I recently had the opportunity to cover a sold out arena show for the band Third Day, who gave me full access to do pretty much anything I wanted. Today I want to share some of those shots with you, as well as my experience covering the show. I also recently shot some band portraits for another artist that I’ll share after the concert stuff.
As soon as I got the phone call asking if I was available to come to Atlanta and cover the Third Day show, and being told I would have full access, I knew I wanted to set up a remote camera on stage to capture the view of the band performing with the sold-out audience as well. I set it up during the band’s sound check (as you can see in the test shot above) using two Manfrotto Magic arms (one to hold the camera and another attached to the rail and arm holding the camera for added security/support).
The camera itself is a Canon 5D Mark III with a 8-15mm fisheye lens at 15mm, and I put the biggest memory card I had in it to make sure I didn’t run out of card space during the show as I wouldn’t have access to it to swap out cards. Since this was my first time setting up a remote camera on stage, I just took a guess at the settings and hoped it would work. I went with Spot Metering, Auto ISO with 1/250 as the minimum shutter and 12,800 as the max ISO, and f/5.6 just to be safe on depth of field.
To trigger the camera, there’s a PocketWizard Plus III in the hot shoe and connected to the remote port with the appropriate cable, and I had another PocketWizard Plus III in my front shirt pocket that I used to trigger it during the show. I could have put the PocketWizard I had on me on one of the cameras I was carrying if I wanted the on-stage camera to shoot at the same time I was shooting, but I opted not to.
This allowed me to capture some key moments during the show from a unique perspective, as well as show the size of the crowd. These guys aren’t doing too badly for a band that’s both been around for over 20 years, and it’s still four of the founding members!
It’s always a privilege to shoot soundcheck, so here are a couple of my favorites from that:
The band invited some friends to join them for the show, including one of my other favorite bands, Needtobreathe, who were also in town for their own shows at The Tabernacle that weekend and stopped by for a couple of songs:
And here are a few more of my favorites from the evening:
And at the end of the show, I went on stage to get a shot of them facing me with the crowd behind them:
It’s a cool experience being able to shoot for a band that you grew up listening to and can now call friends, so I’m hoping to have the privilege of shooting for these guys more in the future!
Speaking of friends in a band, my buds in Preson Phillips recently released a new album and needed some shots to help promote it. They wanted a close up, kinda harsh and gritty look, so here’s what I wound up doing for them:
Tim McTague, one of a few dudes who play rotate on electric guitar
I mainly used all constant lights for these shots; two Westcott TD6s with strip banks on either side and a fluorescent ring light (mainly for the catchlight in the eyes). The background light was an Elinchrom BRX 500 with a reflector aimed at the white wall behind them:
So there you have it, a look into a couple of my recent shoots. Hopefully some of this was helpful and will inspire some creativity in you as well. If you have any questions, leave a comment and I’ll do my best to respond as soon as I can!
A few years ago, Matt and I started a project to answer a question we’ve been asked again and again: “I already have the Bridge & Camera Raw — why should I switch to Lightroom? ” or “I thought Lightroom was just the same as the Bridge and Camera Raw.” Uggh! It kind of like saying “I already have a kit lens — why would I want anything else?”
It’s particularly frustrating because Lightroom has so many advantages over the Bridge & Camera Raw — it’s a whole different world, but Matt and I know there’s just no way to explain that in just a few words, and that’s why way back in Lightroom 3, we created this side-by-side comparison called “100 Ways Lightroom Kicks The Bridge (and Camera Raw’s) A$$!” where we created 100 short, straight-to-the-point videos (30 to 60-seconds each) that make it all crystal clear.
That way, people could go directly to the topics that interested them most (since I doubt anyone would watch all 100, or would be willing to sit through 100 when they only needed a few to change their mind). NOTE:There is a little forward button at the top right corner of each video, which you can click to take you to the next video, in case you want to watch all 100.
Why Now? Because it came up once again on last week’s episode of “The Grid” (the same old questions and misconceptions) and with Adobe’s Creative Cloud Photographer’s Bundle now a permanent part of Adobe’s product line (You get Photoshop CC, Lightroom 5 and Lightroom Mobile for $9.99 a month), I thought it was time to revisit that list, even though Lightroom has added tons of new features since we created that original site (at the very least, watch the short intro that Matt and I put together to get you started).
By the way, you can download a free 30-day fully-working trial version of Lightroom 5 from Adobe, and give it a whirl yourself (download link for Mac & Windows) — you’ll super-dig it ( I cannot tell you how many emails we’ve gotten from people around the world who have thanked us for turning them on to Lightroom over the years). Hope you find it helpful.
DISCLAIMER:This story has nothing to do with photography, or Photoshop or Lightroom or anything like that. It’s just about my birthday, which was awesome because I have an awesome wifey, which is what the story is about. Just so you know.
It actually started Saturday night… So, the wifey and I are sitting around the kitchen table Saturday evening when I see an email come in with those words from Delta I long to hear…“Your upgrade is now confirmed.” I assumed it was for a business trip I have coming up to New York in the next week or so, but then I look at the dates and it says Sunday, July 6th.
I’m looking at it, and I say out loud to Kalebra, “Could I have accidentally booked a meeting on my birthday?” She doesn’t answer but when I look over at her she has this big smile on her face. She says “Tomorrow morning I’m taking you and our son up to New York City to celebrate your birthday!!!”
Well, I was psyched!!! First, I love birthday surprises (especially the kind Kalebra plans!!!) and I love to travel, and I love New York, and I just about to burst! Now, just to give you an idea how perfect this day is about to become, all three of us got the free upgrade, and my son is only Silver Medallion (Delta’s lowest loyalty ranking for frequent flyers), but he still got the upgrade. That rarely happens! This day is so gonna rock! :)
I didn’t bring a camera… It was a birthday trip, so I left all my camera gear at home and took these shots with my iPhone (that’s looking up at Rockefeller Center. Also known as 30 Rock, or the GE Building, and it’s also home to NBC).
First stop — Top of the Rock! My son hadn’t been to New York since he was a little boy, so our first stop was to visit the rooftop observatory on the top of Rockefeller Center so he could see the magnificent skyline.
Above:I have to admit I was a little stunned when I picked up the tickets for the elevator ride to the top and saw it was $87 for the three of us. Ack! Apparently that deterred no one — it was packed up there and there were long lines just to go up and again to come back down. It made me want to get in the observatory business. ;-)
But what a view up there! I’ve always gone up to the top of the Empire State Building in years past, but then you don’t get a view of the coolest building in the skyline, because you’re standing on it. At 30 Rock, you see the whole shebang (Note: Shabang is a registered trademark of Peter Hurley Industries and is used under a written agreement signed in blood during a ritualistic conclave for the Royal Order of the Sacred Squinch).
Above: I did some iPhone panos, too but I liked this regular ol’ shot best. The iPhone is great in nice daylight.
Above:Next stop — Carmine’s on West 44th (Mmmmmmmm, Carmine’s!). It’s my favorite restaurant anywhere! (I know, I know, there are better Italian Restaurants in NYC, blah, blah, blah, so there’s no need to tell me [again] that it’s just for tourists and then tell me where I should go next time instead and all that, because I just love that place! The wifey and my son love it, too. Their Chicken Scaloppine is insane!). Anyway, they just opened one in Vegas (in the Caesar’s Palace Forum Shops) so I might get to eat there again in September. Whoo Hoo!
Above:The wifey got this shot of me in Carmine’s basking in the glow that is Carmine’s!
Lunch was just incredibly delicious, but after lunch… It was off the Sam Ash — the amazing musical instrument store. By the way; we have a number of Sam Ash stores right in my hometown, but not like the original one in New York. It was guitar heaven!
Above:iPhone pano of the fancy room with guitars that I never buy. The guitars I buy are out in the main showroom — this is where they keep the “good stuff.”
Above:That’s me with my birthday present — a brand new, 120th Anniversary Edition, Gibson Les Paul Classic! I was pretty blown away (to say the least).
Above:Here’s a closer look. If you’re coming to Photoshop World Vegas, you’ll see me playing it on stage at the attendee party where I’ll be playing with my band, “Big Electric Cat.”
That’s right — “Kalebra for President!” She takes me in the room with “The good stuff” so I can pick out a guitar as my birthday present. How awesomely insane is that!!!!
I had been looking at this very same Les Paul online (I’ve always wanted a black Les Paul ever since I saw Peter Frampton playing one during his original “Frampton Comes Alive!” tour which I caught in Lakeland, Florida back in like 1976, though his actually has three pickups — there’s an extra one in-between the two you see here). Anyway, it’s being shipped to me today — should be here by Wednesday. Mega-psyched!
Above:the cast of “Motown: The Musical.” I took this iPhone shot (I didn’t use a flash or anything) and an usher ran over to me and about took my head off, and while she’s yelling at me, flashes are going off throughout the audience. I didn’t argue or anything (especially since the iPhone isn’t great under these types of lighting situations) I just put my phone away, but just so you know, I did stick my tongue out once she was gone and made a grumpy face. That’ll teach her! ;-)
Time for a Broadway Show! After Sam Ash, the wifey takes us to see “Motown: The Musical.” It was awesome and she got us just great seats — six rows back from the stage, center, on the aisle! Fantastic music (of course), good story (learned lots of things I didn’t know about Barry Gordy and Diana Ross and the Motown family). Plus, really great dancing and staging. Really a fun show all the way around (my son really loved it)!!!!
One more thing! A quick stop at Junior’s for Cheescake! The weather was beautiful (about 82° with a nice breeze and low humidity), so we sat outside at Junior’s and it was a perfect end to the day (and I split an awesome slice of cheesecake with my son).
Having my son come along (our daughter stayed home with Grandma — she’s still a little too young for a whirlwind day like this, and a long Broadway show of songs she’s never heard), really made this day so special for me (and he totally loved the trip; especially the show, and the drum department at Sam Ash, and Carmine’s and…heck, he liked it all. He’s a lot of fun to travel with).
Even a perfect day comes to an end After Junior’s we headed right back to the airport where we had landed just nine hours before. Before you knew it, we were back home (where I’m sitting on the couch writing this now).
Although we definitely celebrated yesterday… …today’s my actual birthday, so I’m taking the day off today to recoup. LOL! Hey, you only turn 38 once, right? ;-)
Thanks for letting me share this story with you today …the story of my mega-awesome wife surprising me with a perfect day — and one I’ll never forget!
Hope your day today is every bit as good! (but without the whole getting older part, which we can probably do without, though Kalebra says getting older sure beats the alternative). :)
Hi Gang: July 4th is a big holiday for us here in the US — it’s Independence Day — a day where all Americans celebrate their independence from Glyn Dewis and Dave Clayton (shown pictured with me above. This shot was taken during the Third Global Biennial Conference on International Bakery Treats held at a random Pret a Manger in the heart of London).
If you’re thinking of shooting some fireworks shots tonight, I wrote an article for ColaCola’s Journey website where I take you through the recipe for how to make Awesome Fireworks photos (It’s a step-by-step article — follow the recipe and ya can’t miss). Here’s the link.
I would add three things to that article for the serious photography crowd here on my blog. They are:
>> Set your focus to infinity (This isn’t critical but if your lens can do it, why not). The fireworks are so bright you can use just regular ol’ auto focus for the most part, but if you have a lens that has a distance scale window on the top of your lens barrel; first turn off your auto focus (right on the lens — switch it to off), then rotate the focus ring on your lens until you see the Infinity symbol [it looks like the number 8 lying on its side]. Again, you don’t have to do this, but it might make things a bit easier.
>> This is a tip I haven’t tried yet (I’ll try this one tonight), but @SuzanMcEvoy (one of my followers over on my Twitter page) said you get much truer colors if you switch your White Balance to Tungsten. Hey, I’m gonna give it a try. Thanks Susan for the tip.
>> This one probably goes without saying, but you’re on a tripod so use your lowest ISO setting for the cleanest shots.
Hope you all have a safe, happy 4th of July as we celebrate our nation’s physical distance, in miles and magnitude, from Glyn and Dave. It is truly a day worth celebrating. ;-)
DSLR Filmmaking: Video Basics Join Mia McCormick on location in Las Vegas for a fantastic primer on video basics for DSLR filmmaking. Mia expertly guides you through all of the fundamental concepts required for taking your DSLR video to the next level. In this class you will learn about the key camera settings needed for video, how to choose the right lens for capturing motion, the important role your memory card can play, how the pros keep their subjects in focus, and so much more. If you’ve been neglecting the video functions on your DSLR because you haven’t been satisfied with the quality of your footage then this class is for you!
Leave a comment for your chance to watch this class for free!
KelbyOne Live Want to spend a day with Scott Kelby, Joe McNally, or Corey Barker? Check out these seminar tours!
You can check out the full schedule for seminars through August, and we’ll be updating it with more dates soon! Leave a comment for your chance to win a ticket to one of these events!
Ron Martinsen’s Photography Gear Recommendations Our buddy Ron Martinsen recently put together a list of his favorite photography gear recommendations over on his blog that anyone who is getting into, or has been into photography for a long time can find useful. Ron lists out his favorite and most useful pieces of gear, everything from camera bodies and lenses and filters and flashes and tripods to bags and software and books and websites, and even offers links and discounts for a lot of the gear he’s listed! You can see all of his recommendations right here.
Expanding to Motion/Video and Registering Your Copyright Online
I’m pleased to be returning to the blog and before I get started, I thought I’d share a few images from the last few weeks that have kept me busy in Washington, D.C.
On assignment covering the President, we left The White House in the motorcade where the President was to play golf. Here’s the view from the press position out of the sunroof of “Press 2” awaiting the President’s departure from the White House, cameras at the ready:
Here’s the network TV cameraman in “Press 1” riding in front of “Press 2” documenting the motorcade rolling:
When Army Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl was released and his parents appeared with the President in the Rose Garden, I made the standard image from the front:
Taking a step back and to the side is a way to take a different look at the situation, and also gives you a feeling for the scene.
However, it’s important to be not only thinking a few steps ahead to anticipate what’s going to happen, but also put yourself in a position to capture something different. While I knew there would likely be a hug, those can often be awkward, and they don’t always happen. Instead, I knew they would recess back to the Oval Office, and I thought that would be a better image.
Apparently, Time Magazine liked my image as well:
Next up was a Congressional hearing into the IRS’ targeting of conservative groups, where the Commissioner of the IRS was engaged in heated exchanges with the Members of Congress:
And then there was the comedian Gabriel Iglesias promoting his motion picture release – The Fluffy Movie – at the local legendary Ben’s Chili Bowl.
Which brings me to the first half of the important message for this blog post – making motion pictures. So many still photographers today are either experimenting with, or being asked by clients, to produce a project that is motion, and not still photography. Now, we use the term “motion” (or are encouraging you to not use “video”) because calling motion “video” is akin to calling your mobile phone a “cellular” phone. So, we use “motion” and encourage you to do so too. It’s not like it’s a new characterization – the phrase “motion picture” has been around since Thomas Edison invented “motion picture machines” in the 1890’s (or arguably Louis Lumiere in 1895). “Video” came into parlance many decades after that, and refers more to the format of recording onto magnetic tape, and, well, you know that we’re not doing that anymore. So, let’s return to “motion.”
The challenge in producing motion projects is that while the concepts of framing, getting the exposure right, and lighting are similar, there is so much more to learn. Moving the camera, or the subjects moving within the static frame, are far more complicated than you think, and the issue of story-telling in a succinct way becomes paramount. Then, as if that’s not enough to worry about, anyone who’s ever produced a motion project will tell you, a entire production can be ruined by bad audio.
Vincent Laforet is winding down a lecture series – Directing Motion – that has travelled the country, that really shows you exactly how to deal with storytelling, framing, and motion within the frame. Here’s a teaser that is for the lecture series (you should go to one of the few remaining dates if you can) but if you can’t, the videos that break down how to understand motion and direct it, using some of the most well known films of all time.
Exposure and lighting are very similar to issues that still photographers face, and what I will say about the importance of good audio – it’s like backing up your work. There are two types of people in this world, those that have had a hard drive crash, and those that will. You don’t get religion on backing up until you’ve lost a bunch of your work, and you won’t get religion on bad audio until your project has had to suffer through it (or fail altogether because of it).
It’s very important to ascertain what the client expects from you for a motion project. We go through, in great detail, the vast majority of things that about 98% of still photographers that are transitioning into motion would ever need to worry about in my book, MORE Best Business Practices for Photographers. Among the many considerations are: Are you just producing the raw content, or do you have to deliver a finished edited package ready for the viewer? Are you developing the storyline or does the client already have one they want you to bring to life? How many locations will you be working in? Do you need actors to be hired? Do we need music for the project? These are just a few of the many questions you’ll want to ask. Just as a client will say to you “I want a portrait of my CEO along the lines of the one you did on your website…” it can answer a number of questions if you ask the client if they have any videos they’ve seen that they want you to emulate.
As you begin to get calls for motion, you may well be able to do the project as a “one man band” operation. Just like the musician, if you’re just playing the guitar but were able to start the drum machine first and then sing as well, you’ve got about three instruments going. You can light it and then frame the visuals, and if you’re lucky and have a wireless microphone on your subject(s) capturing audio, but if it gets more complicated than that, you’re in trouble – and more complicated means that people are moving in and out of the frame, for example. When was the last time a great musician was able to simultaneously – in real time – play all the instruments? Right, never. At some point, you need to know when to hire in members of a crew that can properly do the different aspects of a production that can then result in a great finished motion project.
The first crew member to bring in is usually an audio technician, and then adding in a stylist, lighting director, or hair and makeup rounds out your crew. After you’re done, even though you may be great at using Final Cut Pro or Adobe Premiere, having someone do your graphics and animation in Apple’s Motion or Adobe’s After Effects will give you much better results. Once you get beyond one or two additional people, your title is now Director and/or Producer.
The going rate for a two person crew for 8 hours is between about $1,250 and $1,500. This includes a basic motion camera, and a basic two-light setup and two channels of audio. The finished deliverable is the raw footage, without editing. Crew beyond that is – and we’re ball-parking here – about $50/hr for, say, a camera operator, focus-puller, and so on. Will you need all these additional crew members? In the beginning, likely not, but eventually, you may well. Asking lots of questions helps you understand what the client is expecting.
Among the worst problems is if you shoot in the 4:3 aspect ration (which is the standard for most older television sets) when the client wants 16:9, which is more of a current standard. But, beyond that, there’s what “flavor” of HD – 1080i or 1080p, 720p, and so on. Is your client US based, and thus, wants NTSC, or based in another country where PAL is the standard? What about where the piece will be played? If it’s destined for televisions, there are different framing considerations for “TV safe” areas, but if it’s destined for a web video, then what you capture is almost always what you’ll see. But then again, not always! Ask your client lots of smart questions, and as the project grows, don’t be afraid to ask for help in the form of more crew that will deliver the project properly, and garner you a reputation for quality work that will earn you repeat business. Keep in mind – where you might be thinking you need to come in at a low price to get the project, in all likelihood this client has hired motion producers before, and if they are used to a $10k budget, and you come in at $4500, it’s not that they will hire you because you’re cheaper than half the price, but it will be evident that you are not estimating to cover all the things they are expecting, and clearly your low budget figure only evidences that you’re not qualified to do the project properly. One of the most important questions you can ask a prospective client is “what budget are you trying to work within?”
Back in the still photography arena, we’ve registered well over a hundred different copyright registrations and in my first book, Best Business Practices for Photographers, I detailed exactly how we did that using the printed Form VA along with a DVD of images. While that system still works and is acceptable, In my latest book, MORE Best Business Practices for Photographers, I go into detail as to exactly how to do it using the online registration system, the Electronic Copyright Office, or eCO. My goal was to demonstrate that you could register many thousands of images in an hour or less, and if you’re doing the registrations monthly, that works out to be an hour a month.
You’ve no doubt had a number of people tell you how important it is to register your work, but you’ve just been daunted by the process, so I won’t go into the “why” here, just the how. The key thing is to not worry right now about the mountain of images you’ve produced in the distant past, but work on what you’ve produced recently and start a system moving forward to register methodically. Once you’ve done a few, it’s easy to then go backwards and register past works.
As I prepared the chapter on using the eCO I was fortunate to be able to have one of the members of the Copyright Office’s legal team as well as the Assistant Chief of the Visual Arts Division of the Copyright Office look over the chapter, and the Assistant Chief also reviewed the video.
This is the entire video, and it should probably be behind a paywall somewhere, but it’s not. While the book goes into detail on various uses of the eCO, the video does not require the book at all. The link to the spreadsheet is here that is a part of this process. This is the system to use for works that have been published. That said, once you watch the video, you can see how it could just as well be used to register unpublished works too.
For over two decades, John Harrington, an award-winning photographer and best-selling author has covered the world of politics, traveled the globe, and run a successful business requiring the non creative but essential skills that make a business function.
John grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area before moving to Washington, DC in the mid-80s for college. A 2007 recipient of the United Nations’ Leadership Award in the field of photography, his work has appeared in Time, Newsweek and Rolling Stone. His commercial clients have included Coca-Cola, SiriusXM Satellite Radio, Lockheed Martin, and the National Geographic Society.
John currently sits on the national boards of the National Press Photographers Association, American Society of Media Photographers, and White House News Photographers Association where he is also President Emeritus after having served two terms.