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Elaine Paige, Good, Great and Bad

elaine Paige eftpos

Blogs as well as Facebook provide a platform for airing views, whether it be what I classify as political BS, or how bad Starbucks Coffee happens to be etc.

This is a very rare rant for me but currently I am highly brassed off and it has NOTHING to do with photography. It is all to do with VALUE in the entertainment industry.

Over recent years there has been numerous posts on websites and social media by musicians who quite rightly complain about establishments and venues who are not prepared to pay reasonable fees for performances.

Yes it is extremely hard for musicians to get gigs now and get paid for what they are worth. I do my best to help, providing artists with high quality images at NO cost, to do with whatever they wish.

 

People who LISTEN to music like myself are always prepared to pay to see people we like and respect. We are blessed in New Zealand at the value we can normally find to see wonderful performers.

As an example, in 2018 Twenty dollars to see the great Roy Phillips (ex Peddlers).

Five dollars (members) and fifteen dollars public to see Ray Woolf sing his heart out at Auckland Jazz and Blues club. Plus many others PLUS those who perform free.

WELL, last night 22nd January four of us paid Six hundred and thirty four dollars and four cents to see Elaine Page at Bruce Mason Theatre in Takapuna.

Now here is the good and great:

  1. We did not know Elaine Page was performing there. We found out an hour earlier while at a restaurant nearby. Wow, we could not believe it, off to get the very best tickets we could, if there happened to be any left. It was beyond belief that someone like me did not know this world class performer was here in Auckland. I had been lucky enough to see her perform in London many years ago.
  2. The excitement was bubbling and we could not believe our luck to find out last minute and get what were without doubt, the best seats in the house.
  3. The opening act was a set performed by the “John G Smith” Band, the backing group for Elaine Paige. They were spectacular, wonderful musicians and YES they used real instruments. The opening number one of my favorites “Mountain Dance” written by the great Dave Grusin. No complaints at all, thirty minutes of great music by a superb group, in a nice theatre and at that stage a good atmosphere.
  4. The main act and second half was the great Elaine Paige backed by John G Smith and his group. This lady is still going strong, a wonderful voice with terrific repertoire of music. Songs written by people such as Jimmy Webb, Harry Nilsson and others. Her performance included most of the Beatles tunes found on the Sgt Pepper Album. The final song was “Memory” and yes no doubt the voice is still there. HOWEVER read the next bit:

Here is the bad:

THE SECOND HALF OF THE SHOW WAS PERFORMED WITH THE AUDITORIUM LIGHTS ON.

There was virtually no dimming of lights after half time yet the first half was performed in darkness with a well lit stage. There was a row of spots along the ceiling directly above our seats which were too bright and reflected off our eye-wear making it difficult to see the stage which we could do in the first half.

There were many grumpy people including our friends who felt they had paid good money to be let down by a dumb decision to keep the lights on over the audience. The sad thing is Elaine Paige would have had a full view of the many empty rows of seats.

This show was badly promoted (if at all). For artists of this calibre and a woman who has led such a spectacular career over many years deserves an audience of more than just a few hundred people.

Despite me laying a complaint with the management on behalf of our friends and others around us nothing was done about the lights. In addition despite the most professional performance by a world acclaimed artist many people were expressing their dissatisfaction at the ned of the concert over the bad lighting.

In my opinion if there happened to be a request by the performer to leave the lights on (which is what I was told by management), was a bad decision.

All of a sudden the VALUE of our seats were diminished, it was not the same experience as the first half which was performed with the auditorium being in full darkness and a nicely lit stage.

There was no photography permitted which is OK, however at least I am able to show a copy of the ticket I paid for a great performance but disappointing experience.

After having had first hand experience promoting and marketing in my own career it requires work these days to please people, entertainers are meant to have people leave feeling happy.
Oh well I will just lay it on an promoters who I was were not even present, just a bunch of monkeys.

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Great Guitars

I am constantly being asked where to buy guitar gear. People want to know the most reliable source for online musical equipment.

To be honest the very best I can come up with it Amazon. They not only are the biggest online market place they have the biggest range of equipment you can imagine.

 
Great Guitars

A Short History of Photography

Photos through the ages

When you see videos of the early developers of photography, it is pretty funny especially in light of photography today. In those old movies, to get a picture, the camera was as big as a computer is today. The photographer had to put his head under a sheet and hold up a huge tripod which exploded with smoke and fumes to make the flash.

Today photography could not be more different. In the movies, we used to be astonished when spies had cameras in their watches or the soles of their shoes. But now it is common for almost everyone to have a camera in their phone and to be able to pull it out and snap a photo virtually anywhere.

Let’s fill in a few gaps. We can go back to the origins of the language to find that the word photography began in the Greek times and it literally means drawing with light. But the actual science of photography did not really take off until the 1800ís in this country when a fellow by the name of John Hershel applied the words photography, positives and negatives to the task of producing pictures. We had negatives of our photos from then until the dawn of digital photography in the last few years.

For most of us, though, the company Eastman Kodak is probably the one we associate most with the early developments of photography. And it was the early pioneer of photography, George Eastman that made the first advancements on the primitive methods being used until his work in 1839. A little trivia? Eastman made the name Kodak up because he wanted his company name to begin with a K.

The developments began to come along pretty routinely as photography began to mature and become more sophisticated. Color photography was developed in 1861 by a scientist named James Clark Maxwell. Up until then all photographs were black and white or monochrome. Color photography was a huge leap forward but it really did not start to move into the public arena until two brothers named Lumiere in 1907 invented the color plate.

Over the decades to follow, photography moved forward steadily and moved out of the world of science and then journalism and into each of our homes. But the revolution that has turned photography into what we know it to be today occurred in 1981 when Sony invented the first camera that worked without film. The digital age was upon us.

It was Kodak that again got the lead on the marketplace by getting the first digital camera out on the market in 1990 when they developed the Kodak DCS 100. As with all technology, early digital cameras were large (by today’s standards) and much more expensive than we are used to now.

Innovation in the field of photography has continued to march almost as fast as people could keep up. When digital cameras were offered that gave us a port to be able to download them to our computers, the internet explosion of imagery was fueled.

Further development coming virtually every year since 1990 included the rapid and phenomenal expansion of memory in digital cameras along with the concept of swappable storage drives. This changed the way people took pictures because now the number of pictures someone could take was virtually limitless. The expansion of memory also gave developers the ability to add video capture to the same devices as were used for photography so that virtually anyone could become a cameraman with that tiny camera that could by this time fit in their shirt pocket. Much of the fun of internet sites like YouTube can be attributed to the ability of the average citizen to take video anywhere, anytime and at no cost to them.

The photography and video industry has had to do a lot of adjusting to learn how to service this market that was changing at speeds unimaginable by George Eastman a century before. The affordable availability of quality color printers that enabled people to print their photographs at home was a boon to the amateur camera buff but a blow to the photography industry.

But to their credit, the industry has kept up. But we can be sure that the developments are just getting underway. Who knows what new technical wizardry is ahead for the photography world. It is sure to be a fun ride, no matter what the future holds.
Best Cameras for Concert Photography

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Perth Happenings

Fazioli Piano

A Home Studio to die for:

My great friend Nunzio Mondia from Perth Western Australia has created a masterpiece.

Normally a masterpiece for Nunzio is a composition carefully structured on his Fazioli piano. However he has gone one step further and built a state of the art recording studio behind his home.

Nunzio was able to obtain council permission to build something in my humble opinion which could rival most commercial recording studios anywhere in the world. The attention to detail is beyond belief, the materials used are astounding and above all I can honestly say I have never experienced sound anywhere as I have in that environment.

The main live room has a presence to it like nothing I have ever personally witnessed, despite spending my life in the audio business, the attention to lighting as well as the great smell of gorgeous Australian timbers really adds to the excitement. I was fortunate enough to experience the control room before any commercial sound gear had been installed only a stereo unit, comprising of a pair of Spendor powered loudspeakers fed by a basic Pioneer CD player with a recording of Elvis Presley completely blew my mind. Sitting in what hifi enthusiasts would call “The Sweet Spot” created a feeling and sensation that Elvis had definitely not left the building. He was there in person, and anyone with their eyes closed would have truly imagined the same. A few well known artists have already been privy to a visit and none have left without being overwhelmed at the effort, thought, creativity, workmanship and genius dedicated to this project. The design itself was created by Nunzio as was a great deal of the construction and hard labour. Many good people providing their skills, assistance and generosity can feel very honored to be involved in such a project.

This is not only a credit to Nunzio but a statement to the audio industry that music production is absolutely alive and well. The ideas being created for the way this masterpiece will be used is surely going to open some eyes all over the world. Great artists will certainly perform here, (some already have). The picture was taken of me through a window looking into the main live room. The Fazioli piano sits there in all of it’s glory and will no doubt provide enormous pleasure to many people for years to come.

Nunzio Mondia

 

Concert photography-Shooting with changing lighting,

 

Concerts with Changing Lights

When photographing live performances in small venues where the lighting changes continuously, try using Manual Exposure and Auto ISO Sensitivity Control. Auto ISO Sensitivity Control allows the camera to adjust ISO sensitivity automatically if optimal exposure cannot be achieved at the value currently selected by the user.

To use Auto ISO Sensitivity Control, go to the Photo shooting menu and select Auto ISO sensitivity control in ISO sensitivity settings. Highlight On and press Ok. Choose the maximum sensitivity. Let’s try ISO 12800. This lets the camera raise ISO sensitivity as high as 12800 if required. Next, adjust shutter speed and aperture. You’ll probably want to set shutter speed fast enough to help avoid motion blur. Here, we shot in Manual Exposure mode, at a shutter speed of 1/160 of a second and an aperture of F4. This feature, which takes advantage of the high ISO sensitivities offered by digital SLRs, will help you get shots that perfectly capture your creative intent.

As found on Youtube

Steve Hilliar Concert Photography

Concert Photography Part One

 

I get a lot of requests to talk about concert photography so I decided to find some existing video that has already been created on the subject.

Anthony Morganti has made a three-part miniseries on concert photography.

In the first part he talks about why you might want to become a concert photographer and what you could expect to gain from it and how you would go about doing it. In part two he talks about equipment and the settings for the equipment and in part three you are going to actually process a few images and find out why would you want to become a concert photographer. Here is a transcript of what Anthony has to say:

This is probably very personal and it’s different for just about everyone, I only could speak from my own perspective I’ve always been a lover of music and years ago when I was really starting out as a professional photographer I decided I wanted to be a concert photographer.

I looked into all different ways to getting access to venues, when I figured out how it’s done and I actually got in, I was able to take pictures of a performer or a band and now I had these images what do you do with them?

Well what’s the part what can you expect to gain from it?  I’ll tell you right off the bat you’re probably not going to make a living at it, it’s not the type of photography usually that a photographer could make a living, yet there’s a few that do it. I mean it is possible but it’s very difficult and I would say don’t expect to make a lot of money from it, what you’ll find is that it might not even be worth the actual time that you spend doing it, you could make money doing other things in photography so to be a concert photographer it’s really about the love of the art the love of doing it you love the music you love taking the pictures and you love that type of photography.

If that is you then you should be a concert photographer and try it out. How do you gain access to the venue’s?

Well there’s three different ways to actually do it and this first way is fading out a little bit, meaning in the past I could contact a venue itself and I could say, you know that you have YouTube playing on this night I’d like a Press Pass to take pictures of the band, they could give you a press pass and they might ask you who you’re working for. That pass may give access to take pictures of the band usually for the first three songs. That way is drying up that’s because many bands now are very protective of their brand they brand their image and they don’t want somebody else giving a photographer access to take their pictures. They want to grant the permission, they don’t want the venue to do it so most national acts particularly world acts you’re not going to be able to do it that way.

You might be able to do it for local bands in local venues, you may know a band coming through that’s not really a national band they just have maybe a local CD or EP out. You probably will be able to get in to take their picture and to tell you the truth most of those bands would be flattered that they have a photographer there to take their picture.

So that is probably the only way you’d be able to do it with these smaller local bands. The second way is you could actually embed yourself with the band meaning you befriend a band and you become their photographer and they’re going out on tour and you’re going to take pictures of them when they’re eating dinner when they’re traveling on their tour bus or their tour van you’re going to take pictures of them when they’re just hanging out playing playing, you’re going to take pictures of them when they’re performing.

You’re probably not going to be able to call up Bruce Springsteen and say; “I want to be a tour photographer for you” and he’s going to say “sure come on in”.

No you’re going to have to start out small, you’re gonna have to start out with that local band. The ones who might have a local gig or they’re going on in this mini tour where they’re doing a few cities in their state or area, they’re going to be traveling in a van and you’re going to get to tag along with them and do these images you’re probably not going to get paid for.

It’s a matter of fact you’re probably going to have to foot your own bill pay for your own meals and things like that, but the hope is that this band makes it big, you’re their buddy and you keep going on and you hopefully get employed by them eventually to become their official photographer.

The third way is probably the most popular way, you contact a band that is going to be coming into your city to play a show, you usually would go through the website and you’d look for either the band management or their publicist and you would fire off an email to them.

You would say that you’re requesting a press pass. Now the way to do it is you want to make the email short as possible because these people are busy. To tell you the truth you’re a necessary evil they don’t really don’t want to be bothered with, so try to be as professional, short and to the point in the email as possible, in the subject line put a press pass request, add the city so let’s say it’s Buffalo press pass request Buffalo New York and put the date of the show August 14 2016 that way the person that is reading it knows that you need a press pass and you might need it in two weeks or you might need it in three months. They know how urgent the email might be after that in the body of the email if you know the person’s name definitely use their name.

As found on Youtube

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Tommy Adderley

Tommy Adderley was a well known singer and entertainer who sadly passed away on February 5th 1993. Tommy had immigrated to New Zealand many years earlier and become well known very quickly. His ability to sing and play the harp was unequaled in this country.
During 1985 during Queens birthday weekend Tommy along with others such as Roger Fox created the Southern Cross Jazz Festival. Many guests such as the great Midge Marsden, Jacqui Fitzgerald, Beaver, Frank Gibson’s Space Case, The Queen City Big Band, and many more appeared on the bill. The event that particular year was held at the old Mon Desir Hotel in Takapuna, Auckland New Zealand which is no longer there, having been replaced by apartments.

Here is a picture of Tommy, with Brian Smith on Saxophone and the sensational Billy Christian on Bass Guitar. The proceeds from this event were given to charity, and in this case it was the Wilson Home for crippled children.

 

 

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Peter Caulton

Peter Caulton another sensational New Zealand entertainer was sadly farewelled today in Auckland.

One of the real great New Zealand artists who deserved far more recognition in this country passed away on March 13th 2018. A former member of Stage Door Trio, Country Flyers, and Good News, Peter Caulton performed regularly at local pubs and concerts. He was far better known in Germany where he spent many years entertaining troops and of course locals. He made many appearances on television shows as Happen Inn, Country Touch, and Studio One.

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Sony RX100

Hank Marvin Gypsy Jazz

Hank Marvin

In 2013 I met these incredible people and we have seen each other on many occasions since. Hank Marvin (ex Shadows) and his incredible ensemble of talented musicans reside in Perth Western Australia. As well as their main gallery of photos in my portfolio I thought a little reminder on the blog was valid. I hope you enjoy these photos as much as I have loved taking them.