Category Archives: Events Photography

Faithless luck in Cape Town

There I was amidst the throng of a very excited crowd at Grand West, feeling extremely fortunate with the comped Golden Circle wristband tied (a little too tightly) around my arm. I flipped the envelope over to check that it definitely was my name on the front (not that I was doubting the quadruple check made by the strong woman at the ticket office) and then saw it … ‘+ photo pass’. No way! Awesome! (No, really … the use of the word is legal in this case!)

Small snag … I didn’t bring my camera. Cameras are summarily confiscated from non-media people, and I didn’t want to run the risk of having to hand mine in at security. Nor did I want to take it along, just in case, and leave it in the car.

So, there I stood, a media pass handed to me, and no camera … kind of like that time I was at the top of Machu Picchu without my camera. My daughter had her little aim and shoot with her, though, so when Goldfish appeared on stage, I shoved her through the gate … ‘Go!’ I said, ‘go! Who else do you know who has a media pass for Faithless? Who else do you know who is going to be photographing Goldfish right now?’ So in she went, wielding her little shiny camera, muscled her way in amongst the big guys with the big lenses. Chutzpah, is what it’s called. And she had a blast.

In the meantime, I was frantically texting the Significant Other to get my camera bag and barrel through to Grand West before the main act. Luckily the battery was charged and everything I needed was in the big bag … for once I hadn’t been distracted by some idea or another, mucked about with the camera, and left bits and pieces spread about the house. The gods were smiling on me!

I had to miss most of the Goldfish set … a bummer, because they’re an amazing band! (I wrote about them here) … to head out into the parking lot and pick up my camera. Quickly screwed the 400 mm on, checked that I had a memory card in the camera, shoved another into my bra (yes, I did, really) and, balancing rather expertly on my very high shoes (in order to be taller than everyone else and so be able to see the show), I ran back inside, just in time to catch the end of Goldfish.

And so … there I was … in the media pit with the rest of the lens envy crowd, shooting away. I had a moment there, thinking … ‘Pfff … you’re not anybody. You’re just the one taking the pictures of genius.’ But I got over it. So I’m no genius. So I got to take the pictures of genius. That’s an honour not to be scoffed at!

And what a show they put on too!

Take a look at the Faithless Limited Edition Box set – the book was written by my very cool friend, David Matthews – and the rest of the Faithless and Goldfish pics on my website.

Maxi Jazz

Sister Bliss

Sudha Kheterpal

Sudha

Getting the shots: Not much to this, other than a nice big lens, a steady hand aided by image stabiliser, a high ISO (varying between 1600 and 3200), and a shutter speed that helps to freeze motion and fight camera shake. You’ll have some blurry shots, and some where the lighting guys just blow your image into oblivion, but that’s just the way it goes. Not every pic gets a Pulitzer!

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Filed under Cape Town, Events Photography, Musicians, Photography

Pro-Horse Clinic: Riding with soul

I have always found any sport that involves an animal to be rather spurious. First of all, who is the athlete? It seems the one with the four legs is getting the short end of the deal in the partnership. And then when money is involved, it seems all the more likely that the animal is going to come off second best. If thousands of people are going to bet their hard-earned cash on a horse, in the hope of never again having to work a day in their lives, then there will, surely, be horse owners hoping to have the right horse on the track, even if it means injecting a substance or two, legal or otherwise, into the animal. And so it is that I have never really taken to horse riding. I feel too sorry for the horse, the horse senses I am clueless, and so does its very best – and usually with some success – to get me off its back.

Today, though, I learnt a few lessons about horses, their riders and a very different way of thinking about riding and training. Veronika Buhl, a light-as-a-feather sprite with a lilting voice and open, smiling face, who looks as if she should be flitting across a stage with the other sylphs, ran a Pro-Horse Clinic in Wellington.

There was no kicking, no shouting, no whipping … just the lightest touch. The rider guides the horse through a slight transfer of weight: just by dropping a shoulder or by looking in a direction. Veronika’s fingers barely touch the horse as she guides it into position.

These riders take time and effort to train and grow to know themselves, as well as their horses. They speak of a ‘journey’, rather than of training, and they are there to grow, rather than compete. There is no ego, only a passion for the animal and the activity of horseriding.

Veronika Buhl - http://www.prohorse.org

Shooting was challenging … phew! The clinic was conducted indoors, in a large grey building, on brown sand, with only a smidgen of diffused light straining to make its way through an opening along the top of the walls. High ISO (about 2500 to 3200) and a wide aperture (either f/4 or f/5.6, depending on the lens) helped me to get shutter speeds of about 1/80th to 1/250th. I was worried about the depth of field, especially with the 400 mm, but more concerned about motion blur, so my focus was on trying to achieve the fastest shutter speed that the available light would allow.

My reward was when the doors opened, and I could play with the light falling in from the bright summer’s day outside …

Photographers and artists get to see the light!

A good ear scratch can make a fellow go weak at the knees!

It's pure love

A rider very pleased with her and her friend's progress

First rider of the day ... she has invested three years in the Pro-Horse philosophy

I am still no expert, and I’ve not been convinced to saddle up yet, but I am very curious to see more of the work that these amazing people do.

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Filed under Events Photography, Horses

Sometimes I get lucky …

… and sometimes I get very lucky.

This weekend I had an event to shoot – the Discovery Life end-of-year staff party hosted at the Big Bay Surf Life Saving Club. Derrick and Debbie Frazer did a superb job in transforming the club into a colourful beach-themed venue … but that’s for a different post.

The shoot was straightforward enough: loads of pics of happy, smiley people enjoying their fully catered, fully sponsored year-end get-together where everyone forgets the workday stresses and lets their hair down. All went well and I was just winding down when the live music started up … it was Goldfish

Yep. Sometimes I get very lucky.

Dominic Peters

David Poole

Visibility, angles and lighting were a bit challenging. They had a red gel lighting them from the side I was on, and the setting sun striking them from behind. I worked mostly with a slow sync shutter and fill-in flash so that I could still get the rim lighting, halo-effect, a bit of motion blur, an the lighting effects.

Red gel, setting sun and fill-n flash

Most of the pics translated well into black & white, although the red gel di cause the skin tone to get that translucent paleness usually seen in pics shot with infrared black & white film, and needed a blue filter to tone them down a bit.


They put on a superb show and had the 400-plus revellers bouncing and singing along. Look out for them at St Yves, Camps Bay, during season.

It would be really, really great to photograph these hugely talented (and photogenic) musicians from a slightly easier vantage point.

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Filed under Events Photography, Flash photography, Photography, Portrait Photography

Kiara’s Batmitzvah Album

The album to commemorate a special girl’s Batmitzvah:

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Filed under Cape Town, Children and Family Photography, Events Photography, Photography

World Cup Final Draw: Long Street Festival

The World Cup Soccer is drawing near, and this weekend the final draw was held at the Cape Town International Convention Centre. My friend, Ron Gaunt, master sports photographer, was there to record the glamour.

Very late in the day, when the festivities were pretty much in full swing, and by the time 50 000 people had gathered in Long Street to watch the draw on the big screen, be entertained by our local bands and to dance in the streets, I made my way downtown to see what’s up. And it was simply incredible!

Those sadsters like myself who had wandered into town too late to be allowed into the main festival area thronged at the gates, and pleaded with security guards and policemen to be let in. At that stage, the fellows had been on their feet for about eight hours, were hungry, tired and fed-up, and had heard every story imaginable. They were buying none of it. Not one more person was getting into the festival.

And so I meandered back down the road, and back up again, and back down, looking for some semblance of festivity to photograph for Ron. More and more people started arriving, excitedly making their way to the festival end of the road, where they would be sorely disappointed. All they would find were policemen on horseback and a mass  of people all trying to catch a glimpse of the party on the other side of the fence.

And then the mood changed. You could feel a shift in energy. A whole new party started on the other side of the fence. People made their own music, honking their vuvuzelas, drumming, chanting and singing, and they danced to their own beat. Laughing people with their arms around each other, all wanting their picture taken, danced and ran down the street. A crowd of people would suddenly stampede down the road, coming straight at me, singing at the top of their voices, waving flags and making a noise.

It was an amazing experience. People of all nationalities and all races were united in celebration. Everyone was everyone’s friend. On my own in the middle of town, carrying my camera, I felt completely safe. We were all looking out for each other. It was a great day in South African history. I am very grateful to have been a part of it.

For more of my pics, take a look here, and for Ron Gaunt’s full story, as well as his sports photography, take a look here.

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Filed under Cape Town, Events Photography, Flash photography, Photography