This was quite an unusual show. These fair-skinned, Skandinavians put on something of an orchestral, alternative rock show. The stage was littered with mic stands and other obstructions, and the photographers were required to stay far against the sides, hugging the stage. We did get the switch sides one time (by going all the way around the back of the floor), a maneuver that took a half song and cutting in to our three song limit.

The crazy shooting conditions are reflected in the resulting images. See the gallery on gallery.sbbowl.com.

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New Order opened the concert season this year with their before-their-time version of early 80's dance techno. The lighting was really tough: only very dim, blue stage lights. It was fun to watch, but I really pushed the limits of my cameras.

Johnny Marr (former co-songwriter with Morrissey and guitarist of The Smiths) opened the show while there was more ambient light. This guy has style, any way you slice it.

Check out the full gallery on gallery.sbbowl.com.

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Crazy, amazing lighting donned the stage at the Santa Barbara Bowl for the Postal Service. Keyboardist and techno noisemaker, Jimmy Tamborello, grew up in locally, and he joined Death Cab for Cutie front man Ben Gibbard on stage. There was a whole lot of energy on stage, and Ben was jumping all over the place from one instrument to another, making the shooting conditions often challenging and other times simply overwhelming.

Opening the show was Big Freedia, a male-bodied person who refers to himself as, "she." When his dancers started up their moves, it literally made me blush. I simply couldn't take very many photos because the subject matter was so wild.

Photographers got to shoot from the pit (against the stage). Some of the photos are restricted, so at left is a photo of the stage, not the musicians. Please check out the full gallery on gallery.sbbowl.com.

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I got to shoot this show with Canon's new 500mm/f4 lens. I could hardly believe how light it was, and it produced very sharp results, even with a "doubler" attached (2X Extender III). Originally told I would be shooting from the soundboard, I was pleased to later learn that I could shoot from the ADA (handicap) section.

The last couple times I shot Steely Dan (and the Dukes of Sept), it was in July, when the sun was still high during the first three songs I got to shoot. This year, they played in late August, which provided me with enough darkness to get some more dramatic stage/spot lighting.

Typically, it's difficult to get Becker and Fagen in the same shot as they are normally positioned on opposite sides of the stage, but this year I was able to get a nice shot of them near enough to each other, with the horn section between them.

Check out the gallery on Photographed from the ADA (handicap) section, I shot this show with an amazing 500mm lens.

Published in Photo Blog
21-Jul-2012

Yanni @ SB Bowl

On July 21st, I photographed Yanni at the Santa Barbara Bowl. This long-time, New Age style jazz pianist has been a world-wide phenomenon for two decades. Many people who are unfamiliar with his work might not be willing to give him the credit he deserves. To see him perform is a different story.

No, he's not a rock star. He is, however, an orchestral maestro, a master of keyboards and piano, who can lead a stage full of performers to create real, positive emotion through his music.

Check out the gallery on gallery.sbbowl.com.

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Fagen and friends latest musical rendition is now a trio of exceptional artists. But really, there's more to it than that.

Donald Fagen is now touring with long-time collaborator, Michael McDonald, who sings backup on many top-hit Steely Dan songs. The Dukes of September Rhythm Revue adds Boz Scaggs to that dynamic duo, rounding out the bill for some great '70's style smooth jazz. Accompanying the trio are several Steely Dan collaborators, making a full-stage of great musicians (ten total artists).

I had to shoot from behind the soundboard, front-of-house (FOH), as it's called. I used a 400mm/2.8L lens with my newly acquired 2x Extender III teleconverter, which doubles the focal length of the lens for a penalty of a bit of sharpness and two stops of light. Add this to my 1D Mark IV body, which has a 1.3x crop factor, and I was achieving about 1040mm of reach with f/5.6. I shot plenty of shots at f/8, however, to minimize the loss of sharpness with the teleconverter.

The show lighting was not great. This is early July, where the sun is still shining at 7pm, so it's still daylight during the first three songs, which is when I get to shoot. Add to that the fact that Fagen and McDonald sat at their keyboards during those songs, and their mic stands were blocking their faces most of the time. From the soundboard area, there's only a few feet to change position, giving very little dynamics to the objects. When you're up close, a few inches can change things, but from 300 feet, moving my location several feet does nothing.

Still, I was pretty happy with what I was able to accomplish. That is until a few songs after I was done shooting, and the curtain opened up to a beautifully lit stage, which I was not permitted to capture. Even camera phones were being heavily regulated. Oh, well, at least I got to see the show.

Check out the gallery at gallery.sbbowl.com.

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Another great show at the Santa Barbara Bowl!

Ben came out solo, playing his lap, slide guitar. His violinist accompanied him for half a song. Then, after two songs, he switched to an acoustic guitar. The shooting conditions were meager because he was seated pretty far back, and he had two mic stands in front of him (one for vocals and the other for his guitar). There really was only one location from which to get "the shot." This is why the variety in this gallery is small.

Fitz and the Tantrums opened the show, and they are a very dynamic act. The lighting was limited to some direct sunlight with no stage or spot lighting. This is a challenging way to shoot, but I still got some photos I'm really happy with. Noelle is a tall slender black woman, and for this show, she donned a bright red dress and bleached blonde hair. She's a fantastic performer and lots of fun to photograph!


Check out the gallery on gallery.sbbowl.com

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Wow! This was an amazing show for lovers of hard rock 'n' roll.

Samy Hagar, Joe Satriani, Michael Anthony (Bass for Van Halen) and Kenny Aronoff played a powerhouse show at the Santa Barbara Bowl. There was lots of good action, amazing sounds and pleny of crowd interaction. These guys are all pros, and they know how to get down and jam without missing a note.


I got so many great shots, that I had to limit what I put on the Bowl's gallery website. I think I limited it to less than 80 images. Needless to say, I had a great time shooting the show.

Opening for Chickenfoot was Black Stone Cherry, another powerful hard rock band with great stage presence and hard core rock 'n' roll sound.

See the entire gallery here: gallery.sbbowl.com

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I look forward to the KJEE Summer Round-up each year because it's a full day of enjoying fun music. This year there were five bands playing, one after the next. That gives me an opportunity to shoot fifteen songs! I'm in heaven :)

Headlining the show was Silversun Pickups, but I think it was really a double headline because the acclaimed alternative music band, Garbage, was on right before them. Both were great performances. Rounding out the show were local favorites, Gardens & Villa and Grouplove. Somewhere in between, we heard from The Naked and Famous. Like I said, the whole six hour show was a blast.

I shot over two thousand photos. All the best can be seen at gallery.sbbowl.com here.

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Out touring for their 50th anniversary, the original lineup of The Beach Boys came for a fun night of great surf oldies at The Bowl.

The show was really fun, but the shooting conditions were very poor. I was allowed only two songs, which translated into about five minutes of photography. To make things worse, I was required to be on my knees the entire time, right up front. Now normally right up front is good, but in this case, I'd rather have been at the soundboard. The band was spread out along the entire stage width, so it was virtually impossible to get one shot containing all the members.

I compromised by doing a fisheye shot of the entire stage, but wide angle lenses make anything which isn't' very close, very small. Also difficult was the fact that Brian Wilson was on a grand piano with his head facing away from the photographers. From stage left, there might have been a head-on shot of him, but from my knees, the piano completely obscured him.

Lastly, the first two songs occurred right as the sun was dropping behind the hills, so half of the group were in direct sunlight, and the other half were in the shade. Oye! The bottom line is that there was just not enough time to get every shot I wanted.

Anyway, there are some good shots, so check out the gallery on the gallery.sbbowl.com

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