Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Las Vegas Concert Photography: Volbeat

What do you get when you mix Elvis, Social Distortion, Metallica, and Johnny Cash?  Quite simply, one of my new favorite bands—Volbeat!  If you're a fan of any of the above mentioned talents and have not hear of Volbeat, launch your favorite music listening app (after you're done reading this post) and search for Volbeat.  You will NOT be disappointed.  And should you be presented with the opportunity to see this band perform live, run—do not walk—to the ticket counter!  If you like their recorded music, you'll LOVE the their live performance.

For the full music review, head on over to FullMetalRock.com!

Pic from the show below.


Volbeat performs at the House of Blues in Mandalay Bay
Volbeat performs at the House of Blues in Mandalay Bay


Volbeat performs at the House of Blues in Mandalay Bay
Volbeat performs at the House of Blues in Mandalay Bay


Volbeat performs at the House of Blues in Mandalay Bay
Volbeat performs at the House of Blues in Mandalay Bay

I love hearing from my readers.   You can follow me on Twitter or use the "Contact" button to get in touch, so feel free to send me your comments and let me know if you have any suggestions.  Please visit my the concert section of my website to see these and additional photos from all the shows.

Monday, July 30, 2012

Las Vegas Concert Photography: Nikon D4, meet Death Metal!

Cannibal Corpse recently took the stage at the House of Blues here in Las Vegas as part of the Summer Slaughter Tour.  Unless you're a fan of extremely hard death metal music, you've probably never heard of Cannibal Corpse.  Death Metal is NOT in my iTunes library, so I had no clue who these guys were. Needless to say, they live up to their name.  If, for a brief second, you're able to catch any of their lyrics, you'll begin to understand.

In between the growling and guttural vocals there's a lot of guitar action accompanied by plenty of head banging and hair thrashing.  From a photographic perspective, this is the part I found interesting.  The stage was flooded with alternating reds, greens, and blues, but not a single spotlight.  This type of lighting is the most challenging simply because it doesn't really affect the ambient enough.  I had my ISO set at 3200 and probably should have gone to 6400 simply due to how dim the stage was.  


After trying numerous times, unsuccessfully, to capture an adequate still of some hair whipping through the air, I decided to break out the heavy ammo.  I turned the dial on my Nikon D4 to CH (11 FPS baby!) and began to fire away.  I knew at that rate, I'd definitely capture the type of image I was looking for.  Sure enough, success!  Shooting at that high a rate, I also had the added benefit of being able to capture a few images lit nicely by flash coming from the crowd.  After a few bursts, knowing I had the pictures I wanted, I left the photo pit and headed to the back of the house for a few different perspectives.


Pics from the show below.  Click on any image to view the full gallery.


Cannibal Corpse performs at the House of Blues
Cannibal Corpse performs at The House of Blues in Mandalay Bay



Cannibal Corpse performs at the House of Blues
Cannibal Corpse performs at The House of Blues in Mandalay Bay


Cannibal Corpse performs at the House of Blues
Cannibal Corpse performs at The House of Blues in Mandalay Bay


I love hearing from my readers.   You can follow me on Twitter or use the "Contact" button to get in touch, so feel free to send me your comments and let me know if you have any suggestions.  Please visit my the concert section of my website to see these and additional photos from all the shows.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Las Vegas Concert Photography: Warrant and Skid Row Take Over Fremont Street

Do you remember the 80's metal hair bands Skid Row and Warrant?  Believe it or not, both of these groups are still around and rocking out.  Both bands still have most of the original members, but both also have a new lead singer; Skid Row ousted front-man Sebastian Bach, replacing him with Johnny Solinger, while Warrant chose Robert Mason after the untimely demise of Jani Lane in 2011.  


For someone listened to these two bands while growing up, it's hard to picture anyone other than Sebastian Bach and Jani Lane belting out the lyrics, but both Solinger and Mason have both stepped up and helped drive their respective bands in a new direction.  As a matter of fact, if you never saw these bands perform with their original lead singer, or maybe only heard them a few times on the radio, you'd probably think that Solinger and Mason have always been the front-men.   


Recently, both bands took the 1st Street Stage on Fremont Street for the Rock of Vegas summer concert series.  Both bands revisited their hits from the late 80's that made them famous--Warrant ending their set with" Cherry Pie", and Skid Row closing out with "Youth Gone Wild."   Needless to say, the show rocked.  It was loud.  It was hard rock music.  And the crowd loved it!


Pics from the show below.  Click on any image to be taken to the full gallery.




Warrant performs on the 1st Street Stage at the Fremont Experience
Warrant performs on the 1st Street Stage at the Fremont Experience


Warrant performs on the 1st Street Stage at the Fremont Experience
Warrant performs on the 1st Street Stage at the Fremont Experience


Skid Row performs on the 1st Street Stage at the Fremont Experience
Skid Row performs on the 1st Street Stage at the Fremont Experience


Skid Row performs on the 1st Street Stage at the Fremont Experience
Skid Row performs on the 1st Street Stage at the Fremont Experience

I love hearing from my readers.   You can follow me on Twitter or use the "Contact" button to get in touch, so feel free to send me your comments and let me know if you have any suggestions.  Please visit my the concert section of my website to see these and additional photos from all the shows.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Las Vegas Concert Photography--The B-52s

Last Saturday night, The B-52's took the stage at The Joint in the Hard Rock Hotel.  At 37 years of age, I don't consider myself old, but I was simply amazed by the fact that there are people in their 20s that don't know who The B-52s are!  On the same note, I was just as amazed at the number of tweens present in the audience that apparently did know who they were and excited to see them perform live!  I'm not a die-hard B-52s fan, but, after all, they do have one of the biggest party hits of all time!  So to have the opportunity to photograph a band that helped musically define the era during which I grew up is pretty cool.  And props to the parents who ensure their kids know about bands lilke The B-52s.

But like all bands from 20 years ago, the members have aged and they may or may not look like you remember them.  Some bands are double plagued by time and despite the fact that they're 20+ years older, still think they sound as good as they did back then. Fortunately, for The B-52s, that's not the case.  Sure they've aged, but their sound hasn't.  The whole house was definitely still doing the shimmy!

Pics from the show below.  Click on any image to be take to the full gallery.


The B-52s perform at The Joint in The Hard Rock Hotel

The B-52s perform at The Joint in The Hard Rock Hotel

The B-52s perform at The Joint in The Hard Rock Hotel

The B-52s perform at The Joint in The Hard Rock Hotel

I love hearing from my readers.   You can follow me on Twitter or use the "Contact" button to get in touch, so feel free to send me your comments and let me know if you have any suggestions.  Please visit my the concert section of my website to see these and additional photos from all the shows.

Nikon D4--The Case of the Almost Deleted Images

Actually, this post applies to more than just the Nikon D4.  Many of the pro DSLR bodies now contain slots for two memory cards.  The D4 is my first camera body to have two slots. I have a 16GB XQD card  along with a 16GB CF card, with the CF card set as my overflow.   Two weeks ago I was shooting Van Halen at the MGM Grand Garden Arena.  I always shoot in RAW so my image file sizes are definitely not small (although not nearly as large as images from the D800).  Anyway, when I got home to offload my files in to Lightroom, I assumed that all my images were contained on just the XQD card.  It never really occurred to me to check my CF card, too.  Let's call it a newbie mistake attributed to not being fully familiar with the new camera body.   Anyway, after transferring the images to my computer, I put the card back in the camera and formated it right away.

Last weekend I showed up at The Joint to shoot The B-52s.  Before the show started, I was double checking all my camera settings and realized that I wasn't at full image capacity.  I KNOW I formatted my XQD card, so I hit the play button to see what was on the camera.  MORE VAN HALEN PICTURES!  And some real gems too!  Possibly one that would have been published instead of another image that was chosen for publication.  I quickly scanned through some 200+ photos I had missed and realized what had happened.  The Van Halen concert was so well lit and filled with so much energy, with out even thinking about it, I had fired off enough images to fill up my primary card and spill over to my overflow.  I had yet to shoot anything that required me to fill up my XQD card, so I really didn't know how many images it could hold before filling up.  766 seems to be the magic number.  Anything beyond that (if shooting only RAW) and there are probably images on the overflow card.

So, aside from not knowing my camera as well as I thought I did, I made one really big bad mistake during the Van Halen shoot.   I got trigger happy.  Between my two cards, I took over 1000 photos.  And that was just during the first 3 songs!!!!  Granted, David Lee Roth and Eddie Van Halen are two iconic characters, but there's really no reason for 1000 images of them in one shoot.  Not to mention the time spent having to sort through that amount of photos. At any other concert, I generally shoot about 300 images.  Of those 300(ish) pictures, I will narrow it down between 15 to 30 pictures that I want to display on my website.  Even if all 300 pictures are perfect I will still look for those 15-30 outstanding pictures.  So imaging trying to find a handful of Lightroom star worthy photos out of a batch of over 1000.  Needless to say, it's not fun.

So the moral of the story is two-fold.  Don't forget to check you secondary card in your camera if you have one.  Even if you only take a handful of pictures, always make it a point and you'll never make the same mistake I did.  And don't get trigger happy.  The saying that "Digital is cheap" is simply not entirely true.  Sure you don't have to pay for film or the chemicals to develop the photos, but you still have to spend the time to sort through the photos you've taken.  Time is money and if you want to get trigger happy, it'll cost you in terms of time you could have spent doing something else!


I love hearing from my readers.   You can follow me on Twitter or use the "Contact" button to get in touch, so feel free to send me your comments and let me know if you have any suggestions.  Please visit my the concert section of my website to see these and additional photos from all the shows.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Concert Photography: Tips on Shooting Jazz, Soloists, and Big Bands

For me, there's no doubt about it--rock concerts are what I love to shoot!  When you google around for tips on shooting concerts, most of the tips you'll find pertain to shooting rock bands.  Why is that?  Basically, because if you can shoot a rock band, you can shoot any type of live performance.  A rock performance has to be one of the most difficult photographic situations a photographer can encounter.  You have to deal with people running and jumping all over the stage.  There's also smoke, low ambient light, and bright colored spot lights that are continuously changing.  Oh!  And let's not forget strobes! Try timing a shutter press with a strobe providing all of your stage lighting and let me know how that works out for you! (Thank you D4 and 11 FPS!)

I wrote a post last year giving my tips for concert photography.  Rather than restate all my tips, you can read the article here.  When it comes to dealing with the intimate setting of a jazz club, or trying to shoot an orchestra, all the same principles apply.  However these types of shoots are generally much easier (for a few reasons, which I'll go in to later) The biggest difference that I've found is that instead of strobing and pulsating lights, you only have to deal with a spot light.   

In a jazz club, the spot light(s) will pretty much always remain stationary, unless the performers are shifting positions on stage. For the most part the lighting is pretty static.  So what does that mean to you?  Well, it means that all you have to do is simply set your meter to spot, set your ISO as high as you're comfortable with and set your shutter speed to at least the minimum of your focal length.  If you're shooting a 200mm lens, your shutter speed should be at 1/250 to avoid dealing with camera shake.  Obviously if your shooting at 70mm and trying to capture a jazz guitarist, you don't want to be shooting at 1/80.  As for aperture, adjust it as necessary to get the desired depth of field.   For an ensemble, you'll probably want to shoot around f5.6.  If your lens has image stabilization technology, you can drop your shutter speed by one or two stops (depending) and not have to worry about camera shake.   If you're focusing on an individual, adjust your aperture and shutter speed accordingly.  The main thing to keep in mind is that the light isn't changing, so your camera settings only need to change if you want more or less depth of field.  And let the auto white-balance do it's thing.  You can always adjust that very easily during post-processing.

Aside from the constant lighting, the other thing that makes these types of shoots easier, is that you're generally shooting from a fixed spot.  There isn't a photo pit filled with a bunch of other photographers.  There may be at most two other photographers.  Depending on the venue, this means you can spread out and don't have to be right on top of each other.  However, being that these types of shows tend to take place in more intimate venues, there may be times when you, as a photographer, will be invited to shoot. When this happens, it really opens for what you can do creatively, as it means you may have the ability to roam and shoot from back stage or from the stage sides.  You're provided with the opportunity to get some really unique and create shots of the various musicians on stage.

So to summarize:

  • Read  my post on rock concert photography--The same rules apply!
  • Spot meter
  • ISO to at least 1600.  I prefer 3200.
  • Aperture to 5.6 if you have an ensemble on stage.
  • Shutter speed set to no less than the current focal length of your lens (unless you have IS/VR)
  • Auto White Balance
  • If you have stage/backstage access than roam and get creative


Here are some examples of jazz/soloist/big band shows that I've photographed.  Feel free to click on any picture to be taken the the full gallery with additional images.

Clint Holmes


Clint Holmes


Kris Kristofferson performs at The Orleans Showroom in Las Vegas, NV


The Las Vegas Tenors perform at the South Point Casino in Las Vegas, NV


The Las Vegas Tenors perform at the South Point Casino in Las Vegas, NV

I love hearing from my readers.   You can follow me on Twitter or use the "Contact" button to get in touch, so feel free to send me your comments and let me know if you have any suggestions.  Please visit my the concert section of my website to see these and additional photos from all the shows.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Las Vegas Concert Photography: Flight to Mars with Mike McCready

Well, I realize it's been a few weeks since my last post.  It's not that I haven't been shooting.  I've actually been fairly busy with a few additional side endeavors.  For example, I'm going to have my first fitness/cycling article published in Las Vegas Element Fitness magazine, which I'm very excited about.  Additionally, I'm working on a follow-up to my initial review of the Nikon D4.

So last night I had the opportunity to photograph the extremely fun UFO tribute band, Flight To Mars featuring Pearl Jam lead guitarist, Mike McCready.  The show took place at the Hard Rock Cafe on The Strip.  While the crowd was small, the energy was massive!  The guitars were loud, the funk awesome, and the groove was an 80's rhythmic rock roller coaster. The show was filled with plenty of jumping around, massive dueling guitar solos, and an appropriate amount of hair swinging.  This was rock n' roll!

Pics from the show below.  Click on any picture to be taken to the full gallery.


Flight To Mars


Flight To Mars
Mike McCready (left) performs with Flight To Mars at the Hard Rock Cafe on The Strip in Las Vegas


Flight To Mars
Mike McCready (left) performs with Flight To Mars at the Hard Rock Cafe on The Strip in Las Vegas
Flight To Mars

I love hearing from my readers.   You can follow me on Twitter or use the "Contact" button to get in touch, so feel free to send me your comments and let me know if you have any suggestions.  Please visit my the concert section of my website to see these and additional photos from all the shows.