Sunday, September 30, 2012

Photo of the Week: Week 39

This week, I'm featuring one of my first successful Impossible shots! This is a Polaroid picture of Wally De Backer, aka Gotye, taken with my newly resurrected SX-70 foldable Polaroid camera. It was shot on PX100 silver shade film with a flashbar I'm pretty sure is older than I am, exposure wheel set to 2/3rds dark.

Not only was I fortunate enough to have been given a photo pass from Wally, I was also able to meet the band after the concert. He gave me one of his best amused, raised eyebrow smiles. The flashbar is pretty intense; sorry about that, Wally!

Before the concert, I went to the Impossible Project Space in New York and spent a good half hour discussing my previous results and getting advice from one of the sales associates, Abigail. I can't thank her enough for all of the tricks and tips she taught me. After the quick lesson, I took my first two properly exposed Impossible pictures.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Gotye Preview

There's been absolutely no time for me to process the pictures I shot of Gotye from Radio City Music Hall. After 2 hours of sleep Tuesday night, I worked an 11 hour day at the paper and knew better than to even sit in front of my computer to work on these. I had fresh eyes this morning, so I did a quick processing job on a few pictures to tide you over.

I plan on doing multiple posts next week on the whole experience and pictures. Wally actually asked me to shoot again tonight in Williamsburg, so I will have a plethora of shots to share.

More soon!

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

The Final Days of Six Flags Wild Safari

Six Flags Wild Safari is closing at the end of September. When it reopens next year, visitors will no longer be able to drive their own cars. I'm not sure if they're going to set up a trolley, bus system or cars being driver by trained keepers. My brothers and I decided we needed to experience this one more time and share that with their kids. We rented a mini van with the additional insurance, just in case. I even managed to snap a few decent pictures through the closed windows.

We were lucky enough to be in front of a couple of rule breakers. The ostriches gobbled up an entire loaf of bread.

Grace loves the elephants. Below is her reaction.

This little peacock was sleeping right next to the road.

The whooping cranes provided much more entertainment than ever expected. You can see them on the move in this photo. We were stuck at this spot for a good 10 minutes as all three cranes pecked at the bumper of our van. James tried to get his father to beep the horn; such a little trouble maker!

Instead, my brother flashed his high beams. The picture below is the closest thing you'll see to whooping crane stink eye.

It turns out, the cranes were pecking at all the squashed bugs on the bumper we collected on the ride to New Jersey.

The zebras got fairly close to us.


The best part of the safari, which lasted about an hour and a half, was this little devil. A young giraffe came over and stopped traffic. It proceeded to attack the roof rack of the SUV next to us. The face of the woman in that car was absolutely priceless. She kept banging on her car window to get the giraffe to stop. Eventually, keepers shooed it away.

I was lucky enough to catch the male lion pop his head up.

Check out the teeth on that guy!

Herons in Milford never let me get that close and usually fly away as soon as they see the focus assist beam on my camera. The animals at the safari had the opposite reaction. When they saw the red light, they focused on me.

Grizzly playing with a stick. I thought it sorta looked like a mustache. Hipster Grizzly.

Sexy 'roo posing for the ladies. I don't even know if my brothers saw this guy chilling in the shade. Typical Aussie...

The white Bengal tiger was pacing his cage.

Sadly, the baboons are now kept behind a fence. It was so much more fun when they were able to climb on top of cars and rip side mirrors off. Looks like they miss the action just as much.

Thanks to my big brother for driving and my other big brother for letting me crash in the Bronx the entire weekend. I think you can see that we all had a blast.

**For those anxiously awaiting Gotye concert pictures, I'm shooting for early next week. I got home around 3 in the morning and downloaded the pictures, but my eyes were so shot, I wasn't going to attempt processing.**

Monday, September 24, 2012

Gotye Week

It's Gotye week in the Northeast! Tonight, you can view the band Live on Letterman. Tomorrow is a show at Radio City Music Hall. Wednesday they'll be up at Mohegan Sun. Thursday they're hitting up Williamsburg Park. If you don't have the opportunity or means to make it to one of these shows, check out the online performance. I'll be interested to see how they handle all the visuals in a studio space.

I've also included a brilliant interview for you guys to check out. Jian Ghomeshi, of Moxy Fruvous fame, sat down with Wally and asked tons of great questions. What's wonderful about this interview is that Jian really understands music and how much work Wally puts into his music. I always get a kick out of seeing two very disparate artists that I'm a fan of interact.

I'm really looking forward to my trip into the city tomorrow. I plan on hitting up The Impossible Project Studio Space in NY before the show. I need to stock up on some film and get advice on what's happened with my test shots to this point. I'm not going to lie, the film lives up to its name. After that, I should have time to stop at one of my favorite eateries in all of New York: Empanada Mama. Then it's off to Radio City Music Hall. I've never been inside before, so I'm very excited for that experience. Seeing one of my favorite artists perform there is just icing on the cake.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Photo of the Week: Week 38

This is a family portrait from Six Flags Wild Safari. Our rental van had a great mirror in it that let the driver see the entire car. If you look closely, I'm even in it, all the way in the back.

Thanks to my brothers, nephew and niece for a great time!

Now to some unfortunate news. Those that follow me on my other social media outlets already know, as I announced my disappointment as soon as I heard, the Michael Bolton concert I was supposed to cover last night was canceled. Inclement weather and slow ticket sales would have caused the town of Trumbull to suffer massive losses. You can read the story we ran in the paper here.

I don't want you to think that I'm massively upset about not getting to see Michael Bolton perform; although I had big plans for a gag gift from a picture I would have taken. I want to be shooting as much as possible, regardless of who is performing. In fact, I think it's more difficult to get powerful images from music I'm not particularly fond of as opposed to a band that I love.

To help ease the pain of the lack of Michael Bolton pictures on this blog, I bring you this video. I think it mirrors my sentiments exactly. I hope it's enough. There's still another big surprise I have in store for you, so keep checking in!

Friday, September 21, 2012

Eytan and the Embassy and the Pyyramids at the Knitting Factory 09.15.12

Eytan and the Embassy are a Brooklyn based band, with Eytan Oren on lead vocals, keys and even cowbell, Caitlin Gray on bass, Geoff Countryman on baritone sax, drummer Attis Clopton and guitarist Anthony Rubbo. I stumbled across their video for the song Everything Changes one sleepless night and was intrigued. When I listened to their album on Spotify, I became hooked. Admittedly, I am really, really bad at classifying music. I tend to break it down into two categories: Music I like and Music I don't like. Eytan and the Embassy, in case you can't tell, falls into the Music I like category. It's a mixture of pop with more than a healthy dash of brass, and being a former band geek, I can't get enough of brass. I can hear lots of musical influences. The piano break down at the end of No Reason To Cry recalls Lady Madonna by the Beatles, Good Morning Marilyn sounds like something the Zombies could have written. Eytan's voice at times reminds me of Elvis Costello. Through it all there is strong song writing.

Clearly, I'm a supporter of this band and urge you all to listen. I've thrown a handful of their songs into the playlist over on the right to get you started. I want you to have a look at the pictures without too much from me. If you're interested in hearing how this all came about, hit up the end of the blog post.

The Pyyramids started the night and got the crowd moving early. They are a collaboration between OK Go's Tim Nordwind and singer Drea Smith. Check out their website for more information here. I was really focused on checking my levels and working around the lovely magenta light pouring onto the stage to give you a fair review on the music, but I was into it.

Drea Smith on lead vocals.

Tim Nordwind on guitar and backing vocals.

The Embassy filled out the rest of the band for The Pyyramids.

Fans Tom and Geri enjoying the show. Turns out Tom and I are from the same town and even went to the same high school, 16 years apart. Pretty surreal to bump into someone in Brooklyn that grew up in the same neighborhood as I did.

Eytan and Geoff checking out the opening act. What I really liked about the Knitting Factory was how laid back it was. Band members were out in the audience the entire night and you could strike up a conversation with them at any point.

Another rocking shot of The Pyyramids and of course, shoes.

Eytan and the Embassy played a solid set which covered all but two of the tracks off their 2011 album, The Perfect Break Up, mixing in a few slower songs with the majority of up tempo tunes. I'll be honest with you, when I'm shooting, I'm a horrible concert reviewer. I'm paying attention to so much visually and trying to capture that energy. I'll save you from too much interjection and let the pictures speak for themselves.

Eytan had an undeniably strong stage presence. This show was the last of an East Coast tour, and the entire band felt confident and comfortable.

The Knitting Factory filled up with fans quite nicely. I really liked the intimacy of the venue, yet it never felt crowded. I was able to move freely around the crowd to change up angles.

Bassist Caitlin Gray.

Attis Clopton is the happiest drummer in the entire world. I thought I was being all subtle as I ducked around the crowd to get a clear shot of him, but he was on to me the whole time. I always look out for the drummers; they're the heartbeat of the band and never get enough pictures.

I'd like to take a minute and point out that Geoff Countryman is rocking a bass clarinet. If I wasn't already a fan of the band, that moment would've sold me.

Although I liked the right side of the stage for close ups, I moved to the front in order to get some nice signage and full band shots.

Guitarist Anthony Rubbo, Geoff and Eytan.

From Now On

I shot video on the DSLR for the first time at a concert. I'd like to point out right away that I am by no means a videographer, as you can tell from my shaky pan to the audience. It's so hard for me to stop taking pictures for an entire song, especially when I have my full gear at a venue. I waited until the second to last song of the night because the last song always results in the best pictures.

They closed the night with Everything Changes. This song, along with having a video that is on the brink of going viral, is full of energy and it was easy to capture.

I chose this picture as my photo of the week because I absolutely love the interaction with the fans. It's one thing to photograph a band having fun, but I also want to show how others are enjoying it. I couldn't ask for a better reaction. Everyone in the Knitting Factory was dancing and singing along with the band at this point. As much as I love the fan shot, the next picture is my favorite. That's the kind of intensity the band had the entire night and that's what I you to take away from these pictures.

Set List:
• No Reason To Cry
• The Good Life
• The Perfect Break-Up
• Waiting
• Good Morning Marilyn
• Almost Free
• Do It For Me
• Queen Bee
• From Now On
• Everything Changes

Words cannot describe how incredible the entire experience was for me. My regular readers know that I'm a photographer and graphic designer for a local weekly newspaper company in Connecticut. It's always been my dream to be a concert photographer and in the past year I've worked really hard to make that dream a reality. I've been able to shoot concerts that are in our coverage area, but it's not really something that this company focuses on. Like many of the artists I take pictures of, I'm struggling to find my way, and more often than not, it's discouraging. It's pretty frustrating to be good at what you do, yet have no way to move forward. But every now and then, I reach out to the right people and have the opportunity to do something I truly love.

A month ago, I was turned down to shoot this concert in an official capacity and I fully expected to just attend as a fan. I was driving to work with my iPod on shuffle when Everything Changes came on and I really listened to the lyrics. The song is about reinventing yourself and taking chances, which pretty much fits in perfectly with the path I'm on. "Are you ready to quit? Are you out? Is this it? Well we all take a hit, but we keep on fighting." And as I shouted along to the lyrics, which I often do in the car, I swear I must look mad to the other drivers on the road, I thought, No, I'm not giving up. So what if one person says no? What have I got to lose? I reached out to the band, and you know what? The band responded.

I am eternally grateful for any opportunity to do what I love, especially for a band that I am a fan of. I probably thanked Eytan a dozen times when I spoke to him after the show. I get horribly tongue tied and wanted to make sure he knew just appreciative I was; to the point it might have been all I actually said. I don't exactly remember. The best I can do in return for anyone that generous to me is to spread the word. Expect a lot more updates on this band and check them out. I promise you will find something that you like.
As always, I'll close out the set with shoes.