Sunday, February 26, 2012

Ingrid Michaelson in concert: A private Las Vegas performance

Last week I was lucky enough to attend a private concert with Ingrid Michaelson in Las Vegas. If you don't know who she is, try taking a listen to this song and then you will say "Oh, I know her..." If you get a chance, you should see her play, as she puts on an amazing show.

She started by playing the Ukulele, assisted only by another guitarist.

And then switched over to keyboards for most of her other songs.

What I really liked about Ingrid, is that she would tell funny stories in between songs. I really hate going to a concert where the performer plays and sings, but shows none of their personality. She is nothing like that. This is a shot of her talking to the crowd, telling a funny story about her nationally televised stumble during the Thanksgiving Day Parade.

And then it was back to singing...

I moved from my seat, which was fifth row center, to a position just right of the stage so that I could get some other shots of her from a different angle.

These last two images were taken during her amazing performance of REM's "Nightswimming" where she uses a looping pedal to add her own background vocals. This was the last song of the evening and it was so good that I was actually hoping that she would not do any other encore songs. The song was so amazing that I don't think she could have topped it. The crowd went crazy at the end of the performance!

Check out her performance of this song being performed live at the Nokia Theartre. The video quality is not great but the audio is excellent. You can see it here.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Shooting a soccer game at night: Capturing the action

Friday evening was the last soccer game for the seniors at Prospect High School, and it just so happened that I needed to shoot an image of a soccer game for one of the videos we are doing for Target. I went to capture some photos.

This was one of the first images that I grabbed, while the last of the sunlight was still hanging around. Having that little bit of evening light definitely helps to freeze the action. This was taken at ISO 320 at f2.8 and still gave me 1/800 sec. I shot all of the soccer images with the Canon 5D Mark II and the Sigma 120-300mm 2.8 lens. I was also using the brand new Lexar 128GB Professional 1000x card. I could have shot more than 20,000 shots on this card. Too much fun!

Once it got dark, I was forced to change my ISO to 3200 and shoot wide open at f2.8 to get somewhere between 1/200 and 1/500 sec.

This is a shot of our good friend, Jamie, after she scored a beautiful goal by heading the ball into the net.

The celebration commences...

The expressions on these girls really tells the story. You can see the exuberance in the white team and the despair in the dark team.

(Photographer tip: I find that, especially when one team is wearing white jerseys, the camera is often fooled by the overhead lights, and over compensates for the field lights. In order to keep the images from being over-exposed, I shot in aperture priority and used the exposure compensation to bring the images down by 2/3 stop. I knew that I could always brighten the images in Photoshop, but that I could not fix the images if they were blown out.)

I like this image because of all three girls surrounding the ball in almost perfect symmetry.

This was my favorite image from the evening. I love the fact that this was captured at the peak of action with her red hair high above her head.

For those of you trying to take pictures of your friends and family at a soccer game, I recommend the following:

* Shutter speed of at least 1/500 sec (much easier during the day than at night)
* Focus mode: Servo (when the camera changes the focus dynamically)
* ISO: high enough to get you the recommended shutter speed
* Shoot in either shutter priority or aperture priority (depending on your conditions and which you prefer)
* Get as close to the field as possible
* Have fun

Saturday, February 11, 2012

911 Memorial in New York: Photos (day and night shots) to honor those who lost their lives

After a full week in New York City, I finally finished all of my presentations at the big photo dealers in town (and NJ) and had a chance to go shoot some images. I have been to the city so many times, that I am always looking for new locations to capture. Well...for this trip, it was a no brainer. I wanted to go see the 911 Memorial on my last trip, but could not get tickets. I went online and was happy to see that they are now readily available (even same day). I reserved my ticket for 3:30pm (giving a voluntary donation which was well worth it) which would let me capture images in daylight and in evening light. I figured that 2 1/2 hours would be sufficient to capture some nice images.

The names of every person who died in the terrorist attacks of February 26, 1993 and September 11, 2001 are inscribed in bronze around the twin memorial pools. The first names that I saw when first approaching the pools, were these names along with Ladder 24 and other members of NYFD.

It is a very solemn place, with so many people coming to pay their respects to those who are no longer with us.

These pools are part of what will be an 8 acre park within the 16 acre World Trade Center.

This image really spoke to me. I am not sure if this gentleman was praying, looking up to pay respects or simply looking up at the skyline. But the fact that he stands out from the crowd and has this look pretty much says it all to me. (Photographer's note: I did retouch this image to slightly darken all the other people to draw more attention to the one gentleman. And, I did lighten his face by a quarter stop. These edits are all very subtle but help to draw the viewer eyes to tell the story.)

At 5:30pm, the sun had set, the sky started to get a little darker, and the lights came on. This made for a much more dramatic setting, not only for photos, but in general. The memorial closes at 6pm, but I would recommend visiting late in the afternoon so that you see it both in daylight and darkness (depending on the time of year of course).

So simple and yet so pretty.

This is one of my favorite shots of the evening. I shot this image to show the inscribed names, but also include the fountains, the museum (which is still being built) and the construction in the background. Once again, the lighting in the evening made this image so much stronger than the daylight shot. (Photographer's note: I shot this image at f13 so that the foreground and background would be in focus. It also gave me a nice long exposure to blur the water. The ISO was set to 100 to give me the cleanest shot and the shutter speed was 2.5 seconds. And yes...I was on my Gitzo tripod.)

Another view of the fountain and museum.

I framed this shot to get the fountain in the foreground and the American Flag in the background.

One of the new World Trade Towers during construction. It is amazing to watch the progress of this building on each of my trips to NYC. I can't wait until they are finished, so that we can once again have what was taken away from this nation.

OK...if you know know that I always push everything to the limits. Right? Well...I was shooting at the memorial with my good friend, Matthew Sweetwood (President of Unique Photo in New Jersey - and all around great guy) and we ended up being the last two people at closing time. This should be no surprise to anyone who knows me and how I love to shoot at night. So, all these security people came up to us and said that we had to go. But I saw this as a perfect photo opportunity. I asked if we could take a picture with all of them to show that we closed the place. They were not sure if this was a good idea, but then their sergeant showed up and I asked him if we could do this. After some persuading, he gave us the OK. I set up my tripod and shot this picture. Love it!

Friday, February 3, 2012

A tribute to a fallen leader at Micron: Steve Appleton

Today is an incredibly sad day at Micron / Lexar. Their CEO and leader, Steve Appleton, was killed in a small airplane accident this morning. 

Steve was a really great guy who helped turn Micron into a world class company; one that I am proud to be affiliated with for a long long time. He will be missed by us all.

At the young age of 51, Steve lived life to it's fullest. He loved to fly airplanes and ended up dieing doing what he loved.

I am still sitting here in shock...