Florence + the Machine came back to the Santa Barbara Bowl again this year and played to a sold out house. This was easily in the top few performances of the year, and Florence Welch was truly humbled by the warm welcome she got. You can't fake the sincerity I saw in her eyes and smile when she thanked the cheering crowd for coming to see her.
Although I was stuck in the same spot on the side of the photo pit for the entire three songs I shot, Florence is so dynamic, jumping around stage and never sitting still, that I had plenty of opportunities to capture all different lights and angles of her performing. In fact, I had a hard time narrowing it down to the 40 images from this show posted on sbbowl.com/photos. My favorite photos of her were horizontal, but those aren't optimum for this news page, so be sure to check them out in the Bowl's gallery.
I was glad that this year, she had no restrictive contract to sign. Opening the show was Ghost of a Saber Tooth Tiger, featuring John Lennon' son, Sean Lennon.
Robert Plant returned to the Santa Barbara Bowl with his most recent backup band, The Sensational Space Shifters. This is the same band he toured with a couple years ago, and they are superb, nailing the classic Led Zeppelin tunes to a tee. Last time they were here, I was able to shoot from the ADA section, but this time, I was stuck at the soundboard. I did get three full songs and was able to get some decent images. The lighting wasn't fantastic, as far as photography goes, but I still got some good stuff. I had to convert some of them to black & white to bring back detail that was lost by single-color floods, like the bright reds they used.
J.D. McPherson opnened the show, and I got to shoot them from in the photo pit.
Check out the full gallery at sbbowl.com/photos.
Featuring Susan Tedeschi and Derek Trucks, TTB rocked down the house with very special guests, Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings. The two performances were genuinely great and included an opening set by Doyal Bramhall III. During an encore, all three bands took the stage. I was allowed to shoot the first three songs from all three acts, plus the encore, all in the photo pit. The lighting was generally excellent, except that Ms. Jones could have been better lit while they were all on stage together. I did get some great shots, and you can see them on sbbowl.com/photos.
I had an opportunity to shoot TTB late last year at the Arlignton Theatre, so I had a pretty good idea of what to expect. Both were great shows with good photo opportunities. I've also shot Mr. Bramhall before, when he performed at the Experience Hendrix tribute tour; that show was also at the Arlington, back in 2010.
Legend rock 'n rollers, Aerosmith graced the Santa Barbara Bowl with a smashing performance. I wish I could have shot the drum solo and encore as they were quite a spectacle.
I did get to shoot three songs, though, from behind the ADA section. I had to choose one side, and I picked stage right (house left). I shot most of the show with my 400/f4, but it wasn't easy. The crowd in front of me were dancing and waving their arms in the air, blocking many of my best shooting opportunities. Otherwise, I did get some great shots, but they are restricted form personal use, so you'll need to visit sbbowl.com/photos to see the gallery.
Living Colour opened the show, and they, too, rocked the house.
Double-header singer-songwriters, David Gray and Amos Lee performed at the Santa Barbara Bowl. During their tour, they took turns headlining, and at the Bowl, Amos went first. An early starting July show, Mr. Lee was in direct sunlight, which worked well against the charcoal black background of the stage. I got to shoot the first three songs of each from an uncrowded photo pit, but right after Lee's performance, I snuck in a backstage shot of him hanging out with some of the users. Mr. Gray began on the piano, then grabbed the mic stand walked out to the edge of the stage with it, right in the middle of the second song.
Opening the show were three talented sisters called, Joseph (from Joseph, OR).
See the gallery at sbbowl.com/photos.
Aretha Franklin came back to the Santa Barbara Bowl to perform her hits and other "diva" standards. The performance sound was good, but from the point of view of a photographer, the lighting was challenging. I had to shoot from the soundboard and only got the first 60 seconds of each of the first three songs. Three minutes is not a whole lot of time to get everything figured out in those conditions. My images were not superb, to say the least, and I opted to print, for the Bowl, one of her walking out on stage.
The images are also restricted by contract, so you'll have to visit sbbowl.com/photos to see any of them.
Oddly enough, a comedian, Sarah Tiana, opened the show, and she was quite funny and also in great light.
Local artist, Jackson Browne returned to the Santa Barbara Bowl a couple days ago with his full band. Jackson regularly plays around Santa Barbara, always to benefit a local charity. Tonight's show benefitted Sanctuary Centers of Santa Barbara, to help people with mental health conditions.
The show was classic Jackson, but the shooting conditions were about as bad as they get. I was restricted to only two short songs from the left floor wing (far left, stage right); from that vantage point, most of the band was obscured by one thing or another, and I had to wait for Jackson to turn his head pretty far to the right, in order to get a decent shot. To make matter worse, this was an August, 7pm show with no opening act. Translation: still too much daylight for concert lighting, but otherwise, flat, dim, shadow light on stage. The photos aren't very interesting from an artistic point of view.
Anyway, you can see the small gallery on sbbowl.com/photos.
On the heels of a new album, Incubus put on another great concert of their own brand of indie, hard rock. As always, their light show was a significant part of their performance. This year, the lighting on the artists was a little dimmer and more challenging to photograph than in years past. I think this was my third time shooting them, and I had some good opportunities from the photo pit, but I was restricted to the sides only.
See the entire gallery on sbbowl.com/photos.
Ben Harper & the Innocent Criminals returned to the Bowl for an anxious crowd. Gill Landry opened the show. The lighting was bright, brilliant and colorful, making for some great photography. I shot from the photo pit for the first three songs, acquiring plenty of great shots.
Checkout the full gallery on sbbowl.com/photos.
Mark Knopfler played to a sold out house at the Santa Barbara Bowl a couple days ago. His performance was as classic as his style of rock. There was only a small group of photographers, but we all shot from behind the ADA (handicap) section. There wasn't a lot of wiggle room, so all my images are from the same angle. Nonetheless, I think I was able to properly capture Mark's demeanor.
Images are restricted from use on my website, but you can see the gallery on sbbowl.com/photos.