It’s hard to lose one cat, much less two in the space of four weeks. Dizzy was our cat for a few years, but a heart murmur and liver failure took him very suddenly. He never warmed up to me, but he was a best friend to Heather. Almost every night, I’d walk into the bedroom to find him right next to her, enjoying a belly rub or just being in her presence. He would see me, give me a look that said, “Oh, I see your other man decided to show up” and then saunter back under the bed.

He certainly wasn’t a people cat, but he was easy to deal with, incredibly low-maintenance, and friendly, as long as it was on his terms.

Minus the Bear at Soma 11/14/08

I was debating whether to go see Minus the Bear at Soma again. It’s just a so-many-levels-of-irritating venue. But I couldn’t pass up a chance to shoot them up close!

They have a good sense of style, I think, so why does all their t-shirts and hoodies look so ugly? I’ve seen them three times, with $20 to spend on a t-shirt in my hand, and every time, I can’t bring myself to spend the money on a shirt I know I could never wear in public.

If I was a 13 year old girl, I think Jake would be the cute one…

…but Heather thinks Dave is.

They had white tigers all over the stage. In keeping with their name and the fact that their latest album is called Planet of Ice, shouldn’t they be polar bears instead?

Cory kept throwing the double-thumbs-up sign between songs, but only after I was done shooting. I never really thought that the bass was very discernable on the albums, and it was pretty much the same at the show.

More photos available if you ask!

Photo geek notes below:

I tried a different shooting technique for this show, mainly by using Tv mode and spot meter. Being so used to shooting even dimmer places, I kept nudging the shutter speed slower and slower, and had to remind myself to keep it up around 1/80th. I think with some more practice, I could get better with freezing the action, although I am a big fan of motion blur! Next time, I’ll try to focus on one person at a time, instead of running back and forth the whole time.

So, are these any good? Be honest, I can take it.


Annuals at Soma 11/14/08

My photo pass came from the Annuals‘ PR folks, so big thanks to them
for hooking me up! This was my first time in a photo pit, so I hope you
like them!

Very cute dress. I hope she didn’t think I was trying to shoot up it.

The bass player was the most energetic one of the bunch. It’s good to see someone that into what they’re doing on stage that they don’t realize that they doing some pretty goofy moves. It’s fun to watch!

When I saw the first group photo, I could instantly tell this guy was the frontman. He has that look.

Like I said, VERY cute dress.

Yup, two drummers. It was kinda overkill for the music. It could use a 3rd guitar line, but no real need for a second drummer, who’s really just playing the same beat as the main drummer.

All in all, I liked the sound, but it got swallowed up in the cavernous room. They had a little bit of a country twang to the otherwise synth-pop. Whatever their 2nd last song was, that was my favorite. Someone know the title?

You can see/hear more of them here:

“Confessor” mp3: http://redmusic.com/streams/Annuals/confessor.mp3
“Confessor” video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WMjIQFU9nbg
Pics and more: http://sneakattackmedia.com/campaign.php?id=58

If you’d like to see more of my photos, just let me know and I’ll send a link to my full gallery.

Helms Alee at Soma 11/14/08

I got a last minute photo pass to Soma on Friday night, so this was my first chance to shoot a show with professional light and sound. The first band up was Helms Alee. Very much a grunge-inspired band. Too bad the
Soma sound washed out all the guitar into a fuzzy mess.

I love a female rhythm section…

There were only about 10 seconds that this guy didn’t have his hair hanging over his face during the first 3 songs I was allowed to shoot. I was lucky to grab this shot before it was too late.

I know I do that shot too much, but I still like it.

Just got back…

…from shooting Minus the Bear, Annuals, and Helms Alee at Soma. At least the sound was better than last time I saw MTB there, but I still felt like the oldest person in the crowd, and there was no alcohol to tame my nerves.

I am impatiently waiting for my photos to finish downloading right now, so I thought I’d jot down some thoughts. I think my first photo pass experience went well. I had the photo pit all to myself, which I’m guessing is a luxury that I don’t yet appreciate. A few things I learned:

1. Just like any live show in a small venue, there’s no point in bringing a telephoto lens. Mine is slow, and I could get plenty tight enough with my 17-55. I’ll leave it at home next time. As bright as it might seem with all the spotlights, it’s still plenty
dark, photographically. I thought that I wouldn’t have to battle for
every last photon, but I still needed my fast primes.

2. Security guards are big dudes. This was the first time I had to go up to them and ask THEM to get out of MY way. It doesn’t mean that I’d ever forget who’s in charge though. They’ve got muscles, and I’ve basically got a $1000 leash hanging around my neck. When they tap you on the shoulder, you’re done.

3. A three song photo limit per band is not enough. If anything, it should at least be the last 3 songs.

3. If you’re going to balance your camera on the edge of a 6-foot subwoofer in order to do a long exposure of the crowd, keep a VERY close eye on it. Those bass frequencies have a tendency to make objects on top scoot around until they fall off. I performed the most acrobatic catch of my life tonight, right in front a few hundred teenagers.

As if that’s not embarrasing enough, I’m a frickin’ bass player! I’ve lost more than one drink as it tumbled over the side of my amp while I was playing- I should be familiar with the concept by now.

A Thank You and Correction to Natalie

I’m a very happy guy right now. My week has been as will be filled with photography and almost every night this week, and it’s going to continue for at least a few more days. Up until a few hours ago, I had no plans on shooting tomorrow night, but Natalie Kardos was gracious enough to get me in touch with the right person, so now I’m shooting the Minus the Bear/ Annuals show at Soma tomorrow night. This will be my first show “Big Rock” show where I have to deal with a photo pass, 3 song limit, and security guards. I guess I’ve gotten spoiled with shooting at the Casbah and other smaller venues these past 8 months.

We went to see Minus the Bear last year when they came to the Soma, right on my birthday! It was a lot of fun, except for the whole all-ages, no alcohol, horrible sound thing. It also happened to be the drummer’s birthday, so halfway through the set, they got everyone to sing “Happy Birthday” to him. Heather sang louder than everyone else, and she sang it to me. That’s why I love her….

Anyway, it will be interesting to see what kind of images I get. I’ll be posting them here next week.

I also need to correct an error I made in the last post. I linked to Natalie’s site when I was mentioning how everyone shoots the skyline from Coronado Island. Her main photo was not shot there, but instead from Harbor Island.


I shot this photo at Harbor Island about 2 hours after I posted that entry, and it was only then that I realized that it looked really familiar. Sorry Natalie!

A couple more:

I’m also trying out a new watermark. It’s smaller and shaped to fit in the corner a bit better. Are you happy now, John?

Birthday Fun 11/02/08

We woke up early to catch the sunrise. I was really excited that my
birthday happened to land on the end of daylight Savings this year,
making my day last 25 hours! My sunrise charts must not have taken it
into account, because when we got up, it was already light outside.

I’ve been meaning to get a good shot of the San Diego skyline for months, and every time I went, the light wouldn’t cooperate. I thought it was going to be a bust this time too, since the light was perfect while we were driving down, and it doesn’t normally stay perfect for more than a few minutes at a time. This was shot with my ND filter and polarizer, which make for a great combo, giving me about 12 stops light reduction (3.6 density, cutting the light down about 4000x). Practically every photographer shoots the skyline here, at the end of Orange Avenue on Coronado Island.

After that, we went back to the Embarcadero area for more water-blurring fun.

I totally stole this composition of the kissing giants from a fellow SDSLR‘er.

Is this thing on?

Last week, I started getting 40 hits a day on this blog for a couple days, and then it settled down to about a dozen per day. GoDaddy isn’t all that great with its statistics, so I don’t really know where these hits are coming from or how they’re finding me.

I subscribe to my own blog (yes, I’m just that big a dork) in Google Reader, and its details tab says I’m the only subscriber, even though I know for a fact that there are at least two more folks who subscribe with Google Reader. So, if you happen to be reading this, could you please leave a comment or email me at michaelklayman@gmail.com so I know someone’s out there? If you could tell me if/how you subscribe to this feed, that would be great too.

If I know people are reading, it might motivate me to post more often. I’ll buy a beer for the first person who replies.

Oceanside Pier 11/01/08

I went out to Oceanside on Saturday to try out a new drummer for my band, Illuminatus Trio. I think he’s going to work out. I stopped by the pier to try out my new B+W 10 stop ND filter. I used to work for B+W and had access to all the filters in whatever size I wanted, and never took advantage of the opportunity. I wasn’t really shooting so much then, having come fresh out of photo school and wanting to do something completely different. So I got to work for a large-format lens and filter company. Sheesh…

I’ll post a thorough explanation of ND filter use later on, when I have a larger library of images to pull from. This is my first time out with it, so I’m still learning.

Not only can a 10 stop ND filter blur water nicely, when used with a remote cable release, it allows the photographer to choose shutter speeds longer than the 40D’s 30 second limit. This means that people can literally be erased from a scene, as long as they’re not standing still. Both photos above and below had people and bikes in the scenes, but they disappear as they walk .

The next morning, we woke up early (though not as early as I had planned) to shoot sunrise downtown. Pics coming soon.