Perfectionism at it’s Best (Worst)

Ever make a mistake? Yes, me too and when I do they are normally doozies! I consider myself a perfectionist.  I was the kid who would not erase, but start over on a paper, it always took me longer because of this.  I still carry that bit of perfectionism into my life today and in doing so it imparts undue stress which is something I try to avoid.

When it comes to photography, I rarely have to edit, not that my photos are perfect, far from it many times, but I try to get my settings right in camera to avoid having to spend time in front of a computer to edit.  Last week that completely changed and I had an extremely humbling experience.

The story begins when I was asked by the lead singer of a headlining band to take their final bow shot at the end of the evening.  I knew it would be difficult because the lighting at these shows are less than stellar.  I accepted the challenge convinced I’d be able to give them something great.  Throughout the show I really fought with my settings and the non existent or highly saturated stage lighting, but I still thought “I can do this” because there is one thing I rarely do is question my skills.  Finally the moment came I climbed the steps up to the stage to position myself behind the drum kit and on my way I kept thinking, “I should have grabbed my flash”,  I really didn’t want to use flash because the idea was to capture the crowd behind the band.  I shot off the first few frames and thought my settings were adequate, however I had nothing to focus on as the stage lights were completely off except for this glaring green light bouncing off the cymbals. Still no realizing what was happening I continued to shoot as both bands took a final bow and my job was done.

On the way home the lead singer sent me a text message telling me how he couldn’t wait to see the photos.  I felt the same way, until I downloaded them into Lightroom. My stomach dropped, every single photo was dark; except for the green lights reflecting from the cymbals on the drum kit.  What was I going to do?  I completely broke down; THESE were the MOST important shots of the night and I had completely failed.  I began to question myself, my abilities and my judgement.  For three days I tried to work on the photos and just could not get anything usable.  I was devastated, I had ruined the photos.

dark-photo
Before

 

On the fourth day once again I received a text message from the lead singer asking when I would be sending the photos over, I told him they would be done later that night; again I broke down, but something at that moment hit me.  I could and would salvage the photo!

I needed to believe in myself and my abilities and understand I could solve the problem (with a lot of prayer and pleading to God).  Finally it came to me what to do and three hours later, the band had their photo.

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After

 

 

Here is what I didn’t realize at the time: The green lights were reflecting from the cymbals back to the sensor on my camera, so when I thought I was exposing for the faces, I exposing for the cymbals. I should have stepped forward instead of staying behind the drums and finally I should have used my flash and deal with the crowd in post processing.

Here is what I learned about myself: Always go with your gut! No matter what, do what your instincts tell you to do.  I should have used my flash.  Next I learned that I need to not stress over this, just breathe and work until a solution is evident.  And finally I learned I am human, and I make mistakes and I need to learn from them.  However, the biggest take away from this is that God has given me the gift of creativity and I need to rely on him and not on myself no matter how impossible the situation seems.  Thanks for following me, and Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

Season Is Upon Us

Where I live in Florida we don’t have four distinct seasons, we have two; Snowbird season beginning in mid October and the season when they go back north which is normally after Easter.  During this time in South West Florida the events and concerts pick up and my camera sees a lot of action.  The weather is a lot more pleasant for outdoor events and weddings.  My season started on October 15 with a wedding held at one of the most historic country clubs in Fort Myers; The Edison.  I am fortunate enough to be able to work with my youngest son.  He is an incredible photographer and one I trust explicitly. The long view of the couple facing The Edison was taken by him.  Please visit his website at phloridaphoto

Between the special events I also schedule portrait sessions and was able to photograph an interesting fellow whom I believe is one of the many spirits which lurk in Historic Downtown Fort Myers, complete with orb and gargoyle (look closely).

I was also at Fright Nite where The Sick Puppies and Devour the Day headlined, there were also a few interesting characters out that night as well. You can see more of the photos from this frightful night by clicking on the photo below.

fright-nite-7

 

Summer Slump

The summer months in South West Florida are extremely hot and humid and not ideal for outdoor large venue concerts, and since I don’t often photograph local bands except for an occasional radio station event it’s been extremely quiet

However, just as the weather will be changing; concerts will be picking up and photographic activity is about to come alive.  A plethora of great arena concerts, along with some local shows with big name acts will be arriving in the next few months. I look forward to this bustle after a nice break.

Recently I’ve traveled up to the Tampa /St. Petersburg area and caught several large name acts; I’ve photographed  Alice Cooper, The REO, Def Leppard & Tesla Tour,  and the Heart, Joan Jett & Cheap Trick Tour.  These photos can be found on my Facebook page

Last night I was privileged to photograph The Cirque du Soleil show OVO at our local arena.  WOW! what an incredible show.  The colors were magnificent as the “bugs” danced, pranced, and flew across the stage.  The acrobatics for this show are world class and if you ever have the opportunity to catch such a show, make sure you go.  It’s well worth the money.

More photos can be found by following the links and going to my Facebook page

Eye Contact

You hear all the time that the eyes are the window to the soul, one of my goals when I’m shooting concerts is to get the eye contact; now mind you I don’t ask for it, I don’t do anything distracting to get it, but generally it happens, even when I don’t think they can even see me as with Alice Cooper.  I was way over off to the side and a couple of rows up, yet this happened;Alice Cooper-6

There wasn’t anyone that I could see in his direct eye contact, I even asked the photographer behind me if she got him looking our way…….she didn’t.

On Monday I got kind of the same thing, but it was almost as if I was recognized, don’t see how that’s possible, but REO’s bassist comes out on stage and this happened;REO

and it continues with the other two bands Tesla………Tesla-14Tesla-3

and…….Def Leppard;Def Leppard-15

 

Canon 70-200 f2.8

Here I am with the box!
Here I am with the box!

I purchased this lens a few months ago and have had adequate opportunity to use it.  I have shot several concerts local venues and national acts, I’ve photographed a night wedding and I have taken portraits with it.  I am going to approach this with the Pro/Con format.

Pro’s

This is a sturdy lens (see con’s) with 23 elements and an all metal body which is dust & element resistant.

The lens is fast, with that f2.8 I am able to shoot in extremely low light situations;  with my Canon 6d I can successfully photograph in near darkness with little noise  at an ISO between 800 – 1600.  The wedding was a late evening outdoor wedding with very little lighting or should I say very little good lighting.  However with the help of the videographer (always make friends with the videographer!) I was able to have enough light to focus and pull some great images,  even with the ambient light as long as I had enough to focus with I was golden.

Focusing is quick and tack sharp and extremely fast with a manual override even in auto focus mode. It comes with a removable tripod collar, a hood and a beautiful carrying case.

Con’s

This lens is HEAVY.  3.28 lbs before you attach it to your camera body.  It’s not your day-to-day knock around lens that’s for sure and it requires a steady hand.  For such a large lens the telephoto is only up to 200mm on a full frame camera, so if you are looking for something to get the wildlife that’s far in the distance, this would not be the lens to grab.

This lens is not cheap.  The starting price is around $2500.00, but it is an “L” lens and it’s one of Canon’s top of the line and premier lens so is it worth the price? That’s for you to decide.

My Recommendations

I highly recommend this lens for those who are portrait or wedding photographers.  I do photograph portraits and weddings from time to time, but my most of my work is events and large venue concerts.  This lens is perfect for those dark venues, with bright lighting.  I have had some great results with this lens.

I hope this helps anyone who may be on the fence about making this large of a purchase.  Maybe if you are not sure if you want to spend the money, then  borrow the lens for a few days, see if it’s what you are looking for.  This is exactly what I did, I have a photographer friend who owns this lens and I was able to use it and well, I knew I needed to have it.

The Prize
IMG_1251 The Prize

Early Christmas!

I am a naturally happy person. Things are not what make me happy, too many things clutter my simple life. I don’t need people around to be happy either, but I love my family and friends and I feel much more than happiness being around them, I’m joyful.  As it goes, if I get something new it’s not to make myself happy it’s because I know I will enjoy using whatever it is I have received.  However, last night I received an early Merry Christmas to me present; the Canon 70-200mm f2.8 USM II lens.  I have drooled over this lens for a couple of years and have even had one on my camera, which really increased the feeling of want and need.  As a photographer who works with portraits and weddings and large venue concerts this lens is the industry standard and I now own it.  To say it makes me happy is an understatement, it makes me ecstatic!  It simply proves that good things come to those who wait and I have waited and it’s my time enjoy what this lens can do for my photography.

I have read all there is to read about it, I’ve used it on my camera so I know first-hand what it will do for my craft and how with my skill I can create amazing images. I didn’t make this decision on a whim, I thought it through and had an opportunity that I could not pass up and I bought it.

Photo Credit to Photographer Sam Arnold

Here I am with the box!
Here I am with the box!
Next is opening the lens case to expose the goodies inside.
Next is opening the lens case to expose the goodies inside.

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As I use this lens in the next few weeks I will write up a complete review……for now I am going to go and enjoy it; with a huge smile on my face!

Giving up?

You know, I write so often about what I have done and where I’m going and sometimes I have to take a step back and breathe, because there are days or weeks that I feel as if I have no time as I am going from show to show or portrait to portrait.    This past week was one of those weeks.  I really try to balance out my life with work, photography, friends and family then add to that learning opportunities.  For the ordinary person I’m sure my schedule seems to be overwhelming, but for me it’s my life.  As a creative I also need to take time to renew myself and spend time alone with the natural world.  I also need to spend time with people I care about. I prefer that one on one time as it gives me opportunity to open up (something that only happens with a choice few) and it allows me to get some much needed feedback.  These are things I need because living alone I don’t have anyone to come home to where I can bounce off my day/evening so I have to rely on myself, and I am my own worst critic. The other night after a huge concert I came home totally upset with the way I felt the shots turned out and I wasn’t sure I would be able to use any of the images as the lighting was a complete nightmare, I wanted to cry. As I was reminded this weekend I am a painter of light, so surely there was something I could use.  Turns out I had a few shots that many would call the “money shot”.

I love concerts; I love the challenge of the lights and the thought process that goes into it, but it’s stressful especially when you know someone is relying on you to do you best work.  I really felt it this week and when I looked at the images, I wondered if this is really what I should be doing.  However, that thought was fleeting as I brought up the images and I know there is nothing I want more (ok there is, but I’m being patient).  I love this and I know I am doing exactly what I should be doing as opportunities are opening up for a future I only dreamt about.  Spending time with a few friends this weekend and time out in nature has refreshed me for another busy couple of weeks. So I take a breath and keep going because my passion is being a photographer.

Luke Bryan-31 (Medium)Luke Bryan-29 (Medium)