to pay a photographer again.

Shame on you Lonely Planet. Your already overpriced so called “travel guides” just secured a spot in my boycott line. I strongly suggest all photographers out there not to enter this contest, and all travelers to look elsewhere for travel guides.


•June 1, 2010 • 1 Comment

This past weekend I went to shoot the Delfest in Cumberland, Maryland. Thanks to my editor Martin over at The Waster, I got an “Arts” pass which gave me unrestricted access to move around backstage and onstage without any interruption. This wasn’t my first time backstage at a festival, but it was the most access I’ve ever had. Other than myself, there was only one other photographer backstage most of the time.

There are three keys to shooting backstage and onstage: 1. Act like you’re supposed to be there, 2. Don’t get in the way, 3. Blend in.

Del McCoury and his band allowed me to mingle around with them for about 30 minutes before they took the stage. I did a few portraits, like this:

Del McCoury

Continue reading ‘Delfest’

Using Long Exposure at Concerts

•March 8, 2010 • 2 Comments

My last post was about only getting to shoot for 3 songs. This post is about what you can do when you have more than enough time to shoot from the pit. At the Umphrey’s McGee show a couple weeks ago I asked the security guard at the pit what tonight’s deal was. He said “This is a jamband, who knows how long 3 songs will last, you can shoot the whole first set.” Not a bad deal, made even sweeter when I found out there would only be one other photographer in the pit with me. Lots of space to move around, and plenty of time to shoot. I can’t say this happens often.

So what do you do with all that extra time and space? Get creative! I’ve been wanting to experiment with some longer exposure shots at concerts for a while, but usually can’t waste precious time on shots that might turn out terrible, or at least useless for publication. Why long exposure? Well other than the obvious (the music) one thing that is often lost in the quest for the ultimate sharp image is: movement! Sometimes we photographers are so worried about sharpness that we forget that a little motion blur can add to a photo. When a guitar player is violently attacking a solo, he’s usually not standing still posing for you, he’s moving, and that’s part of the show. So why not include that in some photos now and again? Continue reading ‘Using Long Exposure at Concerts’

3 songs, that’s it.

•February 17, 2010 • 1 Comment

The best thing about having a photo pass for a concert is that it gets your camera and lenses in with no questions. The worst part is you can only be in the pit for 3 songs, and then you’re back into the crowd, but everyone is already crowded up against the rail. This means you have to get creative with your shooting. I shot Galactic and Tea Leaf Green at Terminal 5, which is a great venue because they have 2 balconies. Perfect! After the 3 songs went by incredibly quick, I headed right for the balcony to get some shots from above.

Here’s my favorite shot from the pit while I was shooting Galactic, it’s of Cyrille Neville of the Neville Brothers and The Meters:

Cyril Neville

Continue reading ‘3 songs, that’s it.’

Put down the Camera!

•February 3, 2010 • 5 Comments

Jeff Austin and Al Schnier

Shooting live music is a double edged sword for me. It is my favorite type of photography for a few reasons:

1. I’m a musician, 2.I love music and especially concerts,  and 3. I love the way live music can transfer onto a photo, as if you can almost hear what type of song is being played or what words are being sung.

The down side for me of taking photos at a concert is that when I bring a camera along, all I do is take photos. For example, at the moe. Haiti Benefit concert on Jan 23rd, I took 2,000+ photos. That is absurd. Out of those 2,078 photos, my first go through in Lightroom narrowed it down to a mere 504 decent photos, and after yet another round of cuts I was down to just over 50. From those 50+ I edited 25 in photoshop and posted 6 onto flickr that I was happy with.

Now if i was shooting the show for a client, taking 2,000 photos wouldn’t be so absurd, it might be necessary. But when I’m shooting for pleasure, that means I can’t see the forest for the trees. Of this concert was 2.5 hours, that means I was shooting one frame every 4.5 seconds. The entire concert! I wish someone was there to yell at me to put the camera down and enjoy the show.

Lesson: Sometimes you have to balance pleasure with photography. Limit yourself to 5 shots per song, or just shoot the first 3 songs like the pros in the pit do, and maybe the encore too. Or maybe, and this might sound crazy to digital junkies, take a film camera and only bring 2 rolls of film. That will make you choose your shots more wisely.