Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Aria's Birthday

We celebrated Aria's birthday a little early and threw in a Father's Day celebration for good measure. I took the opportunity to do some more testing with my new Petzval lens. You can see the round bokeh effect in the photo above. As always it was great to spend a day with family. I won't say it was relaxing because even Hannah is on the move at all times now.

Hannah saying hi to Reba.

Sebastian did his best to hide out.

Aria and Grace laughing as they dry off from the pool.

James' blue eyes always pop with the pool water.

Grandma Born was hoping to get a picture with Hannah without her hand in her mouth, so of course Hannah stuck them right in. Little punk.

Aria gathering flowers, again with the Petzval.

James in his tree fort, showing a slightly different bokeh effect. I went up an aperture plate so the effect wasn't overwhelming. What I liked about this is that enough of the foreground stayed in focus while the more distant leaves and trees still swirled.

My nephew has always been fond of taking pictures and when he saw the cool brass lens, he wanted to try it out. I'm only slightly insane for letting a not yet 7 year old hold a 5D Mark III and brand new lens, but he was super careful with it and managed to take this shot of his tire swing. Not bad, James!

As always, I tried for an updated family shot, but trying to get 4 kids to pay attention to one person is near impossible. The top picture is the best I got, the one below just cracks me up. James looks so disinterested while Aria and Hannah are making faces.

Just before cutting the cake, James read us a book that the cake was based off of.  Hannah could not be contained, despite Pappi's best efforts.

FYI, James is already an excellent reader.

Jimmy's cakes never fail to impress. This year he made a carrot cake along with Creepy Carrot toppers!

Aria was thrilled with the latest creation.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Eels at the Apollo Theater, NY 06.01.14

Every time the Eels announce a tour, I get excited. I know they're going to bring something new and different to the table. Eels Live in Concert is a sit down show, with the band members hopping between a plethora of instruments: piano, melodica, guitars, trumpet, flugal horn, bells, timpani, slide guitar, triangle, etc etc. The guys are dressed in tailored suits of greys and blues, ties and fancy shoes. It was the first time I've seen Knuckles wear glasses and P-Boo lacking them. The newest member of the Al clan, Upright Al, was a welcome addition, playing some serious jazz and a bow on the upright bass.

It was the first time that I didn't have to arrive at the venue several hours early to get a good position, which was also a welcomed change. I got to meet up with a new Eels fan from tumblr and my other blogging buddy ended up seated diagonally from me two rows up. I couldn't have asked for more. All of the issues I had with the production on the new album, The Cautionary Tales of Mark Oliver Everett, were not present live. E's voice sounded clear and strong, most likely from a lack of nightly howling, the audience was attentive, yet respectful. When E asked for extra applause before the My Timing Is Off because his inspiration was in the audience that night, the crowd rose to their feet for a very early standing ovation. And the Apollo Theater? Beautiful, comfortable, amazing acoustics, awesome staff. E joked that this was the whitest show the Apollo had ever seen. Their "too funky" rendition of A Daisy Through Concrete resulted in a malfunction on The Chet's guitar set up, so they did a quick band intro. The Chet busted out a triangle solo seeing how it was the only instrument within reach that would work.

I was incredibly impressed with P-Boo, the newest, regular member of the band. He sounded much more confident on brass this tour and even jumped over to the piano for Gentlemen's Choice. I was thrilled to hear so many different songs; I felt like we were getting a lot of repeats with the rock shows of late. My personal favorites were: In the Morning with Knuckles on timpani, the jazzy A Daisy Through Concrete, the impressive harmonies during My Beloved Monster, a lovely version of Last Stop This Town which is the song that first hooked me, and the incredible transition between Mistakes of My Youth into the chorus of Wonderful Glorious. For a few bars, it sounded so much like the Beatles, I thought it was going to be a cover.

The night ended with two covers: Elvis' Can't Help Falling In Love and Nilsson's Turn Off Your Radio. A fan was so excited for the latter song, they started clapping along vigorously. E made eye contact, gave a simple shake of his head and the fan instantly stopped. That respect was such a drastic turn from what I experienced last year in New York.

As far as the pictures are concerned, no, I did not have a press pass. These were shot with the EOS M, my pancake 40 and 85 1.8. I've gotten much more comfortable with manually focusing as a result of the daily photo challenge I've taken on this year. When I'm there as a fan and shooting from my seat, I don't want to disturb anyone else with focus beams coming from the camera. While I was hoping for a press pass this year, I wasn't slighted because there were no photographers in attendance. Maybe one year, I'll be lucky enough to have my full gear with me or maybe I won't. I'll still go out of my way to see this band, year after year.