Midlake in Vera

On Wednesday April 28 I got to see Midlake, a band from Texas/USA that came greatly recommended and had a (nearly?) full house at Vera in Groningen. Originally Nicole Atkins was to open for the band, but she couldn’t make it to Europe due to the ash cloud from the Icelandic volcano eruption. Instead Groningen based The Black Atlantic now opened for Midlake during the Dutch gigs (of which this would be the last). However, since the instrumentation of Midlake took so much space on the Vera stage, only half of The Black Atlantic was able to fit on the stage this time. Geert van der Velde and Kim Janssen played a great set that demanded even more attention from the audience due to the quiet sound than they usually do. The lo-fi sound was great, but with a bit to much noise out of the audience the magic was easy to break (didn’t happen too often, luckily)

[flickr]tag:KJGuch+blackatlantic042810@Klaas / KJGuch.com[/flickr]

After a few small changes on stage, all was set for the 7 (!) members of Midlake. It took a bit for the memebers to find their place on stage and around each other, but once they did, the gig went like clockwork. Great songs, fantastic connection with the audience. as it was their last gig in Europe, they give it all they got and that worked wonderfully well and as the evening went along, the gig got better and better. It was a shame I wasn’ able to sta till the very end, but I had to work on the photos and had a daytime job to return to as well. But I’ll definitely go see them again next time they’re around

[flickr]tag:KJGuch+midlake042810@Klaas / KJGuch.com[/flickr]

Camera gear – Macro lens and flash

You’d think I’ve got money to spare. And you’d be right :)

Only a month after I bought the tele-zoom 100-400mm Canon lens, I now went the other way: Macro. It’s another field of photography I really want to explore and so I got myself a decent macro lens. Spent some time figuring out what the best lens would be to start with. The 50mm macro didn’t seem like a very good idea. Although very affordable, you need to be very close to the subject. The 180mm macro by Canon was so expensive that I didn’t even consider it. The 100mm was the best choice, but… Canon had updated that lens with a newer version, a 100mm L lens with IS (Image Stabilizer). Bit more expensive than the one without IS, but newer and shinier -I am a lens geek after all- and so more interesting.

For a while I seriously considered the 65mm macro lens that not only offers 1:1 macro, but can go as far as 5:1 (get real portrait shots of those little itsy bitsy spiders), but is a full manual lens and from the reviews I read, not really a lens to start one’s macro-hobby with. So the Canon 100mm f/2.8 Macro L IS version it would be.

For a macro flash I opted for a brand-less LED flash. Way more affordable, saving me some cash that could be invested in… the Canon Speedlight 580EX II, finally getting myself a basic flash that can be controlled.

The next few day’s I’ll start working on getting to know the macro lens and thinking of what to long for next. The rate I’m going at now, I’m quickly running out of a wishlist :)

Superbike World Championship racing day

After two days of free practice and qualifying Sunday April 25 was racing day, time to see if qualifying to pole would actually get a win. Photography proved to be a lot more difficult too. There suddenly was a large crowd enjoying a fantastically sunny day and the races on the track and a lot of people wanted to be in the same spot as me. However, I soon realized that taking the same positions as I had during practice and qualifying also meant that I’d end up with the same kind of photos. And I wanted more racing photos during the races. Unfortunately there weren’t many ‘dogfights’ going on. At least not where I was during race one. I managed some decent photos, but decided I’d scout the track for different positions during the next two races that were scheduled between the first and the second Superbike race

(click image to view the set)

After some shots during the Supersport and the Parkingo Series I eventually settled on the hill in the ‘Strubben’ corner. It’s an interesting corner not to far from the start/finish line. You see the racers in a fairly slow set of corners, enabling the daring racers to make a move. It already delivered me shots of a crash during the first lap when all racers were still huddled together, fighting for some room on the track (and preferably before the others, thank you very much).  This race was a lot more exciting to watch than the first as there were more groups of racers instead of racers racing separately. All in all I was able to get some more interesting photos and I enjoyed the race a lot. Unfortunately my beloved Ducati’s were mainly guarding the rear this time, Jonathan Rea of the Hannspree Ten Kate Honda team (bike number 65) dominated both races.

Thee Silver Mt Zion Memorial Orchestra in Vera

With all this Superbike stuff going on this weekend one would nearly forget that there are concerts to go to as well. And what a concert. Thee Silver Mt Zion Memorial Orchestra (also known as A Silver Mt Zion of Thee Silver Mt Zion, and sometimes with the Tralala Band, but not on this occasion) was a band I really wanted to see for some time now. Their albums are anything but easy listening music. It’s stuff you have to pay attention to. The gig was no different. With two violin players (violins connected to a vast amount of effects), a guitar player, double bass player and drummer and all of them taking vocal duties, they presented us with quite a sound.

It was mesmerizing and absolutely one to remember. The only thing that didn’t really work too well was the attempt to get into some kind of discussion with the audience. Created some funny moments, but I doubt that this was the idea behind it. Anyway, still got to hear some of the songs I have on vinyl live and that was well worth it

[flickr]tag:KJGuch+tsmzmo240410@Klaas / KJGuch.com[/flickr]

Superbike World Championship Practice & Qualifying

The main reason for buying the Canon EF 100-400mm lens was to do sports and I wanted to focus on motor-sports first, seeing as the TT Circuit is just a few kilometers away. The Easter races were a great first test, but this weekend was the moment of truth with the Superbike World Championship coming to the circuit. I took Friday of to be able to shoot some photos from various locations. The weather was great so I had all freedom to shot great images. Besides the Superbike free practice and qualifying there were also other racing classes such as the Supersport, Superstock and Parkingo Series, but I wanted to keep the images into the main class. the Friday qualifying of the Superbike ended a bit odd, as there was an accident that stopped the session at 3 minutes 49. The teams were allowed to complete the session and for the few remaining minutes all motors hit the track again. IN the very last corner of the last round, a diver unfortunately crashed his bike in the GT corner. I’ve added that one as a strip

[flickr]tag:KJGuch+sbk23042010@Klaas / KJGuch.com[/flickr]

On Saturday I was fortunate enough to have been allowed the use of a press-pass, allowing me to get a little bit closer to the action. Photographing in these locations was a whole new experience. Being closer to the bikes also means they’re passing a lot quicker. But if you’re able to get them good, you really get them good. Tried a few locations where I’d normally not even be able to come even close to and I was able to try my luck on the press-side of the GT corner. That wasn’t half as easy as I once thought it was. Didn’t really get the results I wanted over there, but a few new experiences have been gained. The ‘Strubben’  area was a great place to work as well, although most photo’s I took there were of the other disciplines. I did get some great close-ups of the Ducati’s though and am mightly pleased with that :)

[flickr]tag:KJGuch+sbk22042010@Klaas / KJGuch.com[/flickr]

While in the GT corner, I also shoot a free-hand panorama of the GT Tribune and the main tribune. Some errors in the tires in front but a nice shot just the same, I think.

Shining in Vera

A couple of years ago, during Eurosonic, I was en route with Storm, the lead man of FileUnder.nl. Running from venue to café to bars. Anywhere they held gigs. One of the gigs Storm wanted to see was by Shining. I hadn’t a clue as to what it was, but tagged along, shooting photos of any band we saw. And so we ended up in the upper floor of Shadrak in Groningen where Shining was playing. I didn’t really have much tome to take in the music. The light was terrible and the only thing I remembered afterward was that is was stupendously loud and fast with the lead man switching between guitar and saxophone almost as much as I switch lenses on my camera during a gig.

But I really wanted to see them at a gig where I really had the time to take in the music and so I was very happy to see the announcement at Vera that the Norwegian (there’s also a Swedish version and that’s quite different) Shining was coming to Groningen. Yesterday I got to see them in action and it was brutal. Loud, powerful metal with fast saxophone played jazz pieces. It took a few songs to get my head around it, but it turned out I really enjoyed myself. Great fun

[flickr]tag:KJGuch+Blackjazz+Shining+vera@Klaas / KJGuch.com[/flickr]

Vanessa Peters in De Witte Bal

After the theater gig in Zwolle, Vanessa and band traveled to Assen for their next gig in De Witte Bal. A quick stop at my house and then off to the venue for soundcheck and dinner. The gig started at half past eight. Unfortunately the café wasn’t nearly full and with most people in the rear of the café it almost felt like a private gig for me.

The sound was great and they played another lovely set with a lot of songs of the various CD’s and the odd cover (loved Jolene), but there really ought to have been more people there. The ambiance in a café is a bit different from a theater, but the band does both of them very well. At least it wasn’t very noisy in the café and I had a great evening all in all

(click image for slideshow)

Vanessa Peters in Papenstraattheater

It’s been about three years since I first saw Vanessa Peters. In May 2007 I was asked by Fileunder if I’d like to go and see a singer/songwriter from Texas/America who was on her first Dutch tour. She played in a small pub in Groningen. No stage, only two lightbulbs above her and an audience that barely paid attention. But Vanessa didn’t let that get her down and was back for a tour half a year later, playing small venues and bringing Italian Manuel Schicchi from Icecream on Monday along with her for support on guitar and Dutch Alex Akela on bass, mandolin and violon.

Currently Vanessa is seen as one of the most influential Texan singer/songwriters of the moment and is back for another tour through the Netherlands. Again with Manuel and Alex and on Friday April 16th the band played in the Papenstraatheater in Zwolle. For me a first for the venue and finally back in Zwolle as it’s been a long while I was there.

I was very happy to see the small theater filled up very well. Theaters usually mean a more attentive audience then bars. It also meant that I’d have to be a lot more sensitive with my camera (the Canon tends to sound like a cannon when it’s surroundings are silent). So I took an absolute minimum of images.

The gig itself went fantastic. The sound in the venue was terrific, the audience appreciative and Vanessa and band played fantastically. Some old songs, some from her latest CD and a few well chosen covers. It’d be great to see Vanessa play theaters a lot more. But first I’ll see her i my hometown of Assen tonight, in De Witte Bal

(click image for slideshow)

Calefax Reed Quintet in Vera

The fourth edition of ‘De Derde Helft’ (The Third Half) took place on April 14th. An initiative of Timon Abels and Klaas ten Holt,  it is a series of modern classical concerts, held to introduce modern classical music to a new, younger audience.

Last night the Calefax Rietkwintet (a Reed quintet  and considered to be one of the most successful chamber ensembles from Europe) performed in Vera. They played -fully unplugged- on instruments like saxophones, oboes clarinets and a bassoon (and still managed to reach well into 90dB’s in the back of the hall).

The evening started with a movieclip by Calefax called ‘Studies On Nancarrow’. A bit odd, but a funny way to start the evening. After that the quintet entered the stage and played some pieces, ranging from an adaption of a 14th century classical piece to a modern piece inspired by the 9/11 attack of 2001.

In the second set they premiered a piece by Heleen Verleur and played another composition (sorry, I’m not yet that well known into the world of classical music to remember all of this ;). They also played a composition arranged around the alto saxophone solo from Billie Holliday’s ‘The Man I Love’.

The third set (i.e. The Third Half) was a highly experimental piece of work. Quite interesting, but also a bit hard to follow. Students of the Frank Mohr-institute have created an application that will allow to influence parameters of displayed music. On a big screen at the back of the stage music was displayed and the musicians were asked to interpret this in their own way. Musical notes would be cropped together, stretched, flow from right to left or left to right and would appear in different colours. The four musicians on stage (two of the Calafax ensemble  and two volunteers) sat with their backs to the audience in order to see the screen and play the music. It took a while for the musicians to get in the right flow, but once they did, it turned into an interesting piece of work

[flickr]tag:KJGuch+Vera+rietkwintet140410@Klaas / KJGuch.com[/flickr]

Allan Holdsworth, Tony Levin, Terry Bozzio & Pat Mastelotto in De Oosterpoort

“But, but… they only played two songs?!?”

Well, yes. But in their defense, they were about 40 minutes each. The concert held by Allan Holdsworth, Tony Levin, Terry Bozzio and Pat Mastelotto was unlike anything I’ve seen before. After the first song Terri Bozzio introduced the band and explained the idea behind this gig. They came to the stage completely unprepared and in complete improvisation they let the vibe decide what way the music goes. This way what we heard this night was totally unique. It was different from what they played last night and will be different again the next concert.

The musicians on stage are each legends in their own right. Terry Bozzio is a well known drummer who has played with Frank Zappa and Thin Lizzy, Allan Holdsworth is an icon amongst his fellow guitarists and has played with Soft Machine, UK, Robert Fripp and Bill Bruford. Tony Levin is one of the most influential bass-players in the world, well known for his colaborations with Peter Gabriel and King Crimson, but has also played with (amongst others) Pink Floyd and Dire Straits. Also drumming on stage is Pat Mastelotto known for his work in Mr. Mister and King Crimson, although his kit looked a bit poorly when placed next to the awe-inspiring drumkit of Terry Bozzio.

Musically there are a lot of things that can be said about the gig, but ‘accessible’ is not one of them. Organic, fluid, odd and impressive are the first that spring to my mind. It was really great to experience a gig like this, but I’m not sure I’d be able to appreciate this on a daily basis.

The lights were a bit of a struggle too. Apparently Allen had instructed the lights on him to be turned off completely in order for him to be able to read of the values that his instruments and effects gave to him. But where needed I cranked up the ISO and tried to get the best I could. Under the circumstances I’m pretty happy with the results

[flickr]tag:KJGuch+holeboma110410@Klaas / KJGuch.com[/flickr]

Frank Turner in Vera

On Wednesday April 7 Frank Turner & band played at Vera in Groningen. It just so happened that I found some Youtube videos  of Frank a few days earlier and was thinking of checking this gig out myself, when FileUnder.nl asked if I’d like to go for them. Well hey, why not?

Opening for Frank Turner was an American band called Crazy Arm (they’ve recently recorded a split-record with Frank). They were a great opening act. Enthousiastic, wild, loud and fun (not to forget good) punky rock.

[flickr]tag:KJGuch+crazyarm7410@Klaas / KJGuch.com[/flickr]

A little later Frank Turner and band came onto the stage. The audience was extremely enthusiastic, sang along to much of the songs and danced and jumped on queue. The music of Frank is kind of a folky punk (or punky folk). The lyrics are fun, reflective an lend themselves well to sing along with. I’ll bet Frank’s sets go down very well at festivals, but in a well filled Vera it surely didn’t do worse. Great gig and for the final encore Crazy Arm also returned to see to a well filled stage.

[flickr]tag:KJGuch+franktrun7410@Klaas / KJGuch.com[/flickr]

Paasraces at the TT-Circuit in Assen

The opening of the track season at the TT-Circuit of Assen was nearly here and I was a little worried as the past few days as the weather wasn’t very good. To be honest, it’s been pouring. But whatever the weather, on Monday the 5th of April with the Paasraces (Easter Races) the season would be opened. Thanks to the rain I skipped the training session on Saturday, but I really wanted to attend the races on Monday. Luckily the day started bright and sunny. The afternoon brought clouds, a little rain and lots of cold wind, but it was a lot better then in had been the past days.

After a morning training session the races started at quarter to one in the afternoon. They’d start with the sidecars, the the Supermono and after that the classics. These races were fun to watch, but offered little action. The sidecars were way too much spread over the track to offer any suspense. I guess the Classics didn’t want to chance damaging the old bikes. Once the 125cc class entered the track, with a fuller grid, it started to get exciting. The two Dutch Supersport races and the Dutch Superbike also were lots more interesting to watch with a few crashes, some overtaking and more racing in groups.

I tried out various places to shoot photos to avoid getting lots and lots of the same shots and test-shoot some ideas. It was a great practice and I hope I’ll be able to do some more at the end of the month with the Superbike races on their way.

[flickr]tag:paasraces2010+KJGuch@Klaas / KJGuch.com[/flickr]

Oh, and since I ‘happened’ to have the panorama kit with me, I also took a panorama photo at the start/finish line. It was a bit of a quicky as the riders were awaiting to be let loose on the track, so I didn’t have much time to set it up. Because of that it’s a bit sloppy, there are a few errors (can you spot them? ;)). Currently it’s also available in a Quicktime-version over here.

Panoramic testing in Fochteloo

Yesterday in the sun I decided to try some new panoramic shots. I know how the system works now and how to create a movie file that you can scroll around in, but I’m still working on getting the right kind of top and bottom shots. By tilting the camera upwards the sky/top is easily fixed, but the bottomshots remain a bit of a problem though (that is: if you don’t want the tripod included).

For the new panoramas I went to a nature park near Fochteloo. Unfortunately I spent most of the time being completely and utterly lost, so didn’t take too many pictures, but will try again when the weathers nice again.

As for the panorama shots, there are two of them, both with tops in order. One of a lookout and one taken in the woods. You’ll need Quicktime to view these images. The one in the woods was a bit of a struggle what with the sun appearing and disappearing constantly and my having forgotten the remote. Also you’ll probably notice a small glitch in one of the trees. I wasn’t able (yet) to repair that.

As said, the bottomshots are still a bit of an issue, but I’ll work on those as well and hope to have a full panoramic photo soon. As for the other photos that I took; those weren’t too interesting to actually post, but they did give me an opportunity to try working in Lightroom and that worked pretty well. Don’t see much use for it in concert photography, but for sports and nature with practice it could be a great tool, making the post editing a whole lot quicker.

Tom McRea in De Oosterpoort

Would I mind taking some photos of Tom McRea’s gig in De Oosterpoort to go with an interview for FileUnder? I’m afraid I hadn’t heard of the man so far, but a quick check on Last.fm told me that there was a good chance I’d like it. The gig was held at the small stage of the venue and wasn’t nearly sold out, but the attending audience was enthusiastic and that usually makes up for a lot.

Opening the gig was Brian Wright, a member of Tom’s band, but also a singer/songwriter in his own right. Has a great voice. At the end of his gig, he was aided by Sally Jaye on vocals

[flickr]tag:KJGuch+briwri300310@Klaas / KJGuch.com[/flickr]

A few minutes later Tom and band came onto the stage. The sound was bigger, heavier. More bombastic. Aided by Brian on guitars, a keyboadplayer, drummer, bass and cellist Tom McRea had the stage well filled. The audience was very responsive so Tom already had the venue singing along with them at the fourth song and took a girl out of the audience onto the stage to sing along. I wasn’t able to see the rest of the gig, but I believe it went down very well. Looked and sounded great to me

[flickr]tag:KJGuch+tmcrea30032010@Klaas / KJGuch.com[/flickr]

Grasstrackracing in Vries

On the 27th and 28th of March the open Dutch Championship Grasstrackracing was held in Vries. In two days various sets of dirt-bike races were competing for the championship. I went on Sunday as on this day besides the ‘normal’ two wheeled bikes they’d also race with sidecar bikes, always making for some interesting shots. The only thing I found a bit curious is that this is called ‘Grasstrackracing’, but there wasn’t a piece of grass to be found on the track. There was dirt, lots and lots of it and most of it ended on the audience during the races.

There were lots of heats and every so often they’d flatten the track again, keeping it fair for the next races. During the day we’ve had just about every type of weather: sunny, cloudy, rain and even hail. None of it mattered to the riders, they plowed through the field no matter what. For the audience though it certainly did matter, with the wind it could get quite cold at times.

For myself it was also a great opportunity to field-test my new Canon EF 100-400mm lens. Would it deliver sharp images, would it be able to keep up with the speedy bikes? I tried lots of ISO settings and for today let the camera decide on the shutter-speed, that way I’d end up with some varied results enabling me to see what would deliver the best kind of photos for future reference. All in all I’m quite happy with the results. A few days rest now and then with Easter off to the TT Circuit for the opening of the bike race season there. For now, here are the results of the grasstrackraces

[flickr]tag:gtrv280310+KJGuch@Klaas / KJGuch.com[/flickr]