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.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Las Vegas Concert Photography: Clint Holmes

The newly opened Smith Center is a real beauty.  It's definitely shaping up to be major Las Vegas gem.  If you check out it's list of upcoming events, you'll see what I mean.  But hidden within this gem of art deco magnificence is a sparkling diamond--The Cabaret Jazz Club.  This intimate little venue is definitely a place you'll want to head to.  If not for the enjoyment of listening to some really great entertainers perform, than to be in the company of the who's who and celebrities looking for a low-key place to escape from the frenzy on The Strip.

When I was there a couple of weeks ago to shoot Clint Holmes on his opening night at The Cabaret Jazz Club, my Smith Center PR person escorting me to the venue was easily able to point out person after person of the Las Vegas elite.  A few days later, I opened the Las Vegas Review Journal to get the full list of celebrities seated in the audience that evening.  After reading about the celebrities in attendance, my notion that The Cabaret Jazz Club is going to be a huge hit was easily reaffirmed.

So if you're looking for a fun and sophisticated evening definitely check out the Cabaret Jazz Club at the Smith Center!

Pics from the show (Click on any picture to be taken to the full gallery:


Clint Holmes
Clint Holmes performs at The Cabaret Jazz Club in the Smith Center


Clint Holmes


Clint Holmes

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.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Nikon D4 Review






When the Nikon D4 was announced back in January, I, like a lot of other photographers, was extremely excited.  At the time I was shooting with a single D700 and was definitely looking to add an additional camera body to my arsenal for use during concert photography.  While the D700 is an awesome and very capable camera, it is also dated.  If I was going to spend the money on a new camera, I wanted the latest and greatest.  Sure, I could  have bought a D3S, but  I've lost out on gigs because I didn't have "enough megapixels" or I didn't have 1080p video capabilities.  So, being the forward thinker that I am, I decided that I'd bite the bullet and shell out the money for the D4 so I'd be prepared for whatever gig may come my way.

Before I go any further, I just want to let you know that this review isn't going to be technical.  I'm simply going to express my observations about this camera, doing so mainly from the perspective of concert photography.  Also keep in mind that I'm coming to the D4 after shooting a D700 for the previous two years and a D200 prior to that.  There are numerous technical reviews and tons of ISO comparisons all over the internet.  The forums on Digital Photography Review are a great resource if you're looking for a more technical review.  Additionally, Scott Bourne has a mini review on his PhotoFocus website, expressing his opinion about the D4  from the perspective of a D3S shooter.

Thanks to Casey Camera, I had a D4 in my hands within the first week of its initial availablity.  As an aside, if you live in Vegas, or are visiting and need something photography related, definitely check out Casey Camera.  They're extremely friendly, knowledgeable, and have a great inventory.  They also have on-site sensor cleaning and the gentleman who does the cleaning does an impeccable job.

Back to the review!  My initial thoughts upon opening the box were immediately directed to how nice the packaging is.  If you've ever bought an Apple product you know what I'm talking about.  It's clear that Nikon takes pride in how it packages this top-of-the-line camera body, as everything is neatly separated by various layers.

Having previously had the opportunity to handle the D4 at both CES and WPPI, I knew exactly what to expect as I removed the camera body from the box.  It's a marvelously constructed piece of equipment.  Aside from the massive amounts of documentation, the box also contains the "HEY!  LOOK AT ME! I'VE GOT A D4" camera strap, a dual slot battery charger (NICE!), CDs with Nikon View and the wireless transmitter utility, a hot shoe cover, and a usb cable clip.  The battery comes approximately 50% charged and only took a little more than an hour to fully charge.  Additionally, Sony has been gracious enough to throw in a 16GB XQD card and USB card reader.

So what's it like to shoot?  Well, compared to my D700, it's night and day!  Despite it's massive size, it feels lighter than my D700.  And it's comfortable to hold.  The autofocus is fast.  Ridiculously fast! With my Nikkor 70-200 VR1 and 1.7x teleconverter, autofocus is beyond impressive.  On my D700 with this lens setup, the time to required for the autofocus to work would have caused me to miss a shot or two.  The D4 seems to lock on in half the time.  Did I mention it's fast?!

11 FPS!  Sure you lose AE/AF at 11FPS burst, but when the camera is set to CH, pressing the shutter release is like squeezing the trigger of a fully automatic machine gun.  Even at 10 FPS, which does allow for AE/AF, you're likely to have fired off a minimum of 3 pictures with a slight tap on the shutter release button.

Backlit buttons!  Finally!  Nikon what took you so long!?  This is one of those small features that really make a huge difference in terms of camera usability—especially when you're in a dimly lit location.

The updated LCD screen is gorgeous!  It's almost like the difference between an iPhone with and without a retina display.

As far as ISO goes, I've got no complaints!  I love the fact that the D4 nows provides ISO 100 at it's lowest level.  But what I love even more is that I can crank the ISO to 6400 and not worry so much about noise.  On my D700, I hated having to use anything above 1600.

Copying RAW files from the XQD card using the included XQD reader on my 2010 Mac Pro via USB is fast.  NEF file sizes range between 17 and 22 MB and I'm able to transfer 100 files in just under a minute. This is definitely faster than copying from my UDMA CF cards via my USB CF card reader.

Last weekend, I was shooting Five Finger Death Punch at The Joint in the Hard Rock Hotel.  This was my first real shoot using the D4.  I had my 24-70 on the D4 and my 70-200 on the D700.  Both bodies were set to CH and I kept my ISO at 1600.  I'm not going to lie.  This shoot was a bit more challenging, but only due to the fact that I was using the D4.  I did spend a few hours on the days prior playing with the camera to get familiar with it's ergonomics, but a few hours is not enough time to adjust from 2 years using the D700.  As a result, I fumbled my way through the first song.  Fortunately, the lightning fast auto focus and the ridiculous power of 10 FPS ensured I got nearly every shot.  The two shots below each have three or four additional frames leading up to what you see.


Five Finger Death Punch

I think the biggest adjustment for me is having to learn where the auto focus point selector switch is, as this is where I spent a lot of time fumbling around.  Since I'll continue to shoot with my D700, I know it's going to take a lot of practice to be able to seamlessly switch between the two vastly different bodies.

I can't comment on the new auto ISO feature as it's something I definitely didn't want to risk playing around with when shooting a show with a three song limit.  I'm going to save experimenting with it for a bar shoot where I can shoot an entire set.  That's also the environment where I'll be able to fully test out how matrix metering on the D4 works with the SB-910 and if there have been any improvements.  I don't believe I've read a single review on the D4, that discusses it's metering/flash performance.  I actually think this is pretty important information for wedding photographers, as well as live event photographers, so once I get a chance to test, I'll update this post.

I also can't comment on the video capabilities.  Shooting video will be a new endeavor for me and trying to figure it out during an assignment would be foolish.  Not to mention, I'm not getting paid to provide video of the show.  Perhaps, once I've fully mastered the updated ergonomics of the D4 and have had some time to learn the basics of shooting video with it, I'll attempt a 30 second video capture during one of my concert shoots to play around with pulling stills from the video.

Here's one last picture from the Five Finger Death Punch show that I think really shows the beauty of the images produced by the D4.



If you have any questions about the camera and how it's been performing for me in concert environments, please don't hesitate to contact me.  I'll do my best to answer your questions!

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.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Las Vegas Concert Photography: 311

If it wasn't for the fact that I actually have pictures of 311 performing at the MGM Grand Garden Arena on 3/11 (aka 311 Day),  I'd probably try and dispute the fact that I was actually there—mostly due to the short-term memory loss inflicted by the massive cloud of marijuana smoke that hung over the crowd.  And I was only exposed to it for about an hour!  I can't imagine being there for the entire 3.5 hour show!  It's a good thing I had my drug screen prior to shooting this show :)

Pics from the show below.  As always, click on any picture to be taken to the full gallery on my website.


311 performs for 311 Day at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, NV


311 performs for 311 Day at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, NV


311 performs for 311 Day at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, NV


311 performs for 311 Day at the MGM Grand Garden Arena 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, March 8, 2012

Las Vegas Concert Photography: Mat Kearney

Mat Kearney stopped by Las Vegas two weekends ago to perform for a sold out audience at the Access Showroom in the Aliante Station Casino.  This posting isn't so much about Mat Kearney as it is about the venue.  And what a great venue it is!  It's small, holding maybe 1000 people, max.  And there isn't a bad seat in the house!  The lighting is great, as are the acoustics.  It's really a cool little venue that provides a comfortable and intimate experience.  It's just a shame that it's not utilized more for some of the more well known artists like Mat Kearney.  Looking at their concert calendar, then next (and only) big name performer taking the stage in the coming months is Grace Potter and the Nocturnals (who are AMAZING live!!!)

Venues like this really need to be utilized more.  Granted, you'll probably never see Bon Jovi or Van Halen performing here, but it certainly would be an awesome place to catch some of the more well known artists (like Mat Kearney) who don't really have the draw to fill at 15,000 seat arena like the MGM or a 4,000 seat venue like The Joint.

And this is not meat in any way to portray Mat Kearney in a negative way.  He was awesome on stage and had the crowd dancing in front of their seats almost right away.  He played for an hour and a half, treating the audience to seventeen of his songs; ending his encore with his hit "Hey, Mama."

Pics from the show below.


Mat Kearney


Mat Kearney


Mat Kearney

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, February 23, 2012

Las Vegas Concert Photography: The Darkness

I have a love/hate relationship with The House of Blues here in Las Vegas.  I love it because it's an awesome venue to catch you're favorite artist if they happen to be performing there.  It's size ensures you a good spot, no matter where you may be standing (or seated—if the upstairs section is open).  But I hate it because it's probably one of the most difficult venues in Vegas for photography.  The stage is about 6.5' high, which means I'm having to shoot up at the artist.  It also makes capturing some wider angle shots extremely difficult.  The lighting is generally poor, but there are some rare moments during the show where the lighting is exceptional.  Those moments usually come after the first three songs when professional photography is no longer allowed.

It is what it is.  You take the good with the bad.  I'd rather have the opportunity to shoot a show there than not so I take what I can get.  And last weekend I got The Darkness!

What do you get when you mix the flamboyance and insane vocals of Queen/Freddie Mercury, the crazy guitar sounds of AC/DC,  throw in a few 80's hair bands, such as Cinderella and Firehouse,  and add a dash of Russell Brand?  "Give me a 'D'.  Give me an 'arkness'," said lead-singer, Justin Hawkins, dressed in an American Flag suit and looking sightly like Captain Jack Sparrow, after The Darkness belted out their first song last Friday night at The House of Blues.  Best known for their mega-hit, "I Believe in a Thing Called Love," the original band hasn't played together since 2005, with the reunion occurring in 2011.

Musically, I don't know which was hitting the higher notes—Hawkins' vocals or his guitar.  His soaring falsetto is just simply amazing.  Just look them up on iTunes and listen to any of their other songs—you'll see what I mean.  I was blown away by the notes Hawkins is able to hit.  The Darkness proves that Glam Rock is still alive and well, but when it sounds as good as these guys do, who really cares?  It's still rock n' roll and it's still freakin' awesome!

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


The Darkness performs at The House of Blues in Las Vegas


The Darkness performs at The House of Blues in Las Vegas


The Darkness performs at The House of Blues in Las Vegas


The Darkness performs at The House of Blues in Las Vegas

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, February 16, 2012

Las Vegas Concert Photography: The Bloody Villains

I was reading somewhere on the internet a few days ago and came across a rather interesting quote:  "Without local bands, there would never be any national bands."  How true!  Every band or solo singer had to start somewhere, whether it was in the church choir or in the local dive bar.

With that being said, last weekend I was down at the Double Down Saloon (home to the world famous "Ass Juice" and appropriately available for consumption in a miniature toilet shaped glass) to photograph The Bloody Villains.  They're a loud, high-energy rock band with some serious in-your-face guitar.   They're planning on heading into the studio pretty soon to record their first album, so here's to hoping The Bloody Villains can steal a little fame and maybe get a little national attention!

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


The Bloody Villains


The Bloody Villains


The Bloody Villains perform at the Double Down Saloon




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, February 6, 2012

Las Vegas Concert Photography: George Strait and Martina McBride

Concert photography is hard work.  Sometimes you get a photo pit and sometimes you don't; you're left having to fight through crowds to get the shots.  Sometimes you get a nicely lit venue and sometimes you're forced to pull out a flash just to grab a few shots.  On the flip side of the last statement, sometimes you get a venue that has a lot of light, but uses it to backlight the performer, which turns all the photos into a silhouette—a cool effect for some photos, but not for all.  Sometimes you're limited from the normal three songs to just one or two.  Sometimes you have to deal with a stage setup that's far from ideal, leaving you with photos of the performer's back or, even worse, no photos at all.  There are a lot of variables that can affect whether the outcome of a concert photo shoot is a success.

Saturday night was my first time photographing a concert at the MGM Grand Garden Arena.  I've been to quite a few shows there as a paying customer so I thought I knew what to expect in terms of shooting the show.  I was wrong!  The stage, a huge octagon, was set up in the center of the arena, which according to my PR escorts, was a first.  Additionally, there was no designated photo pit, I was limited to the first two songs, and I'd be shooting Martina McBride from a completely different location than I'd be shooting George Strait.   Let the fun begin!

For Martina McBride, I was about 40 feet back.  She took the stage and immediately got the crowd roaring with one of her upbeat catchy songs.  I don't remember what it was because I was too busy trying to photograph my moving target.  She started off facing me, (fortunately) very well lit, but then quickly made her way around the stage stopping at various points so that people on opposite sides of the stage could see her without having to watch the overhead monitors.  She eventually came back around to my side of the stage, but the routine was quickly repeated, leaving me with maybe a total of 45 seconds between the two songs to capture my photos.

For George Strait, things were quite a bit different.  I was right at the foot of one of the sides of the stage along with one other photographer.  I guess he had been instructed to stay on our side for the first two songs.  He was beautifully lit and played right to us.  I was limited to two songs, but it didn't matter.  Everything else was perfect!

With some pop/rock artists, it seems like a game—make it as difficult as possible for the photographer to do the job, and once we leave they crank up the lights and the energy.  With most country artists this is definitely not the case!  Whether or not they appreciate the fact that a photographer is there to take their picture, or they're simply doing what someone told them to do, they make it very easy for a photographer to do their job.  Almost everything is always ideal—from great eye-contact, to amazing similes, to good lighting, to their position on stage relative to the lens.  So while I may not go running out to buy the latest George Strait album (he did sound quite good, though), or the albums of any other country artists, I will hold them in high respect, as they have made it very easy for me to do my job.

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











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.