Bird Rock at Sunset, 10/30/10

Bird Rock 103010 © Michael Klayman-002

We had another gorgeous San Diego sunset last night. For more from this set, click a photo to go to the full gallery.

Bird Rock 103010 © Michael Klayman-001

All afternoon we had small puffball clouds in the sky from a rainstrom that had just passed through that morning. I’ve been thinking about shooting a twilight this weekend, and I had just enough time to make it to Bird Rock to see the sun fall under the horizon. Most people go home after that, but it’s an amazing time to shoot. There was a lone gull standing on the rock and admiring the sunset himself.  The clouds had all rolled out by then, with just a few stragglers left behind.

Bird Rock 103010 © Michael Klayman-004

Obviously, I played with the colors more than usual, but I find that this type of fading light lends itself to that for a very good reason. Our eyes are very good at seeing color during the day, but at night, the color receptors in our eyes (cones) don’t work as well, so our brains rely more on the brightness receptors (rods) which greatly outnumber the cones.

We don’t always realize it, but our night vision is predominantly black and white. Our memory of the colors of night can be manipulated very easily, because we think we have more experience visualizing colors at night than we actually do. So, I can present several looks to the same rocks which look like they could have been captured in camera like that on different nights.

These shots might look bright, but standing there it was actually quite dark. After a four-minute exposure to get the necessary exposure, I found that lots of different color schemes gave their own meaning to the rocks, sky and water.

Bird Rock 103010 © Michael Klayman-005

After I tripped the shutter, I realized there was a northbound plane that was going to slice right through my frame. I agonized for a couple minutes about when I should close the shutter and stop the plane’s lights from moving through the rest of the frame, and balance that with the correct exposure. In the end, I think I made the best choice, leaving the plane in one third of the frame, with the rock in the middle and some clouds in the right third.

One other thing that struck me was how much bigger that hole looked. It’s more of an arch now, and I imagine it will erode down to a toothpick in the next year or two. Here’s a shot from the first time I was here, not even two years ago:

BirdRock 31309

I’d love to be there on that day to capture half or bird rock falling into the sea.

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Brawley, Tractormen at Soda Bar, 10/26/10

Tractormen at Soda Bar 102610 © Michael Klayman-001

My friends, The Tractormen, opened up a Tuesday night at the Soda Bar. Each one of them is a class act, taking my feeble attempts at flash in stride.

Tractormen at Soda Bar 102610 © Michael Klayman-002

I’m not convinced it looks better than ambient. Sure, it’s easier to illuminate a subject with a flash, but it seems to require converting to B&W in order to look good. I kept my shutter speeds slow to let in the usual amount of ambient, the flash just acting as a fill.

Tractormen at Soda Bar 102610 © Michael Klayman-004

 I turned it off after a couple songs- and am now  99% convinced that flash is just not my thing. It’s just too… forensic.

Tractormen at Soda Bar 102610 © Michael Klayman-005

It’s so much better with shadows.

Tractormen at Soda Bar 102610 © Michael Klayman-014

Tractormen at Soda Bar 102610 © Michael Klayman-016

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Brawley filled up the bar with honky tonkers and cowboys. I had no idea there were so many of them in this part of town.

Brawley at Soda Bar 102610 © Michael Klayman-001

Brawley at Soda Bar 102610 © Michael Klayman-014

I wanted to give them a bit of a dusty saloon vibe with the color and processing. The dancers kept things lively, especially for me trying to stay out of their way while shooting. I wasn’t ready for a rodeo.

Brawley at Soda Bar 102610 © Michael Klayman-009

Nena Anderson doesn’t have a bad angle, even if I have bad focus.

Brawley at Soda Bar 102610 © Michael Klayman-011

Brawley at Soda Bar 102610 © Michael Klayman-004

But the real star of the show is Dave, the pedal steel player. He can make that thing sing and cry at the same time.

Brawley at Soda Bar 102610 © Michael Klayman-026

Brawley at Soda Bar 102610 © Michael Klayman-022

I would have liked to stick around for more than one song from the Derailers, but it was a Tuesday night, and I had to be up early  travel to another podunk desert outpost and save some townsfolk from themselves, very figuratively speaking. With Brawley still ringing in my ears, I felt like I was ready to wrangle some outlaws and ride off into the sunset.

Click on a photo to go to the full gallery.

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Jeffery Smith Group at Soundwave, 10/20/10

Soundwave and KPBS are putting on a new a jazz series. As always, click on a photo to go to the full gallery.

Jeffery Smith Group at Soundwave 102010 © Michael Klayman-003

The first installment was the Jeffery Smith group, featuring Rob Thorsen, Joshua White, and Russell Bizzett. I didn’t know Jeffery before I shot his promo photos, but he has sung with many heavy hitters in the jazz world.

Jeffery Smith Group at Soundwave 102010 © Michael Klayman-027

This was the first seated show I’d ever seen for this venue, and it presented some challenges for me, like trying to get decent angles without being in everyone’s way. The lighting was pointed a little too low to adequately light everyone, so I shot the one place the light was, the singer.

Jeffery Smith Group at Soundwave 102010 © Michael Klayman-020

Jeffery Smith Group at Soundwave 102010 © Michael Klayman-007

I hope it works out here. This town could use some more places for jazz musicians to bring music to a different audience, even if it is in the middle of Mission Beach.

Jeffery Smith Group at Soundwave 102010 © Michael Klayman-015

Jeffery Smith Group at Soundwave 102010 © Michael Klayman-017

Jeffery Smith Group at Soundwave 102010 © Michael Klayman-016

Jeffery Smith Group at Soundwave 102010 © Michael Klayman-021

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Stimy at Live Wire, 10/9/10

After the Mashtis finished up, we went to the Live Wire to see a special evening with Stimy. You might remember him as the driving force behind several big San Diego bands from a few years ago, such as Inch and Congress of the Cow.

Stimy at Live Wire 10910 © Michael Klayman-005

We got in just as Stimy was starting his second set and it was nice to be the young guy in the crowd, for once.

Stimy at Live Wire 10910 © Michael Klayman-009

I discovered Inch just before I left for college, while still living in Cleveland. A plain white cassette was sitting in a budget bin at the record store,  and that name just sounded cool, so I took a chance and spent the 99 cents. “Stresser” lived in my car stereo for the rest of the summer. “Dot Class’C'” was amazing too, only less driving and more frantic. That album also turned me on to Kristian Dunn, who I’ve shot it El Ten Eleven.

Stimy at Live Wire 10910 © Michael Klayman-002

Itwasn’t until I moved to San Diego in 2002 that I found out that Inch was from this city, but by then they were broken up. I wish I could have seen Stimy play back then, but hearing him play some of those songs on acoustic was even better, in a way. There’s nothing to hide behind when it’s just you and a guitar.

Stimy at Live Wire 10910 © Michael Klayman-004

I may not share any memories of Stimy, like most everyone else in the room, but I can say I’ve been a fan of San Diego music even from back when I lived 3000 miles away.

Stimy at Live Wire 10910 © Michael Klayman-008

The Mashtis at Soda Bar, 10/9/10

Most bands have a pre-show ritual. 99% of the time, this is it.

Masthis at Soda Bar 10910 © Michael Klayman-002

If your band has a different ritual and it’s interesting, I’ll take a photo of  it. If it’s doing shots, I’ll still do it, but you have to buy me one too.

I had a last minute photo shoot down the street at Eleven (which you’ll find out about soon enough) and afterwards I brought Heather and a couple friends to see the Mashtis open up the night at Soda Bar.

Click on a photo to go to the full gallery.

Masthis at Soda Bar 10910 © Michael Klayman-006

I was happy to get a chance to shoot them on an actual stage this time.

Masthis at Soda Bar 10910 © Michael Klayman-022

I did have to deal with deadly red lights, however.

Masthis at Soda Bar 10910 © Michael Klayman-011
 
So sometimes that’s what B&W is for.

Masthis at Soda Bar 10910 © Michael Klayman-028

Masthis at Soda Bar 10910 © Michael Klayman-014

Itai’s clean-toned Les Paul echoes his restrained vocals. Both try to stay quiet to lure you in close so you can hear each detail. While the rhythm section isn’t always tight, it supports without ever getting in the way. Erica’s backing vocals are delivered with a soft, lilting flutter, heightened by how her words float like a butterfly above Itai’s.

Masthis at Soda Bar 10910 © Michael Klayman-027

I also gave each of them a portrait of their hands.

Masthis at Soda Bar 10910 © Michael Klayman-030

Masthis at Soda Bar 10910 © Michael Klayman-031

Masthis at Soda Bar 10910 © Michael Klayman-032
 

And their feet.

Masthis at Soda Bar 10910 © Michael Klayman-015

We only stayed for them, since my next stop was to go see a musician who I never thought I would ever see.

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Ghetto Blaster at Bar Pink, 10/7/10

After West Coast Tavern, I walked down to Bar Pink to see The Makeup Sex, only to find them tearing down their setup at 10:30pm. Since when do shows start right on time? While Ghetto Blaster took their sweet time getting started, some friends went back to WCT, but I stayed put. I wasn’t going to miss two bands in the same night.

Click on a photo to go to the full gallery.

Ghettoblaster at Bar Pink 10710 © Michael Klayman-002

I shot them in black and white last time, so I wanted to try something different this time. The colors at Bar Pink burns with an unnatural glow. You either love them or you don’t, just like maniacal vocals over a heavy punk riffage.

Ghettoblaster at Bar Pink 10710 © Michael Klayman-006

Ghettoblaster at Bar Pink 10710 © Michael Klayman-004

Ghettoblaster at Bar Pink 10710 © Michael Klayman-007

It hurts my eyes, but I like it.

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Low Volts at West Coast Tavern, 10/7/10

One thing that always frustrated me as a band member was scheduling practices and shows. Trying to get four people in the same room at the same time on a regular basis is next to impossible when many musicians work outside the 9-5 norm. Lately, even some of  my promo shoots have been getting bumped at the last minute. I had hoped to have two bands shot by 10pm but as I sat down for a Mule at the West Coast Tavern, l still had an empty flash card. Sometimes relying on other people backfires. I’d imagine that Tim Lowman/Low Volts, knows what that’s like.

Click on a photo to go to the full gallery.

Low Volts at West Coast Tavern 10710 © Michael Klayman-003

Some of us have more to say than what we can fit into one project like the Blackout Party. I’ll bet Tim started playing shows as Low Volts because sometimes it’s easier to just learn how to do it yourself.

Low Volts at West Coast Tavern 10710 © Michael Klayman-002

I only shot a few songs before moving on but once again, WCT booked another perfect drinking companion, gritty and a bit twangy. After my Mule, the bass drum started to fool me into thinking I was watching a full band.

Low Volts at West Coast Tavern 10710 © Michael Klayman-007

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Andrew Michel Group at Tango Del Rey, 10/3/10

Quick Plug: I don’t think I’ve ever mentioned it on the blog, but I am available for hire to shoot your show, promo shoot, or other non-wedding event. I charge less than you might think. If you do want to book me, it’s a good idea to give me at least a couple weeks notice so that I don’t schedule another show. A couple hours notice is no good 90% of the time.

I get asked to shoot weddings occasionally, but I refer them to my favorite weddding photographer friends. They hire me as a second shooter, so I’m still there to share in your magical day. Anyway, back to music.

I haven’t shot at the Tango Del Rey in a long time. One of my last shows here was a year ago, when I shot most of these same players. This time, it was all arranged and directed by the young bass player, Andrew Michel.

Click on a photo to go to the full gallery.

Tango Del Rey 10310 © Michael Klayman-002

This room looks much different during a 4pm downbeat.  The curtain was pulled back to reveal a tile pattern of dancers. Hooray for bright and busy backgrounds! My favorite!

Tango Del Rey 10310 © Michael Klayman-024

I do love a challenge, though.

Tango Del Rey 10310 © Michael Klayman-018

Andrew plays with a deep yet defined bass tone which really resonates with me.

Tango Del Rey 10310 © Michael Klayman-027

And it’s always a treat to hear Kamau Kenyatta and Derek Cannon. They’re music professors who play because they love it, not because they need it.

Tango Del Rey 10310 © Michael Klayman-026

Tango Del Rey 10310 © Michael Klayman-022

Tango Del Rey 10310 © Michael Klayman-019

Tango Del Rey 10310 © Michael Klayman-020

Tango Del Rey 10310 © Michael Klayman-025

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Albatross Promo Shoot, 9/19/10

I don’t just take long exposure group photos of bands, sometimes I get invited to do a regular documentary style promo shoot.

If anybody wants some nice promo shots, live gig or otherwise, please let me know. I’m not free, but I’m not expensive. 

Albatross Promo Shoot 91910 © Michael Klayman-001

I met up with Albatross at their rehearsal studio at the very un-rocknroll time of 10am. I just tried staying out of the way as they went through their morning ritual of coffee and cigarettes.

Albatross Promo Shoot 91910 © Michael Klayman-009

Albatross Promo Shoot 91910 © Michael Klayman-006

Albatross Promo Shoot 91910 © Michael Klayman-011

With the long alleyway behind us, I gave them a Reservoir Dogs shot too.

Albatross Promo Shoot 91910 © Michael Klayman-015

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The Mashtis at South Park Walkabout, 10/2/10

Last night was the South Park Walkabout, when all the shops and restaurants celebrate by bringing in bands and staying open late. I took a quick look around, visited some of my photos on the walls at the South Park Abbey (formerly the South Park Bar and Grill), and went to see the Mashtis, finally.

Click on a photo to go to the full gallery.

Mashtis at South Park Walkabout 10210 © Michael Klayman-001

I thought they’d be playing on the street somewhere, but it was actually a house party put on by one of the guys in Black Hondo, I think.  Being right in the middle of all the action, Itai and co. had a nice crowd gathered for most of their set, with even more people walking past.

Mashtis at South Park Walkabout 10210 © Michael Klayman-004

With zero light on the band and a fence right in front of them, I was forced to shoot the band with creative use of camera position and flash. I usually like to shoot from a low angle for the compositional advantages and to just stay out of an audience’s way, but that was not going to happen here. Sorry to anyone I might have annoyed.

Mashtis at South Park Walkabout 10210 © Michael Klayman-006

I run into Itai every now and then at shows and we’ve had some nice chats about photography and music. He gave his new camera to his dad as a birthday present, but hopefully we’ll get a chance to shoot together when he gets another real camera. Ya know, a Canon.

Mashtis at South Park Walkabout 10210 © Michael Klayman-010

The music is straightforward rock with two vocalists. Erica sings more than just straight backups, so it’s almost like having twin vocals.

Mashtis at South Park Walkabout 10210 © Michael Klayman-009

Attractive women are the most difficult for me to shoot. I set the bar higher for myself when editing their photos because I want that beauty to shine through with no distractions. The pose, facial expression, foreground, and background all need to achieve a harmony that enhances the face without distractions. In a standard portrait session, the photographer has a lot of control over these things. In a live gig situation, I just need to be ready to see it and react when the moment is right. Sometimes I get it, sometimes I don’t, but it’s always fun to try.

Mashtis at South Park Walkabout 10210 © Michael Klayman-011

Just like in music, comedy, and countless other creative endeavors, timing is everything.

Mashtis at South Park Walkabout 10210 © Michael Klayman-008

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