Arno Hintjens in De Oosterpoort

On June 12 Belgian Arno Hintjens and his band played in the small hall in the Oosterpoort venue in Groningen.

Arno plays a mix of rock, blues, new wave and French chansons and flirts with Arabian music. His voice is a raw, lived through one and he looks impressive on stage.  His band is as varied as are his songs and the sound is great.

However, seeing as I have two other Belgian bands to shoot that evening, I’m forced to leave after 6 songs. A shame, it sounds great

Scenery 2010 in Grand Theatre 2/2

After the dramatic departure of Assacre, the floor of the venue was now prepared for Lucky Dragons. The audience quickly seated themselves around the strange devices that were to be used as instruments and quickly found out that they were also to take part in the music as it was being made. Luke Fishbeck of Lucky Dragons kept an ambient sound going to which the audience could play the odd instruments (light beams from a beamer reflected from the back of CD’s, odd sticks hooked up to wires and wires that, held in hands would produce sounds). Very interesting and entertaining

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Finally the act on the main stage was revealed. Well, revealed… hidden in layers of smoke Santa Cruz, a droning black metal band rocked. Hoovering above them was a huge skull made from TL lights that flickered on and of helping to create a very impressive image. Greatly rocking set. The acts were jumping from one extreme to another, but that worked wonderfully well

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This is the point where I unfortunately made a rather big mistake in timing. After the Santa Cruz gig, Eklin was up and I assumed this to be in the same hall as all gigs were held here. A mini venue was being built in the center of the hall and I expected Eklin to play here and so patiently waited until it seemd to take rather a long time. It was only then that I realized that Elkin was already playing in another part of the venue, so I rushed there. The set was already nearly done and due to  the complete lack of lights I saw no other option than to attach my flash to the camera and take a few shots. Only took two as not to disturb the gig and the audience any more then necessary. As for the gig I’m afraid I saw to little to say anything about that, but I’ll check them out when I have a chance as they get great reviews

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Back to the main hall and back in line for the mini venue. Unfortunately the venue was filled up in no time and for a while I feared to miss the act completely. But thanks to a very nice nurse guarding the entrance who noticed my cameras (it can be handy to have them all hanging around your neck) I was let in after all and following a cameraman I even got front seats. In there was Kania Tieffer, from Belgium, playing a very energetic mix of lo-fi electropop/hip-hop/dance. Brilliant set

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After this gig Mik Quantius was playing a rather odd set of  music in the same area where Eklin played earlier, but due to the complete lack of light I wasn’t able to take any pictures there worth publishing. Not even the flash was able to get anything worthwhile there. And there was more to bee seen after that with Laser Poodle and DJ MVSCLZ, but I was beat, had a fantastic time and headed home. But the festival is most definitely worth repeating!

Scenery 2010 in Grand Theatre 1/2

A little while ago I read about a festival in Groningen that -on paper at least- looked very interesting. A joint initiative by art-colective Owsum, the venues Grand Theater and Vera and Popcultuur Groningen brought together a very broad set of musicians in an inspiring visual venue and dubbed it Scenery 2010. A combination of art and alternative music. And as I love to try out new things in music, this seemed like the place to be.

About half past eight the festival started with French garagerockers ‘The Feeling Of Love‘. Interesting band, great sound but a bit of a challenge with photography as is was nearly pitchblack (but then… hey, I have a Canon 5D mkII now, with ISO-speeds up to 25600, I can overexpose pitchblack if I have to). Half an hour later the band was informed to stop so that the next act could start. Man, that half an hour flew by.

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Next up was Cupp Cave, seated in some sort of tree house overlooking the venue. This was more of a DJ set. Nice beats and kept the audience entertained while the venue was prepared for the next act.

Next up was yet another completely different kind of act: Ernst Glerum. On an improvised stage in front of the main stage (kept hidden for a later gig) Ernst played a selection of classical and improvised jazz and pop songs on upright bass, solo. For this set two wide benches were placed for the audience and luckily they paid good attention to the set as this could have easily drowned in mumbling audience chatter

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Immediately after the set of Ernst a tape with a background-score was started and on the scaffolding high up in the venue the one-man thrash/death metal band Assacre entered the venue, dressed in hooded robe. Followed by a spotlight and a camera he walked around the whole of the venue and even outside. We -the audience- followed his actions via the projected film until he entered the venue ground floor and mingled in the audience. All this while playing thrash metal and acting out all the theatricals like the death metal bands. Hilarious and great. Fantastic combination

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Jenny Lane in Simplon

Back in March Jenny Lane played in the Oosterpoort venu in Groningen, opening for Joss Stone and I remembered that to be a fun gig, but I was a bit psyched concerning the Joss Stone gig. So I decided I’d definitely check out Jenny again if she’d aver play around here again.

So what luck was it to find out that she would in fact play in Groningen again. Not the Oosterpoort this time, but in Simplon and now as the main act.

Opening for Jenny was Celine Cairo, a nineteen (!!!) year old singer songwriter backed up by Mart Jeninga on bass and Matthijs Lievaart on violin. A great act to open the evening with lovely songs

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A short break later Jenny and band entered the stage. Glad to see Jenny’s still as wacky as she was in March, only now she wasn’t just opening the evening, she owned it. lots of fun on stage, an attentive and enthusiastic audience and a great band. Jenny was all over the stage, making friendly with the backing vocalists, playing airguitar besides the guitarist and for some sensitive songs on a seat together with guitarist and accordion  player. And all this wearing a very large hat, that can’t have been very comfortable. Great gig and I had a really good time. Glad to see that the gig in the Oosterpoort wasn’t just a one-off

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Motorpsycho in Vera

The Vera venue in Groningen is having an incredible stream of fantastic acts this year. Very alternative and very very good. In this endless stream of great gigs the also mentioned that shortly after the Norwegian Shining gig, fellow psychedelic rockers Motorpsycho were stopping by. Motorpsycho! Wow, now there was an act I just had to see. Permission was arranged via kind permission of the venue. The show was sold out (or at least nearly as a few extra tickets came available a bit before the show) and I was at the venue well in time to see the street having been blocked from cars and busses driving in. Now I know that at a sold out gig there can be quite a queue, but a blocked street? It turned out that they were also celebrating the basketball club Donar’s championship in Groningen.

Anyway, I headed back to the venue and was still well in time to find a nice spot center stage. Tonight would be quite exciting as it was also the real test for the new 5DmkII camera. It would turn out to be a huge test as the light was very challenging and atmospheric (it was and it sounds a lot better than saying it was crap for photography ;)), so I got to test nearly every setting of the camera.

The gig was awesome, absolutely incredible. It rocked, jammed and set up a huge wall of sound. No opening act and including two sets of encores it lasted well over three hours and I loved every exhausting minute of it. Stage setup was a bit different as the drums were on the lest front side and there were loads of attributes on the stage. Would have made some great photos, but unfortunately the light wasn’t very good for that. But thanks to the high ISO settings of the camera I was able to get most of the gig at least

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Editing the photos after the gig took some time, the images of the new camera are really huge. At 21 mega-pixels per image the 4gig cards fill up very fast and the eventual set takes up a huge amount of space. I’ll have to learn to be a bit more selective me thinks. But the camera is a big thumbs up. Will make a fabulous combination with the 1DmkIII

Canon EOS 5D mark II

Sometimes you do things that, if you think about it, make you scratch your head. At least… I do. Actually I do so quite often. Today was such a day again. It was always more a question of ‘when’ instead of ‘if’ I’d persuade myself to upgrade. A harmless message on Twitter yesterday immediately resulted in an answer supplying me with an address that not only had the camera in stock, but also was even cheaper than my normal addresses.

I gave myself some time to think about it, but actually that was a ‘lost cause’ anyway and this afternoon, after a call to see if it really was in stock, I was on my way to Zwolle to get my brand new Canon EOS 5D mkII.

Still reading up on setting, changing some here and there where needed and where I want to, but as far as I can see nowalready it looks to be a brilliant camera. Needed to update the Canon software and the Camera RAW files for Photoshop to actually be able to do anything at all with the images, but all that works too now. Eventually updated the software on the camera and now all is set. Can’t wait to really put the high ISO settings to the test, those look absolutely incredibble.

Alfa Romeo Spider 1:18

Yesterday I added some parts to the photographic table. I bought a black cloth and two 500watt lights and a sheet of Plexiglas. this is to enable me to not only shoot on a white surface, but also on black and the Plexiglas is to give me the reflections. Not to test this, I placed one of my beloved Alfa Romeo model cars on the Plexglas (after much dusting I have to admit) and try some shots. I personally like to be able to use small apertures to get as much sharpness and to see if then I still get well lit images. I can always go to larger apertures afterwards.

The first thing I noticed is that 2x 500watt isn’t nearly enough for a 100mm f/22.0 shot, it will still produce fully black images at low ISO’s (and you do want low ISO settings). So eventually after trying some various things, I added the 580EX flash to the camera and started shooting with that. That helped. A lot!

I still need to fine-tune and I do believe I’ll need a different cloth as this one shows the thread in the images (not so much after editing, but then I did some hard post-editing on these photos), but I am happy with the results and believe I’ll be able to put the table to good use, especially in rainy days ;)

Jinbei photographic table

Now that I’ve also started doing some product photography, I wanted a decent photographic table (and so stop risking damaging my coffee table ;)). Didn’t want anything too shabby, but also not one costing a fortune, as it is till a hobby (of some sorts). So looking around I found a Jinbei table, 75cm width and 100cm long that looked the business, ordered it last week and received it yesterday. Building it was like camping all over again, but with Chinese (or Korean) instructions. Having it finally installed I realized that it didn’t really fit in well with the other furniture in the livingroom and that it was rather larger then I had imagined. I’d have to think about the setup and where to put it a bit.

After a goods night sleep I decided on the attic. No longer my computer area, it is a perfect space for it and not in any way in the way of anything else. So after a little bit of deconstructing an reconstructing I got the whole device up two floors and now have a perfect location for product photography and am very happy with it. Now if only the weather wasn’t this good I’d be in the attic all day :)

Here is the setup and some quickly made test photos

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I promise I’ll clean up a bit over there and I still need a good setup of continuous light. Haven’t got a good idea for that yet, but I am getting there and that’s what matters :)

Blitzen Trapper in Vera

Early last week I was asked by FileUnder to take some photographs of the Portland/Oregon based Blitzen Trapper concert in Vera on May 20th. Didn’t really know the band, but usually FileUnder sends me to the right gigs so hey, why not?

Opening for them was The Dutchess And The Duke from Seattle. I loved them. A great duo playing seated on two barstools playing some lovely songs

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After the Dutchess and The Duke it was time for main act Blitzen Trapper, a mix of alternative, indie and ‘experimental’ folk rock. It took a bit of work getting the images I wanted as the light didn’t help as much as it has lately and the band-members were either in each others way of half hidden behind instruments.

The concert was good. The venue was well filled and although I didn’t know any of the songs, I enjoyed myself a lot. However, for myself in the end I was most impressed bu the Dutches and the Duke. Still also the Blitzen Trapper was a great one

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Kashmir in Vera

Last night Danish band Kashmir came to Groningen. Opening for them was local band LPG, who -under pseudonym ‘Louise P. Garcia
‘- let loose lots of news songs on an enthusiastic audience. A fun opening of the show, although some songs seemed to end a little too abruptly. But it sounded good anyway and the audience was enthusiastic

[flickr]tag:KJGuch+lpg18052010@Klaas /[/flickr]

The LPG-instruments and monitors were removed very quickly so that Kashmir had all the room that they needed on stage. I was very curious to see the band as I had heard a lot of positive reviews about them. I almost skipped this gig when I was asked to photos at a gig to go with an interview for Blitzen Trapper (that will be tomorrow and would make my week quite busy), but curiosity got the better of me and I’m very glad I went anyway. What a fantastic band on stage! Musically they’re great, but besides that they also have a lot of fun on stage, they look like a relaxed set of guys. For a song reflecting on how it would feel to be a woman, they got one of the female audience on stage and a while later, when they found a fellow Dane in the audience, they hauled him on stage, where he promptly introduced the next song with a story about how he found his first love thanks to Kashmir. Great chemistry between band and audience and great songs. All in all I’m very happy I went anyway. And who needs sleep anyway? ;)

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Cocorosie in De Oosterpoort

Promoting their new album Grey Oceans the sisters Casady, better known as Cocorosie, played to a nicely filled small venue hall in De Oosterpoort. Opening for them was New Yorkbased Post punk / Club outfit Light Asylum. Nice sound, but the light wasn’t very good (however I would soon find out it could be a lot worse)

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After the opening act the stage was cleared for the Casady sisters and other bandmembers. They had a pianist/keyboard player with them, a percussionist and a human beatbox. The sound was awesome and the vocals of Sierra and Bianca were amazing, absolutely fantastic. However they ought to have invested a little more into lights as I also quite like to see what I’m listening to and the light was utterly hopeless. So there are hardly any photos to show. I’d love to see Cocorosie again sometime, but I really do hope to actually see them then

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New Cool Collective in De Oosterpoort

New Cool Collective has recently released a new CD called Pachinko in the full Big Band outfit. And last night they ended their tour in the De Oosterpoort venue, small hall as Randy Newman had claimed the larger one, but I can not imagine that concert having been more fun than New Cool Collective and audience had in the smaller hall. The concert was taped for a DVD release (and they let me photograph, these guys rule!) so the light in the hall was absolutely fabulous. The band was swinging and so was the audience. Lots of new material, lots of older material, just about every member of the brass section got their moment in the spotlight and although there were many solo moments the whole concert felt like the band really played as one union.

The songs were great, the band just seems to be getting better every time I see them and their latest CD is incredible so if you ever get the change: go see New Cool Collective big band

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Superleague Formula qualifying and knockout finals on TT Circuit Assen

In preparation of the races on the TT Circuit of Assen on Sunday May 16, the Superleague Formula held Qualifying sessions and knockout finals on Saturday May 15. A day earlier there were already some practice sessions and a demonstration in the town center of Assen that was well attended.

Photographing these cars (or any for that matter) is a lot different then photographing motorcycles. Motorcycles are a lot more dynamic in corners as to cars. Also the cars a bigger and getting them interestingly on a photo is not that easy. It might work better if you shoot them from the front, but there were lots of gates preventing decent shots from that point. Luckily we were able to get on the top op the hospitality house so I could shoot some cars a little more from above and vary the shots a bit more. I’d like to try again sometime, but I’d like some different angles to shoot from.

But it was great to see these racemonsters racing over the circuit near my hometown. The noise these car make is insane.

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Superleague Formula additional program on TT Circuit Assen

On Saturday May 15 the Superleague Formula racing championship would be qualifying, but around those qualifying sessions were held additional races.For me it was a great way to practice photographing racing cars. When we arrived the Dutch Mustang Challenge had just begun. Curiously among the mustangs were also some BMW’s racing. I guess they helped fill up the field as there weren’t that many cars. The best looking Ford Mustang didn’t even race by the way, it was displayed on the middle area, looking awesome

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After these races we got on the photo shuttlebus (driven by my dad ;)) and relocated. It beats walking, I can tell you that. At the new location I was better able to track the cars and shoot them while they were  ‘slowly’ going around the corner. The race that started now was a supercart race. They may look small, but these little buggers go up to 240km/h (150m/h)

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The last event I saw was the Dutch Supercar Challenge race. Roaring engines, air-tunnel designed cars and as pit-stops were mandatory, so standing above the pitlane was a fun place to be. Didn’t get many racing images and certainly not many interesting ones, but a view from the pit is -for a change- quite interesting.

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Photographing cameras

Yesterday I decided I’d try my luck with some “studio-work” again. After the model cars I also have some old cameras and I started with a few of these to shoot some images of them. It’s pretty hard to do as long as I don’t have a decent fixed light setup and do everything with remote fired flashes. Also a dedicated background would do wonders and make the makeshift setup I now use obsolete. That’s something I want to do next and I’m working on some ideas for that.

But for now I’ll use what I have. And I shot some images of my old Rolleicord Twin Lens Reflex camera and of my Polaroid SX-70 Landcamera. Both are -in my opinion- truly beautifully crafted cameras, with their own personality.

Shooting some photos of the cameras was a challenge in it’s own right. I wanted to have them shown not to static (no straight up ‘mug-shots’). The Rolleicord being very black, I wanted to have the worn out semi rusted patches shown. The Polaroid is a formidable design and I wanted that to be visible. By placing it flat on the table, it just didn’t work, so I placed some stuff under the camera to have it elevated and placed it at an angle.

Editing afterwards proved difficult also as a lot of dust was visible (white backdrop didn’t help much there and the aperture I shot is shows absolutely every speck of dust on the sensor). So much patching up was needed. Also, the metallic parts of the camera easily blew out when working on a strong white background. And lastly, I was not able to clear out the corners behind the cameras that showed the end of the table and rising of the background. This because the shadows of the cameras (that were higher then the model cars I recently shot) were both on the table as on the background.

However, I am pleased with the results as they are. It’s a learning process and I hope I’ll be able to do better once I figure out how to implement some fixed lights and a better background (or buy a photography table)

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