Nena Anderson and Neverout at Riviera Supper Club, 2/23/10

The reason we picked this night to have dinner was to see Nena Anderson play with her small band, Neverout.

Neverout at Riviera Supper Club 22310 © Michael Klayman-001

By this point I was already on my second Art Snob, so my hands weren’t as steady as they needed to be in order to deal with the very dim lighting. As a result, these shots are not my best work. They do fit in with the lo-fi vibe of the band and the venue.

Neverout at Riviera Supper Club 22310 © Michael Klayman-011

Neverout at Riviera Supper Club 22310 © Michael Klayman-013

Nena has some pretty eyes.

Neverout at Riviera Supper Club 22310 © Michael Klayman-004

Neverout at Riviera Supper Club 22310 © Michael Klayman-010

Sorry I couldn’t be a bit more descriptive. Just like these shots, my memory of the night was a tad blurry.

Dinner at Riviera Supper Club, 2/23/10

I got a great deal on Reader Steals for a gift certificate to the Riviera Supper Club, so we went to dinner last night with our friends Jill and Mario. I’ve eaten both here and the Turf Club, and I like this one better.

For one thing, they make ridiculously good drinks.

Dinner at Riviera Supper Club 22310 © Michael Klayman-002

I don’t order mixed drinks very often, but my Art Snob was the perfect libation for the night. The place has a retro feel to it, just like whiskey, ginger ale, and bitters do.

Dinner at Riviera Supper Club 22310 © Michael Klayman-004

Heather’s only pretending to turn her filet mignon, when I’m at a grill I take over. The communal cooking station is a nice place to socialize with the people next to you. You do see some people who obviously have no idea how to cook a hunk of meat. I watched a guy attempt to squeeze all the juices out of his steak by flattening it with a spatula. That sizzling sound your making? It’s an announcement to everyone around you that you are a clueless cook.

Dinner at Riviera Supper Club 22310 © Michael Klayman-005

My ribeye was a perfect medium rare, just how I like it. I’m pretty proud of my criss-crossed grill marks too. The sides were pretty standard (and huge) but you can actually get sides here, unlike at the Turf Club. I’ve seen some bonehead grill moves there too, though. Last time I ate there, I had to explain to a fellow griller that he needed to remove the plastic wrap before putting his steak on the grill. I guess that’s one way to seal in the flavor.

Dinner at Riviera Supper Club 22310 © Michael Klayman-006

Dessert was some sort of S’mores creation with a craham cracker crust, chocolate mousse, and mashmallow topping. We all shared it and were surprised that it’s served cold, not hot as you’d think it should be. After two Art Snobs though, it was sweet, which was all that mattered. Next time that Reader Steal comes around, I’m stocking up!

Irradio Group Shots, 2/15/10

I shot the Irradio boys last week for my upcoming photo show. They were really patient with me, even though I was holding up their practice, so I was able to get a few different compositions in. This is my second favorite shot from the session.

Irradio Group Shots 21510 © Michael Klayman-006

Want to see my favorite? Come to my show and see it (and Irradio) in person. If there are any bands that want to get this type of group shot, just let me
know.

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Photo geekery:

I didn’t have a big parking lot to work with this time, we shot on a sidewalk with a fence on one side and Kettner Blvd on the other. Because of the cramped space, I wasn’t able to position the flash pops as far away from the band as I would have liked. This is why their faces are much too contrasty for the effect I was going for. Only Dan in the middle came out lit properly.

By popping the flash too close to the guys on the sides, they got a bit too much light while the guys in the middle got less due to falloff, thanks to the inverse square law. I’ve been doing one pop right behind the center person the past few shoots for some separation between the middle people, and that was a bit too hot as well. Next time I’ll try to remember to point the flash at the person’s back instead of straight up. The reflecton will create a larger area source, and I should get softer light that way.

I learn so much after each one of these shoots and having to explain my thought process (if only to myself) keeps me motivated to do it slightly better the next time. I still end up learning 5 things that don’t work for every one thing that does, but maybe I can get that down to a 4:1 ratio by the summertime.

Karin Carson CD Release Show at Tango Del Rey, 1/23/10

I gave a slideshow presentation last month on my jazz photography, which you can find a video for on Facebook. I was “opening act” for Karin Carson’s CD release show for her album, “The Time is Now”. Many of the jazz shows you see on this blog are shot for the organization she runs, the San Diego Jazz Musician’s Guild.

What made this show a bigger deal than usual was her rhythm section, world-class bassist Christian McBride and drum phenom Gregory Hutchinson.

Karin Carson CD Release Show at Tango Del Rey 12310 © Michael Klayman-003

It’s not every day that our sleepy little town gets to witness a performance with musicians of such stature. The band (including a formidable horn section) warmed up the audience with a song. 

Karin Carson CD Release Show at Tango Del Rey 12310 © Michael Klayman-005

Karin Carson CD Release Show at Tango Del Rey 12310 © Michael Klayman-006

Finally, Karin’s time had arrived.

Karin Carson CD Release Show at Tango Del Rey 12310 © Michael Klayman-012

One of my talking points during my presentation was how attractive female singers are tough to shoot since I have to make sure they look attractive in every shot. If any other musician makes a scrunchy-face during a particularly burning solo, it looks great. With a singer, not so much.

Karin Carson CD Release Show at Tango Del Rey 12310 © Michael Klayman-046

Karin has a relaxed delivery to her singing style that I tried to capture in my shots.

Karin Carson CD Release Show at Tango Del Rey 12310 © Michael Klayman-030

One of my favorite shots from the night that implies a lot without explicitly stating it:
Karin Carson CD Release Show at Tango Del Rey 12310 © Michael Klayman-034

Christian is a superstar bassist who commands attention from everyone in the room.

Karin Carson CD Release Show at Tango Del Rey 12310 © Michael Klayman-031

Karin Carson CD Release Show at Tango Del Rey 12310 © Michael Klayman-015

They had a couple duo interludes as well.

Karin Carson CD Release Show at Tango Del Rey 12310 © Michael Klayman-014

Karin had a couple special surprises for the audience, like introducing a future jazz star.

Karin Carson CD Release Show at Tango Del Rey 12310 © Michael Klayman-027

We also surprised Christian with a painting done by the musically inclined painter, Anthony Santos.

Karin Carson CD Release Show at Tango Del Rey 12310 © Michael Klayman-040

Joshua White told me later that playing with Christian Mcbride is always the same, he has to hang on for dear life!

Karin Carson CD Release Show at Tango Del Rey 12310 © Michael Klayman-043

Karin Carson CD Release Show at Tango Del Rey 12310 © Michael Klayman-047

See Michael’s Photos- Live! My first photo show!

See Michael's Photos- Live! Flyer

I am putting on my first ever photo show! I’ll be displaying liveperformance photographs of local bands at the huge gallery in NorthPark, the Queen Bee’s Art Center. They have a big stage, so I invited afew bands to play for you while you view their photos on the wall.

Come see A Scribe Amidst the Lions, Irradio, Tractormen, and Seesaw Ensemble!

I picked these bands because-

1. I like their music.
2. I seem to always get shots that look the way their music sounds.
3. They’re each a little weird in their own way, just like me!

I’vespent a couple months working on a group shot process, combining longexposures, flash, and portraiture, and I’ll have one of those up foreach band too. All the prints will be framed and for sale. There willalso be some surprises that I’m keeping secret until that night….

$10at the door, or email me at michael@seemichaelsphotos.com to get yourname on the list, then it’ll only be $8 at the door for you. Musicstarts at 8pm SHARP! I’m working on getting some good kegs for the showtoo, so come thirsty!

See you there!

Tractormen at the Royal Dive, 2/13/10

This was my first time at the Royal Dive, and it’s a pretty cool place. Very divey, but in a friendly and familiar way. The strangest thing about the place is its location- the middle of an industrial park in Oceanside.

It’s been almost a year since I saw the Tractormen play, but their folksy songs are just like I remember them.

Tractormen at the Royal Dive 21310 © Michael Klayman-006

They’re not as serious as they look.

Tractormen at the Royal Dive 21310 © Michael Klayman-036

Jim is the chief songwriter with stream of consciousness tales about nightmares and stuffed animals. He’s one of the most laid-back guys I’ve ever met.

Tractormen at the Royal Dive 21310 © Michael Klayman-012

Phil was my guitar player in my jazz-rock band up until last year when I chose to spend more time shooting shows instead of playing them. He’s a great player with a funky Scofield sound and always knows how to play something that makes everyone else sound good. He also plays a mean mandolin.

Tractormen at the Royal Dive 21310 © Michael Klayman-047

Mike Brown was my drummer for five years in my heavy rock band, and the best man at my wedding. He also designed the flyer for my photo show, which will be up soon.

Tractormen at the Royal Dive 21310 © Michael Klayman-025

Jason, aka Glynnis Johns, is somewhat new to the band after moving to Seattle and back. Our bands used to play shows with his old band, and he was the best player in that old band. It’s good to seem him back in town, filling out the sound.

Tractormen at the Royal Dive 21310 © Michael Klayman-020

In fact, it’s good to see them all!

Tractormen at the Royal Dive 21310 © Michael Klayman-028

Tractormen at the Royal Dive 21310 © Michael Klayman-017

Tractormen at the Royal Dive 21310 © Michael Klayman-022

Tractormen at the Royal Dive 21310 © Michael Klayman-019

Catch their rare non-North County show on March 5th, and see my photos of them on the wall!

Tractormen Group Shots, 2/13/10

We drove allllll the way to Oceanside to see my good friends, the Tractormen, play at the Royal Dive. The show photos will be up later, but I wanted to mention that they are playing my big big photo/music show on Friday, March 5th. I’ll have a flyer later this week. At the show I’ll be displaying both live and group shots of four bands. I thought I’d post my second favorite of their group shots here- the best one will have to wait until you see it in person.

Tractormen at the Royal Dive Group Shots 21310 © Michael Klayman-001

The auto repair shop made a fitting background for the band. I think that I acheived a good, natural looking balance between the ambient light and the flash. The parking lot is big, so I was able to position my flash pops right where I wanted them. I wasn’t able to achieve such a smooth lighting gradation with the band I shot last night. Anyway, the Royal Dive’s sign is blown out, but it’s just a part of the background, so it’s ok.

I positioned everyone so that they would block the security lights, which gave Mike a nice shadow coming towards the camera on the left. By only popping the flash from the sides and behind, I achieved the separation between background and the band members from each other. Textures will lose detail in anything when shot with mainly front lighting, and I wanted the ripples in the clothes to show up. By not illuminating the front, I kept the faces in heavy shadow, which helps to lessen the appearance of soft focus due to motion blur. These are 20 second exposures after all, it’s tough to stay perfectly still for that long.

It wasn’t all perfect, though. Next time, I’ll try to remember that I should remove my UV filter BEFORE the shoot starts. I didn’t realize the filter was on the lens until I had already started, and by that time the temperature of the threads dropped, which cemented the filter on there. These types of shots don’t look as good with a filter since every speck of dust will show up in the bright backlighting and flash pops. I did some spot removal of flare, but in the end it’s still not quite as crisp as I’d like.

All in all, I’m happy with this set and I’m glad that I’m able to shoot this for some of my best friends.

Astra, A Scribe Amidst the Lions, Burning of Rome at the Casbah, 2/6/10

After the group shot, I made my way into the Casbah for the show. It was a different crowd than most of the nights I’m here, but I did find a couple friends to chat with before the bands started. I didn’t know much about the Burning of Rome except that they like to dress up and put pig heads on spikes.

Burning of Rome at the Casbah 20610 © Michael Klayman-001

The pig heads didn’t make it out this time, which is good. I don’t shoot bands that spray the crowd with liquids like blood, spit, or worse. No band is worth the professional camera cleaning bill- unless they’re paying me.

Burning of Rome at the Casbah 20610 © Michael Klayman-002

If there was going to be a theme to the night, it would be bombastic performances featuring keys. These guys had two keyboardists. Guess which one was the cute one.

Burning of Rome at the Casbah 20610 © Michael Klayman-016

I actually liked the songs, but some of the stage antics felt really forced. Mr. Frontman spent a lot of time jumping around on his keys, drums, monitors, and even the bar table close to the stage.

Burning of Rome at the Casbah 20610 © Michael Klayman-009

The guitar player tried to outdo him with his own trips into the crowd and funny faces.

Burning of Rome at the Casbah 20610 © Michael Klayman-017

They even invited everyone up on stage to sing along with them for a song.

Burning of Rome at the Casbah 20610 © Michael Klayman-019

Despite all that, I actually liked the songs better than I thought I would. I might even pick up the CD next time.

Burning of Rome at the Casbah 20610 © Michael Klayman-022

Since they are a colorful band, I processed their images in a colorful way, leaving the red lights burning bright.

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It’s no secret that I’m a big A Scribe Amidst the Lions fan. In fact, they’re playing at my photo/music show on 3/5 at the Queen Bee Arts Center, along with the Tractormen, Seesaw Ensemble, and Irradio. Tonight was their EP release show, celebrating the first part of their trilogy album.

A Scribe Amidst the Lions at the Casbah 20610 © Michael Klayman-001

Since I took care of the group shots earlier, I didn’t bother with trying to get a decent one while they were on stage.

A Scribe Amidst the Lions at the Casbah 20610 © Michael Klayman-022

For some reason, I always mute the colors slightly by desaturating the channels individually until I like the mix. I guess that’s just how I see them. They wore their written-on T-shirts, just like in their Reader pic shot by my buddy, Danny De La Cruz.

A Scribe Amidst the Lions at the Casbah 20610 © Michael Klayman-011

Last time I saw them, Mike Hams was just doing percussion. Now they’re an actual double-drummer band. He also has great taste in Myspace profile pics.

A Scribe Amidst the Lions at the Casbah 20610 © Michael Klayman-013

A Scribe Amidst the Lions at the Casbah 20610 © Michael Klayman-015

I’ve mentioned before how these guys bring a lot of female fans to their shows. It’s a bit strange to be crowded out from the front of the stage by women, since I’m usually surrounded by guys twice my size up there. Not that I mind it at all. Heather did look at me funny when she found glitter on me the next morning, though.

A Scribe Amidst the Lions at the Casbah 20610 © Michael Klayman-018

A Scribe Amidst the Lions at the Casbah 20610 © Michael Klayman-009

This next shot totally reminds me of Mike Stern’s album cover for Give and Take.

A Scribe Amidst the Lions at the Casbah 20610 © Michael Klayman-016

If you want to see them and all the girls they bring, come to my show next month!

A Scribe Amidst the Lions at the Casbah 20610 © Michael Klayman-023

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Last time I tried to see Astra at the Casbah, the show sold out before I could get in.

Astra at the Casbah 20610 © Michael Klayman-001

If you like early 70s prog rock from the likes of King Crimson and Yes, you’ll love Astra. Their CD sounds like it was plucked from that period and held in suspended animation for 40 years. Long, drawn out suites instead of just songs that rely on vocals- great stuff for smoky bedrooms.

Astra at the Casbah 20610 © Michael Klayman-013

They tried to recreate that feeling with a fog machine that completely obscured the stage by the second song. Not so great for photos or the video projection they had going too.

Astra at the Casbah 20610 © Michael Klayman-002

For this set, I tried to emulate the low contrast look of film from the 70s, with slightly inaccurate colors and muddy shadows. For one thing, it fits the music, but the fog pretty much made that the only option anyway. I don’t see problems, everything is an opportunity to challenge myself. I also thought of Astra’s group shoot with the very talented Noa-Azulay-Sclater, wife of the bassist. Click on bands and you’ll see where I got my inspiration for this look.

Astra at the Casbah 20610 © Michael Klayman-003

A couple guys from this band and Scribe play in Seesaw Ensemble, the free-jazz group that’s also playing at my show on 3/5. I’ll have a flyer up soon enough, but message me if you want details now.