Aug 6, 2011

Photo Shoot for Keren Tayar

Here are some shots from a shoot I had with my friend Keren.  She goes to Berklee College of Music up in Boston, and she's got some chops!  Keep an eye out for her in the future.

The New Jersey Jackals

Jun 14, 2011

Shen Wei Dance Arts at the Met - June 6, 2011

ARTICLE COMING SOON - (From the Met's Website:)
"Shen Wei Dance Arts performed in the Charles Engelhard Court as part of the Concerts & Lectures department's Muriel Kallis Steinberg Newman Series. Shen Wei is an award-winning choreographer, painter, designer, and photographer known for his dramatic choreography of the opening ceremonies at the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing."

May 28, 2011

Glen Hansard Plays the Met, 5.26.11

The other night I had another amazing opportunity to take pictures for the Spectrum, a great program at the Metropolitan Museum of Art organized by Christopher Gorman and Morgan Holzer.  I've previously taken pictures for their Guster and Duke Special concerts.  This time it was songwriter, Academy Award-winner and costar of the movie "Once," Glen Hansard (the broken-hearted-Hoover fixer-suckin' guy himself!), more commonly known as one half of The Swell Season, who played a concert in the museum's Temple of Dendur exhibit.

The show began with a walk through the museum's Guitar Heroes exhibit, which featured guitars and other stringed instruments crafted by John D'Angelico, James D'Aquisto and John Monteleone.  These were some beautiful instruments - works of art themselves.

The crowd then filed into the Temple of Dendur, an ancient Egyptian site that was moved to its own giant exhibit at the museum in 1967.  The temple was amazing in itself, but it also made for a beautiful performance space.  Once the crowd was settled, and had kicked back a few beers, Morgan Holzer and Christopher Gorman raffled off 25 hand-crafted gig posters designed by Hero Design Studio, a company from Buffalo run by Mark Brickey and his wife, Beth Manos Brickey.

Glen finally worked his way through the crowd, which by now was on its feet.  He played an amazing solo acoustic set, giving off more energy with a single voice/guitar than I've seen from five-piece, so-called "rock" bands.  At one point he invited a young kid named Donovan Dwyer onstage to play a song (Christopher Gorman asked him after the set if that was planned, and Glen replied that he didn't even know the kid - he just saw him next to the stage with a guitar and invited him on up).  Unfortunately I was in the middle of changing vantage points while all this happened, so my pictures of Donovan are a little blurry/shaky, but the moment was too great; I had to include a few shots.  Hansard finished up his set sharing the stage with Mark Geary for a song, and serenading the crowd a capella with an old Irish folk song.

Once again, I found myself incredibly lucky to bear witness to another night of amazing music, performed by amazing musicians, and put on by some pretty amazing people.  Also, by some twist of fate, I was asked to share my photos with Brooklyn Vegan, a very cool live music photo website.  It's nights like these that help me validate all the stress and early hours of working for a yearbook photo company (that and the steady paychecks), and inspires me to keep taking pictures.  Many thanks to everyone involved for the opportunity!

Anyway, without further ado, here are my shots from the night, including a hefty amount of HDR images.  Hope you all like!

Trying My Hand at HDR

After several years of trying, I've finally figured out how to make an HDR image (and by "figured out," I mean "downloaded a program that cranks them out with the push of a button).  Like a kid who can't put down his new toy, it's been hard to stop making HDR images.  Below is a gallery of images I've made in the past week or so.  I'm letting myself go a little nuts with these pictures now, trying to get the excitement out of my system before I make a bad habit of relying on HDR.  As cool as these pictures look, and as excited as I am to finally make them myself, I think it's important to keep the foundation of my work strictly journalistic.  Otherwise I'll start feeling more like Cary Elwes and his sell-out storm chasers with the fancy black SUV's than Bill Paxton and his ragtag bunch of purist storm chasers (thanks for the pop culture reference, Twister).  

That being said, I am still very much a fan of HDR images, and I look forward to making more (in moderation) in the future.  I'll keep updating this post as a sort of HDR portfolio.  Hope you like - enjoy!

May 18, 2011

From the Vault: Coldplay '08

The other night I was digging around my hard drive for an old picture (I consider "old" any picture dating back to before my great Photoshop-to-Aperture transition of 2009), and I came across these pictures of Coldplay performing for the Today Show back in the summer of '08.  This was right after I bought my first DSLR - before I had a website, or even a facebook page for my photography.  I don't often go through my old pictures looking to republish or repost, but in this case I'm glad I did.  I was able to polish up a few, and even include them in some portfolios.

Apr 10, 2011

Hanging Around the Met

     The past few of months have been pretty interesting.  On one hand, we had some nasty flooding, but on the other hand, I've had some amazing opportunities as an aspiring/up-and-coming/dude-with-a-camera photographer.
     It all started when I got tickets to see Guster perform at the Met with artist Jon Sarkin.  Through a back-and-forth of emails with the co-chairs of Spectrum, I was able to attend the sound check and take pictures backstage.  I had originally just wanted to bring my camera to the show, but now I got to meet the band, watch them rehearse, and eat their food!  My pictures from the evening ended up getting posted on the Metropolitain Museum of Art's websitetheir flickr page and Jon Sarkin's website.  Besides the obvious excitement about all this exposure, I feel incredibly lucky just to have had the chance to meet these incredible people -- some of whom just happen to be in one of my favorite bands ever.

     A few weeks later I was invited back to the Met to take pictures at a similar event.  This time an irish musician named Duke Special was playing original songs inspired by photos from the Met's temporary exhibit, "Stieglitz, Steichen, Strand," which showcased the iconic photos of Alfred Stieglitz, Edward Steichen and Paul Strand.  The show consisted of Duke Special playing songs while the photos were displayed on several screens.  Again, I found myself backstage with some more incredibly interesting people.

     Embarrassingly, I had never been to the Met just to look around and see the art.  So finally, a few days ago, I hopped back over (rather, tunneled under) the Hudson River one day after work to check out the museum and take some pictures for their Get Closer contest.  The point of the contest was to submit a picture of a complete piece of art as well as a close-up detail shot.  I had a lot of fun with the assignment; here's the piece I ultimately submitted,
Chuck Close's "Lucas," 1986-87
Oil and pencil on canvas.
and here are some others that I almost submitted:
Andy Warhol's "Still Life," 1976
Acrylic and silkscreen on canvas.

Chuck Close's "Mark," 1978-79
Acrylic on canvas.

Georg Baselitz's "Adler im Fenster," 1982
Oil on canvas.

Jackson Pollock's "Autumn Rhythm (Number 30)," 1950
Enamel on canvas.

     I'm currently waiting to hear back about the contest, but in any case I've finally been to the Met, and I've made some pretty cool diptychs!

     That pretty much sums it up.  The big highlights of 2011 so far: flood, Guster, Duke Special, Metropolitan Museum of Art.  Other than that I've just been working, living on the cheap and saving up for my long, expensive shopping list of out-of-date-equipment-in-need-of-replacing.  Assuming you've read all the way to the bottom, thanks for reading!

Until next time!

If God is Willing and Da Creek Don't Rise

     Last month much of the Northeast US got hit with some really nasty floods.  Major causes included heavy rains and a particularly high amount of snowmelt.  In our neighborhood of Westwood, New Jersey we had an interesting additional factor.
     Many of the houses on my block, including mine, are situated in a flood zone.  There is a creek running behind the houses that will often overflow with heavy rain.  It's not unusual for one or several homes to get water in their backyards every once in a while.  The real damage occurs when United Water, which operates the Woodcliff Lake reservoir, decides to open their flood gates to protect their facilities.  The sudden surge of water will often, as was the case on March 7-8, send water flowing through yards and into houses.
     Usually homes in the affected areas will get a flood warning or a reverse 9-1-1 call when these situations are anticipated, but this evening there was little to no warning.  Luckily I was still awake in my basement-level bedroom around 2:30am, when I noticed water coming under the doors.  Had I been asleep at a reasonable hour I likely would have awoken to a nasty wet surprise.  I immediately began moving valuables upstairs and waking the rest of the family.  From there we were racing against the continuously rising water to save anything salvageable.  By the time the sun rose the water had finally begun to recede.
     One of my first instincts was to grab my camera and start taking pictures -- mostly for insurance purposes.  But before long I realized there was a story unfolding as firefighters showed up on the scene to assist people trapped in houses, neighbors began helping each other, and reporters arrived with the sunlight to interview fatigued residents in their soaked pajamas.  I decided to capture as much of the ordeal as possible while being very much part of the story myself.
I was glad I remembered this tip one of my photojournalism professors taught us for shooting in the rain: Wrap your camera in a zip-lock bag, cut a hole for the lens, and wrap everything in a rubber band.  Thanks, Professor Lippincott!
     I narrowed my pictures down to what I hope is a cohesive photo story, although I'm sure I missed some important shots while I was busy trying to save my Goosebumps books and guitar amps from flood water.

Feb 28, 2011

An Evening with Guster and Jon Sarkin

Last Friday I had the amazing opportunity of shooting a sold out show at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, featuring the music of Guster and the art of folk artist Jon Sarkin.  I have been a huge Guster fan since the early 2000's, so this was a bit of a dream come true for me.  While I was unfamiliar with Sarkin's work, throughout the evening I quickly became a fan of his as well.  I also had the pleasure of meeting a number of interesting people, including Spectrum co-chairs Morgan Holzer and Chris Gorman; string players K Ishibashi and Dana Leong; and Amy Ellis Nutt, a writer for the Newark Star Ledger.  All in all a pretty unforgettable evening - one I hope I was able to capture adequately in photos!

Below are some of my best shots from the night.  (I'm using Flickr slideshows for the time being, until I can upgrade my Photoshelter account.)