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wshaffer

June 2017

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On a recent visit to Point Reyes, I snapped a photo of some excerpts from the Keeper's Log:

1874, July 19, During the night the English ship Warrior Queen went ashore in a thick fog on the beach, north of Point Reyes (no lives lost).

1874, July 20, Mr. Lincoln, first assistant, left the station for the purpose of visiting the wrecked ship and did not return at night - he is supposed to be drowned.

1875, August 13, 1st Assistant Mr. Rane refused to work over 1/2 day. Said he would not work over 1/2 day for any man in the Lighthouse service.

1875, November 4, 3rd Assistant Parker left station at 9:00 a.m. without asking permission and remained absent until 6:00 p.m. on November 5. ... Took government horse with him and returned to station drunk and unable to perform his duty that night.

1876, Novermber 1, 3rd Asst J.C. Baker resigns and leaves the station complaining the duties are too heavy for him, an old man to perform.

1879 April 6, The first good day for outside painting for a month.

1889, January 30, 2nd Assistant left station at 1:00 p.m. crazy and was taken by 1st Assistant and his brother to Olema and turned over to a constable.

1891, September 16, Cleaned lens and clockwork.

1891, October 8, Fog watched stopped at 10:30 a.m. - 61 hour run.

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I managed to get some nice photos at Saturday's Deathstars/Moonspell/Septicflesh show in Oakland. I'm not sure how much I can credit any increasing skill on my part (though I think I'm getting slightly better at getting things in focus), and how much it depends on factors beyond my control (lighting, lack of a smoke machine, how close I'm able to get to the stage, tendency of particular performers to obligingly stand still and strike dramatic poses.)

Here are a few of my favorites:
Skinny Disco from Deathstars:


More below the cut )
In the meantime, here are some beautiful photos of the right arm of Gregor Mackintosh, lead singer of Vallenfyre.

The lighting for this show wasn't ideal - the lighting guy used lots of solid color, interspersed with occasional white strobe lights. I have some hopes of being able to rescue the strobe shots with some editing - straight off the camera, they look really overexposed, but maybe Lightroom can fix that. (It's not as simple as *just* tweaking the exposure settings, but I think maybe if I adjust the exposure and the color balance simultaneously, it might work.)

I tweaked the heck out of the exposure and the contrast on the first photo in Lightroom. I think most of the stuff in the background is smoke from the smoke machine and not random noise.


Camera woes

Mar. 30th, 2015 12:53 pm
wshaffer: (doom)
A couple of San Francisco music venues have recently either changed their camera policy or changed how they enforce it. The rule is "If you want to bring in a professional-quality camera, you must have a press pass," but "professional-quality" is now being defined as "has a detachable lens." Which means that my Sony NEX camera, a compact camera with a detachable lens, is now falling foul of the policy.

When I went to a show at the Fillmore back in February, I left the camera at home because I called the venue and they told me they *probably* wouldn't let me take the camera into the show. More recently, I was at a show in a venue in the city where I've used the camera several times, and this time security sent me to talk to the venue manager, who initially told me I'd have to leave the camera at coat check, and then, when no one else could hear, told me I could keep it and take a few photos as long as I was "discreet". (I'm not naming the venue because I don't want him to get in trouble for being nice enough to bend the rules for me.)

The venues are insistent that they're only enforcing policies set by the artists, but the policies seem to be far more venue-dependent than artist-dependent.

If I were to hustle hard enough for it, I could probably wrangle the occasional press pass. Not to the most high-profile shows, but I've been to plenty of shows where the obscure local band that's first on the bill didn't have anyone doing photo coverage for them or clearly had "a friend of the band with a decent camera" doing photo coverage for them. However, if I were to start taking it that seriously, I'd probably feel obligated to get a properly professional DSLR camera and learn how to use it. So, that would be a big investment of time, energy, and money.

Or I could try to find a non-interchangeable-lens camera that can handle people moving around relatively fast in the dark. I'm not very hopeful on that, but if you know of a compact digital camera that can handle ISOs of 800 and up without the picture turning into a grainy mess, I'd love to hear about it.

Or I could just resign myself to the fact that I won't get decent photos of most shows. I *like* taking photos of musicians, but it's very much a secondary pleasure to the pleasure of experiencing live music itself.
I went to a show at the Oakland Metro Thursday night that featured five bands: Carach Angren, Abysmal Dawn, Inquisition, Septicflesh, and Deicide. Unfortunately, my camera battery crapped out halfway through Abysmal Dawn's set, so I didn't get any photos of Inquisition (who provided me with some of my favorite ever live photos when I saw them on the Metal Alliance Tour) or Septicflesh (whose singer wears some rather marvelous body armor on stage that I'd love to photograph). However, to compensate, I got some nice shots of Carach Angren, in particular.

This one illustrates why I love taking concert photos. It's not a technically perfect photo, but the halo effect of the keyboardist's hair, his expression, and even the way the autofocus perversely chose the sleeve of his coat as the focal point are things that I love. And I'd never be able to stage any of those effects deliberately.
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I don't really have proper photo editing/viewing software with me here, but I'm going to try to share a few that don't need much tinkering. This is a bit of ceiling decoration from Southwark cathedral - now removed from the ceiling and displayed at picture-taking height. I believe it is supposed to represent Satan swallowing Judas.

Daniel and I went to see Eklipse, Delain, and Kamelot the Friday before last, so I got a chance to try out my new camera again.

By the way, I've taken to posting my concert reviews over on the blog I started for my podcast, Stumbling in the Dark: http://stumbledark.wordpress.com. (Here's my review of the Kamelot show; and here's my review of the Mission show.)

Pics of the latest show below the cut )
As a kind of belated birthday present, I bought myself a decent digital camera, on the theory that since I can't seem to resist snapping pictures of performing rock bands, maybe I should invest in actually getting some decent quality photos out of it. I settled on the Sony NEX-5r, which seemed to offer a decent combination of large lens/sensor (for best performance in low-light conditions) with compact size (I don't want to lug a giant camera around a concert venue) at a price I was willing to pay.

I had a chance to test this out last night when I went to see the Mission U.K. perform at the Regency Ballroom. (A full post about the concert will follow later - for now, I'll just say that it was amazing.) Especially considering that I'd spent about 10 minutes familiarizing myself with the camera's basic operation and relied on its auto settings, it did rather well. (I was also lucky enough to snag a spot in the front row, so I was just a few paces behind where the press photographers were doing their work.)

A few pictures below the cut:
Pictures ahoy! )