Monday, May 30, 2011

Concert Photography: Bob Schneider

So, I went to see Bob Schneider last night.  My little corner of the internet is full of love for Bob.  I had a grueling debate with myself over whether I wanted to take my camera or not.  I mean sometimes a chick just wants to get down with her bad self and not think about a camera.  In the end my camera yelled from its bag, "you better take me, I wanna see Bob too!"  Okay, maybe that didn't happen but I took the camera anyway!

I sang along loudly and proudly and I danced like some sort of deranged lunatic.  Neither of these are conducive to photography.  That being said, I did get a few decent shots.  And I suppose I'm glad I took my camera.  Though, I'm currently not on speaking terms with it for making me look atrocious in the photo I took with one Mr. Bob Schneider...I'll be cropping me out of that!  Anyway, for your viewing pleasure and so you can feel the Bob love, a non-blurry shot from last night's show.

Bob Schneider at Bowery Ballroom, May 29, 2011
 (more photos HERE)

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Jewelry: Amy Bubes Jewelry

Southern Designer Collections Showcase: May 25 @ Openhouse Gallery, New York, NY

In this piece, we're featuring Amy Bubes Jewelry.

Atlanta based designer Amy Bubes launched her line of jewelry in early 2009.  In that time she has produced some distinctive, classic, fun and easy to wear pieces.

Bubes uses Argentium silver, a silver that's more pure and more tarnish resistant than sterling.  Her line caught my eye because it was bold, but not overwhelming or bulky, yet still manages to maintain elegant simplicity.

I'm a big fan of rings and keep one on my finger at all times.  And, Bubes' rings caught my eyes.  I tried on a couple to see how they felt.  They were lightweight but not in a chintzy way.  You can definitely feel the silver on your hand.  I fell in love with one ring in particular, the 5 band stacked ribbon ring.  The ring consists of five twisted silver bands soldered together.  As a big ring lover, one of the first things that runs through my mind when I see a ring of size is, "will it be comfortable?"  Being a rather humid day, my hands were a bit puffy as they tend to be in the summer months.  I admit, I'm one of those people who has summer rings and winter rings.  I slid the ring on which, happened to be a perfect fit and it was extremely comfortable!  It didn't rub against my other fingers in that weird annoying way (as big rings often do) that makes you wish for some sort of cushion between it and your other fingers. It's also not something that's going to get in the way of reaching your hand into the pocket of your extra tight skinny jeans.  It is simply, a fun and easy ring to wear.

While I'm a fan of big rings, I don't generally like big earrings.  They're either too heavy, move too much and or annoy me by banging against my neck.  But, Amy Bubes may well have converted me!  Her silver ribbon hoop earrings are terrific!  They're light, but not so light that you're constantly checking your ear to see if you've lost them.  I spent the day wearing a pair.  Movement is minimal and not once did they bang against my neck.  Needless to say, I'm very pleasantly surprised to have found a pair of larger size hoop earrings that I can comfortably wear.

This is a line for people who like simple, pretty, elegant and classic pieces that are easy to wear.  They are pieces that work dressed up or dressed down.  Yes, they're high fashion, but this isn't a flavor of the month line that you'll toss aside when the next flavor comes along.  You'll find yourself returning to these pieces for years to come.

New Yorkers can find Amy Bubes Jewelry at Fragments in Soho.  Check the Amy Bubes Jewelry website for locations near you.

Necklaces with diamond accents by Amy Bubes Jewelry

Bracelets by Amy Bubes Jewelry

Rings by Amy Bubes Jewelry

Necklace with diamond bands by Amy Bubes Jewelry

Oxidized silver bangle bracelets by Amy Bubes Jewelry

Five band stacked ribbon ring by Amy Bubes Jewelry (press image)

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Beauty: Dirty Beauty, Nature-Based Skincare

Southern Designer Collections Showcase: May 25 @ Openhouse Gallery, New York, NY
In this piece, we're featuring Dirty Beauty.
Dirty Beauty is a nature-based skin care line.  Company founder Samantha Dickey, a down-to-Earth, eco-friendly lady, is steadfast in her belief that what goes on your body is just as important as what goes in your body.  What does that mean for consumers?  It means we get healthy glowing skin from products without hard to pronounce chemicals and preservatives.  As a matter of fact, the body creams and butters are made fresh before shipping to avoid the use of preservatives.
I've had the opportunity to try a few of the products first hand.  The Lavender Lemon Balm Toner which will be available May 31, not only smells wonderful but feels wonderful as well.  It's refreshing.  It's non-drying.  It leaves your skin soft and glowing. 
I have a hard time finding skin care products to use in the summer that don't one, make my face feel like an oil slick and two, feel like I have five pounds of goop slopped on.  My first day out using this toner it was a bit humid out.  I'm one of those people who perspires a lot.  The first thing I noticed was it didn't feel like my face was running off.  Secondly, my face didn't feel gritty and grimy by the end of the day.  I still felt soft and reasonably fresh after a day in the elements.
The second product I tried was the lavender Sleepy Body Cream.  It's rich and creamy.  It blends into the skin well and doesn't leave behind a waxy feeling build-up.  I could snap my fingers immediately after applying and it left my skin soft and silky.  The soothing scent is perfect for after your nighttime bath.
The final product I tried was the Georgia Lip Balm.  The creamy, minty beeswax lip balm gives that cool, refreshing feeling.  It's goes on smooth and makes your lips feel luxurious and kissably soft.  I'm a big fan of mint tea and the wonderful mint scent has me reaching for my mug only to realize it's my lips that smell so delicious! 
Good, yet affordable skin care can be hard to find but, Dirty Beauty covers both aspects. 

Bath Salt from the Dirty Beauty product line
Being an eco-friendly company, Dirty Beauty believes in re-use and recycle.  All packaging includes home compostable, bio-degradable and recycled components.  To encourage re-use, the company offers refills.  The lovely green bottles above, once they're empty, just order a refill which comes in packaging that is bio-degradable and refill your bottle.

Dirty Beauty founder Samantha Dickey

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Jewelry: MooMoo Designs

Southern Designer Collections Showcase: May 25 @ Openhouse Gallery, New York, NY

I paid a visit to Southern Designer Collections; a one day event showcasing Southern designers.  A lot of the designs, I noticed, were eco-friendly.  All of them were high-end yet functional.  Over the next several pieces, I'll be featuring some of the designers.

In this piece, we're featuring MooMoo Designs.

MooMoo Designs is Atlanta based and offers a wholesale line of women's jewelry, handbags, home accessories and gifts.  

The company unveiled their 2011 Fall/Winter jewelry collection earlier this month.  But, I got my up close look at the collection yesterday and they are beautiful pieces.  

Designer Juan Hernandez uses all organic material.  He makes liberal use of horn, bone and hides that come from by-products of the food and farm industry.  He also makes use of minerals.  The warm tones of the jewelry are glamorous, edgy and showcase just how beautiful nature is.  Upon first look, I thought some of the pieces were made of stones.  I was surprised that the highly polished pieces were actually bone and horn.  

This is a line you'll fall in love with if you like unique and bold natural beauty.

Bone and mineral rings by MooMoo Designs

Bone ring by MooMoo Designs

These unique geometric rings make bold statements. They're fun, funky personality pieces.

Studded bone bracelet by MooMoo Designs

Bone bracelet by MooMoo Designs

The above bracelet, I fell in love with.  Sadly, it didn't get to come home with me.

Designer Juan Hernandez of MooMoo Designs

Friday, May 20, 2011

In The Dark: MyNameIsJohnMichael

When you're doing concert photography in rock clubs, with dubious lighting, things tend to get a little tricky.  Generally, the lead singer is lit up like a holiday decoration and the rest of the band are regulated to the dark nether world of the stage as if they're horrible beasts that will burst into flames and turn to dust if light hits them.  There are exceptions though.

John Michael Rouchell of MyNameIsJohnMichael

Sometimes a front person will leave the confines of the stage and join the audience.  Case in point, MyNameIsJohnMichael's John Michael Rouchell.  For the last song, he took to the audience which happens with musicians from time to time.  Generally, most jump into the crowd for a few seconds and make their way back to the stage.  Rouchell, stayed there for the duration of the song.  The lights on-stage were going full blast and provided the only real light.  I don't use a flash and the light was in back of him.  All I could do was crank up my ISO to 3200, dial my f-stop to 1.4, be grateful that my lens focused that close up and dive in head first.  It's times like this that post processing becomes your close friend otherwise you have to embrace darkness and noise.  And even after you've formed the post processing bond, things can still be noisy.  The above shot was super dark almost to the "who's that?" point.

The above shot, made me giddy.  Rouchell leaned back so that the light hit him.  I knew at that point, I'd have at least one halfway decent shot of him performing in the audience.  This may be my favorite shot of the set.  I generally don't find my own work sexy, other peoples work, yes, but my own, no.  Well, there are a few of my own that I see that way besides this one.  This image, I find incredibly sexy.  The way the light hits his head, the tone of the lighting, the closed eyes, the sweat glistening on his neck, it all just works.

This shot was originally in color.  But, for some reason, when I saw it, it demanded to be black and white.  When photos talk, I listen!  I like the facial expression.  It was like he had that moment where he thought to himself, 'hey, I'd better turn around and check out this really great band that's playing!' and liked what he heard.

I'm not sure why but, this photo asked for a split tone vintage feel.  To my eyes, it adds to the dramatic look of the image.  This shot was taken just before Rouchell hopped back on-stage.  Heading back towards the light meant that I knew I'd get another halfway decent shot.  On his other side, you see another photographer.  Lord, that poor woman probably has some photos of me looking horrid in the background, sorry!

Before The Show: Prospector

Ryan Oh-No of Prospector

I went to catch a couple of shows earlier this week.  I of course had my camera out while the bands were setting up and clearing off stage hoping to capture a moment.  The above photo of Prospector's Ryan Oh-No was taken as the band was setting up to perform.  It was a true blink and you miss it thing.  There was apparently a lack of a proper drum stool so a wooden chair with a back was offered.  As you may be able to tell from the photo, it was a chair more conducive to kicking back with your feet up than drumming.  I was doing my scan the stage for a photo-op and just as my eye landed on Oh-No, he put his feet up.  I aimed and shot.  I had just enough time to release my shutter before he moved.  And in case you were wondering, one of the other bands playing that night lent a stool.  

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Fashion Photography: Black & White

Model: Steph Rai l Designer: DUROSEAu l MUA: Meg Hoyt

This is another shot from the fashion photography workshop I participated in.  When I started out, I wanted stark, edgy black and white photos.  Some of the fashions and makeup screamed for that treatment and frankly, that's the kind of image that appeals to me as a viewer.  Being my first foray into fashion photography and working with models, I wasn't sure if what was in my head was going to translate to my images.

All of the models were beautiful and I got some lovely shots.  I'm still sorting and processing images.  But, as I get deeper into the processing side of things, I've discovered that my camera really took to Rai who is pictured above.  This photo was taken while she was waiting for the next photographer to take over.  I cropped it close and made it a darkish black and white shot.  I think it's both dramatic and romantic.  When I look at this photo, I can envision her walking along a cobblestone street in the rain on her way to a little French cafe.  This was the kind of image I saw in my head when I began the workshop.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Fashion Photography: Strike A Pose

Learn as I grow, grow as I learn.  That's my approach to photography.  Well, that and have fun.  In addition to that, I feel I need a more diverse body of work.  It was a combination of these things that had me venturing into the world of fashion photography. 

It has already been determined that if a person isn't on a stage with an instrument, then I'm pants at capturing them.  But, I'm determined to at least become okay at posed photos.  When you see a finished fashion photo, you pretty much just think, oh that's a killer shot or not, depending on the photo.  However, when you're behind the camera, a whole boatload of thoughts pop into your head.  You have the whole lighting thing to think about.  Then you have the models.  I've discovered I'm no good at directing models into poses!  This is not something that comes natural to me.

My goal was to add at least one fashion photo to my portfolio.  There are a couple that I knew what I wanted them to look like when I was taking them.  And, I'm happy with those.  Other photos, I look at and see more than one end vision.  I started out wanting dark, edgy, black and white photos.  But as I started the beginning stages of processing, some of them I started to see slightly blown, edgy and desaturated.  Others called out to be soft and dreamy.  It is possible I should spend a day or two away from them, give some distance between them and me so I can see them more objectively before continuing to process.  In the meantime, this is a small bit of what my foray into fashion produced.

Model: Kate l Designer: DUROSEAu l MUA: Angelica V
The moment Kate walked out in that dress in the above photo, I thought DRAMA!  An outfit as dramatic as that screams to be captured.  So I attempted to capture the dress as much and as best as possible.  Combined with the model and makeup, I got it in my head that I wanted edgy and urban.  I think I kind of, sort of accomplished that.

Model: Kate l Designer: DUROSEAu l MUA: Angelica V

When I first envisioned the end result of the above shot, it was in color, full-length and with a slight retro vibe to it. It was lovely enough but, something just didn't feel right. First I turned it black and white but, that still didn't feel right.  So, I softened it a bit.  That made me feel better but I still felt like it was asking for something else.  That was when I realized it was asking to be cropped.

Model: Steph Rai l Designer: DUROSEAu l MUA: Meg Hoyt

In the above photo, I knew I wanted open space to the side.  I also wanted it to be dark and edgy.  However, when I made it way, it just didn't work for me.  I needed some softness to it.  I've found that I really like doing the off center images.  There's something fun and sexy about them.  This image may be my favorite shot from the day.

Model: Steph Rai l Designer: DUROSEAu l MUA: Meg Hoyt

I was tempted not to do any editing to this one other than a few basic touch ups.  But, as I kept looking at it, I started to think of spring time.  Huh?  I associate feminine and soft with Spring.  So, in the end, I attempted soft, romantic and sexy.  

Friday, May 13, 2011

My Favorite Images: Kenny Aaronson

Kenny Aaronson (bassist/producer)

Earlier this week I went to a show showcasing New York women that rock.  Aaronson was playing with rocker Lisa Bianco that night.  I suppose there's some irony in the fact that my favorite photo of a night showcasing women is of a man.  That's not a slight to the ladies though.  I got some rather nice shots of them as well.

Aaronson was over in the corner.  It's one of those situations where if the person were to move forward, back, left or right by even a little bit means the difference between pitch dark or "hey look-a-there, it's light!"  I started off the evening on the side of the stage he was playing on but front-woman Bianco was on the opposite side of the stage, not in the middle where singers and front people tend to stand.  So, I migrated. 

It was when I moved to the other side of the stage that I immediately saw what I wanted image wise with Aaronson.  I tried not to put too much thought into it.  But, I did have to have a little patience which is something I don't have a lot of.  I had to wait for Aaronson and the lighting to fall into sync.  I continued to take photos of everyone onstage while keeping an eye on Aaronson when gut feeling told me to be ready to take the shot.

I'm happy to say, it came out just as I saw it in my head. 

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Difficult Details: Feathers

Minnie D'Moocha (singer/model/dancer)

There are some objects that are difficult to capture in general.  But, they're especially difficult in low light.  One thing I always have trouble with is feathers.  In low light, if you're not careful or just plain unlucky, feathers will end up looking like a big solid blob. In the photo above of D'Moocha, I had the good fortune of having her hold the feather fans in front of the light.  The back lighting and the fact that the feathers were white allowed for the detail to be picked up while the subtle lighting in back of the lower feathers allowed for the texture to be picked up.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

My Favorite Images: Arden Leigh

Arden Leigh (model/dancer)

This photo is one of my favorites because of its simplicity.  I originally shot this one in color but the simplicity of it demanded that I make it black and white.  Interestingly enough, this was taken at a burlesque show.  Leigh was fun to photograph and provided several simple but incredibly beautiful photos.  They say less is more (minds out of the gutter!) and in her case, it was true.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

My Favorite Images: The On Fires

Max Harman and Marty Xennoff of The On Fires

The On Fires were fun to photograph.  Harman with her head of flaming hair was in constant motion.  I feared all of my shots of her would be blurred.  Well, not only did I manage to get photos of her that weren't blurred, I managed to get a mid jump photo of her and bandmate Xennoff.  This is kind of big deal for me.  Whenever artists do jumps onstage, I either miss them completely or they're total blurs.  

The Drummer Photo Curse

I have what I've dubbed "The Drummer Photo Curse."  For a long time, no matter what I did, my photos of drummers were horrid!  Drummers were often fuzzy little dots in the background in my photos.  I was at the point where I did everything I could to take photos of drummers while they were setting up just so I could have a photo of them.  

I always make an effort to get at least one photo of every band member.  Sometimes it doesn't work out.  Normally I can though, some of the images are worse than others especially if I get pinned to a spot.  Yes, I like the photography side of things but, if I like a band, I'm not so keen on leaving my front row fangirl spot when a place is packed.

But, with practice and different lenses, I've gotten better at capturing those tricky drummers.  It seems, for the most part, that I've broken the curse!

Andrew Vanette of A Million Years
Chris Stein of Jump Into The Gospel

The pre-show shot: 
Prior to breaking my curse, the above was how all of my decent drummer shots looked.  The drummer was reasonably well lit by the house lights, generally not moving and no lead singers butt to photograph around.

Ian Hudgins of Hot Seconds
Kent Aberle of The On Fires

The unexpected clear shot: 
The above photos represent those times when other band members leave you a clear path to the drummer.  Sometimes in order to make use of that clear path you end up on your knees ... a lot of my drummer photos are taken with me on my knees.  Other times you have to apologize to the person next to you for leaning over in front of them to grab an opportunity.  The drummers bandmates aren't the only challenge in getting a decent shot.  You have to deal with the drums themselves.  Cymbals in particular are problematic.  They are evil discs of shininess.  The slightest move of a shiny object can steal the focus in your photo.  At times they don't even have to move, as is the case in the photo of Hudgins above.  They're just focus thieves in general, at least based on my experience.

Matt Krupa of Talking To Walls
Dean Anshutz of Red Wanting Blue
The expressive drummers: 
Some drummers are incredibly expressive.  I can think of two off the top of my head, Brian Blade (whom I've had the pleasure of photographing in my point and shoot days) and Krupa who is pictured above.  Krupa is not only audibly fun to listen to but visually fun to watch and photograph.  He's a showman.  Anshutz, is also one of those entertainingly expressive drummers.  There's a wildness to him that makes him not only challenging but fun to photograph.  He brings that perfect dash of excitement, audibly and visually.

Ryan Oh-No of Prospector (formerly Doppelgänger)

The singing drummer:
Interestingly, Oh-No was one of the first drummers I was able to get a decent photo of. When the drummer handles the vocals, you're presented with an additional challenge, the microphone.  If you're familiar with a band then you know what band member does what, how they move on-stage and how their gear is set up.  The above photo was taken the first time I saw Doppelgänger (now known as Prospector) perform.  So I had no clue to any of that.  I originally was on the other side of the stage which of course meant that Oh-No was obscured by not only a cymbal but his microphone.  A quick change to the other side and I was good to go.  On-No's bandmate left plenty of clear shot opportunities plus, I had the added bonus of Oh-No being nicely lit.


Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Flowers: In Memory

This evening I spent some time away from my computer.  I do that from time to time so it's not odd.  Normally, when I log back on, the only thing awaiting me is a backlog of email.  This evening was different.  This evening, I logged on and the first thing I see is that I've lost a childhood friend, Loretta.  

Loretta was a warm person with a naturally gentle disposition.  She was just one of those really nice people that you liked.  I have many fond memories and I smile thinking of them now.  

Though I haven't seen her in years, we reconnected on Facebook.  About a week or so ago, I thought about her.  I hadn't seen any status updates from her.  I thought to myself, I should drop her a line.  Sadly, I never did. 

I sat here going through my photos, looking for one perfect flower, one perfect flower for one dear lady.  Rest in peace Loretta.  You are missed.


Sunday, May 1, 2011

Retro Lake

The Lake in Central Park

I've been to Central Park several times with my camera.  There's a lot to capture there. As with any place that catches your eye, you can go back time and time again, different times of day, different seasons and see it in a whole new way.  

In the above photo, I was walking around the lake after having strolled through The Rambles. Out of the corner of my eye, the sun hitting the water got my attention.  The first thing I knew I wanted to capture was, the sparkly light on the water.  The minute I held the camera up to my eye, I was hit with the notion of trying to use the sun to make the shot look retro.  I stood there looking through my camera trying to capture the feeling of light leak, blown exposures, flaring ... all of the things that make toy camera photography fun.  Of course, I wasn't using film or a toy camera; I was using digital. Normally, to get a look similar to this, I'd have to head to my editing software or just get lucky in my capture.  Not this time.  I didn't do anything fancy other than adding contrast and I didn't use any fancy gear.  The light and dark bits in the upper right that I think captures the whole retro vibe is the sun interacting with my filter and lens hood.  At any rate, the image makes me happy.