Forever 21 Fashion Show at the Fashion Show Mall in Las Vegas, NV

Shooting in JPG mode instead of RAW

Today I had some extra time and was near Las Vegas Boulevard so I stopped in the Fashion Show Mall to photograph a Fashion Show. The mall has a full runway and model box that lifts out of the floor every hour on the hour Friday-Sunday from 12-5 pm. Each week they feature a different store that is located in the mall. The shows usually last 10-15 minutes and will have 6-8 models walking the stage three times each wearing fashions from the featured store. This week, the store was Forever 21 and they were showcasing fashions for “Festival Wear”. I had my Sony a6300 and a few lenses, and decided this would be the perfect opportunity to test the JPG setting ( Extra Fine) as I normally always shoot in RAW format. I captured one show using the Sony Zeiss 24-70mm at f/4 and the next show using the Sony 55-210mm variable F stop lens set at the lowest F stop according to zoom. I had the camera set to shoot the max burst rate (11 fps) and wanted to see how buffering would be compared to full RAW files as well as the image quality. The camera seemed to shoot longer bursts and the buffer did not lag shooting in JPG mode. When I got home to edit the images, I was pleasantly surprised by the quality of the images. The white balance was a little off, but there are many different light sources in the mall, so that happens in RAW too. Other than that, the shots were crisp and totally usable. When comparing to the back of the camera’s display, they looked pretty accurate. They were much faster to copy to my hard drive and import into Adobe Lightroom. The white balance was a quick fix using the eye-dropper tool. Other than that, the images were great! I will not switch to shooting in JPG, but in a pinch, if I have limited card-space or am shooting something with a ton of action and need more buffer room, I will give it a try! Here are some images from today’s adventures…

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Fashion Show Mall: Website | Twitter | Facebook | Instagram
Forever 21: Website | Twitter | Facebook |Instagram

Lisa Yamasaki at the IBS – Las Vegas

While working at the International Beauty Show (IBS) with Bay Photo Lab, I had the opportunity to photograph a runway meets live hair and fashion styling show put on by Lisa Yamasaki from Japan. This show incorporated traditional Japanese stylistic elements and pushed them in a daring, innovative new direction, giving fresh life for a new generation. Combining to the hair and fashion styling, several entertainers from Cirque du Soliel including an amazing singer (Nitza) intermixed and created a stellar performance within the already mesmerizing presentation.

Lisa’s concept demonstrated a mutation that brought a natural individual into something not only uniquely beautiful, but took her philosophy one step further, suggesting that empowerment of the individual and the addition of beauty to our lives could work to transform our world to a peaceful and majestic place. The transformative process added layers of complexity to the model. The hair and wardrobe started off simply and both were added to and embellished with layers of beautiful fabrics and other touches that created a masterpiece in the finished product. The nature of the outfits were opulent in their colors, fabrics, and design and suggested a feeling of royalty. It was almost as if the designer was trying to unleash the inner queen or goddess within the individual. The model’s gestures also suggested strength, power, and confidence. They sat down in one mode but got up in another, as if a new being emerged at the end of the transformation.

The Cirque du Soliel performers helped with not only the excitement of this performance, but also seemed to take on the role of entourage to the new evolved Goddesses.

Below are a selection of images from this magnificent show that I was honored to both witness and capture.

My First Impressions of the Tamron 15-30mm f/2.8 VC Lens

I have heard may great things about this lens and wanted to give it a try. I signed up for the Tamron loaner program and put this at the top of my list. I wanted to see just how fast it would focus on my Canon camera bodies. I wanted to see if the Vibration Compensation (VC) would help in the handheld, low-light situations that I frequently find myself in. As  most of you know, I shoot many concerts and also love night photography. This lens is made for a Full-Frame camera (and can also be used on a crop body )! Talk about ultra-wide zooms! I will say that the lens is bigger than I expected and feels solid as it should, considering it has 18 glass elements in 13 groups and the front element is coated in Flourine for extra protection. For what I do, I need a lens that is sharp from corner to corner with little distortion and fast focusing ability in extremely low lighting conditions. I put the lens to the test capturing a friend’s band “Desire.” They are out of California and are a top-notch U2 Tribute band. As you can see, in low light and in back-lit situations, the lens is sharp! The lens focused fast and the VC feature was on for all of the images in this gallery. I was shooting in manual mode at f/2.8 and changing shutter speed and ISO based on the fast-changing lighting conditions of the show. I believe the photos will back up my words on this lens. This piece of glass is well worth it’s price tag and I highly recommend it!

#WithMyTamron #Tamron #SP1530VC #TamronUSA #TamronRocksVegas

The Nutcracker

On Christmas Eve, I had the opportunity to photograph a condensed version of the Nutcracker by The Pink Tutu Ballet Company at The Downtown Container Park by an all local cast. There was a large crowd sitting in front of the stage and many standing behind those seated. Many of the audience found themselves looking at the direct sun to see the details of the stage, but I was fortunate to found a vantage point from stage-right and captured a small sampling of an amazing performance. The capture of a story of a girl and her dreams on Christmas Eve was magical. Here is a selection of images from the performance.

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Jordin Sparks at the Fashion Show Mall, Las Vegas NV

On Saturday August 15th, Jordin Sparks made a special appearance on the Fashion Show Mall Runway to promote her newest album “Right Here, Right Now”. Jordin was the season 6 winner of American Idol on Fox. To promote her latest effort, she performed a high-energy 6-song concert in the middle of the mall and then had a meet and greet with the fans that lined the runway to see her sing. “Right Here, Right Now” will be available in stores on August 21, 2015. Here are a few images from the show:

All images captured using the Sony A7II camera body and Zeiss 24-70mm f/4 lens. #SonyAlpha #SonyA7II #SonyICLE7M2 #SonyRocksVegas

Jordin Sparks: Web, Twitter, Facebook
Fashion Show Mall: Web, Twitter, Facebook

Jordin Sparks Jordin Sparks Jordin Sparks Jordin Sparks

Boston Proper Fashion Show

Boston Proper livened up the Fashion Show Mall runway with a fashion show that was not at all typical. The Fashion Show Mall on the Las Vegas Strip is known for entertaining shoppers and heightening the shopping experience with a weekend fashion show on its unique runway that rises from the floor in the center of the mall each hour on the hour to highlight the retail outlets housed there. However, Boston Proper offered a fresh perspective on this well-known Las Vegas icon. As the spokes-model Tala said, “We are not from Boston, and we are far from proper.” The runway was designed to invite the audience into New York’s Central Park and introduce them to seven models showcasing three outfits each. Rather than display the “proper” fast-paced, attitude laden strut of average fashion shows, Boston Proper’s models strolled through the “park,” looking fabulous, and socializing with each other like friends. The models showcased Boston Proper fashions as the models “ran” into each other and revealed their “new purchases” from bags proudly displaying the Boston Proper logo. Some models even toyed with their phones or browsed the latest Boston Proper catalog while making their pass on the runway. Three male models were also featured “exercising” on top of the stage box where a live DJ set the tone of the show. I loved the concept, but the relaxed tone of the show and the models’ casual strolls did not match the high energy of the live music. Boston Proper has, however, upped the ante for originality and marketing. After the show, a spokes-model clarified the brand message, educated the audience about Boston Proper locations, and enticed shoppers to visit the store with a preview of the current promotions while brand ambassadors canvased the audience with Boston Proper catalogs and logo shopping bags. The concept and audience interaction was a welcomed change to the normal fashion shows, but the energy was lacking and failed to engage the shoppers throughout the entire fashion show. To see more of Boston Proper, find them on twitter: @Boston_Proper or Facebook:

All Images captured using the Sony A7II and Zeiss 24-70mm lens
Settings: M – 1/160th sec, F/4, ISO-160
#SonyA7II #SonyAlpha #SonyICLE7M2 #SonyRocksVegas

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Nelson Night Photography Workshop Review

I recently co-instructed a night photography workshop in Nelson, Nevada at Eldorado Canyon with a fellow photographer and it was awesome! The class was limited to 10 attendees and everyone arrived well before the classes were to begin. We planned an introduction and safety briefing to talk about potential hazards and sign releases when an attendee pointed out a rattlesnake right by where we were all gathering. Now that got peoples attention and awareness really fast. I kept talking safety as I kept an eye on the snake while my co-instructor, Jeff Knox went to get the property owner to deal with it. He came quickly and put the snake in a cooler and drove it down the road and set it free. Jeff and I split the class in half and started our  one-hour lectures on our topics (Jeff taught Lighting a Vignette and Star Trails, I taught Capturing the Moon, Capturing the Milky Way,  Light Painting a Scene, and Photographing a LED Performer with Second Sync Curtain Flash). The hour seemed to just fly by and then we switched groups and taught again for an hour. After the teaching portion of the class, we had scheduled a time for questions and answers and had cool gift bags to give everyone thanks to Sony Cameras, Sigma Photo, and Bay Photo Lab, but as I was showing what was in the bags, the sky opened up and it rained for about 15 minutes! After the rain stopped, all attendees got to go out on the photographic property and practice what they had just learned while Jeff and I walked around answering questions and helping individuals with achieving their goals in making some killer night shots! We ended the night at a little after 1am, and everyone seemed very happy with the class and the location. I did learn a few things from this experience as well,and will use that knowledge on my future workshops!  I want to thank everyone who attended, and my co-instructor Jeff Know, as well as my assistant: Chuck Couture. I also want to thank Becka for being my model for the LED performer portion of my class. Here are a few images from my portion of the workshop:

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La Fin Absolute Du Monde – Friends that Rock!

My friends from La Fin Absolute Du Monde, came through Vegas on their way to California while on their North American Tour. They did not have a show in Vegas this time, but spent the night in my spare bedroom and shared with me what is going on in their world. For my friends that do not know who they are, La Fin Absolute Du Monde are from Oakland, CA, and are riding the high of their current 2015 North American tour. Compared to acts such as Portishead, Neurosis and Swans, the electronic/heavy rock duo has brought their soul-baring, emotionally raw and animated performance to the southwest (including Juarez, Mexico) south, east coast, Midwest regions thus far. Just about to the begin the northwest leg of their 14 week tour, the relentless pair has been touring in support of their new album, “Clarity Amongst the Rubble”, which will be released this summer. Jason and Cyndy “Chicky” Myles have been friends and an inspiration to me since meeting them at a show here in Vegas at the Bunkhouse Saloon, December 13th, 2012

“Our affiliation with Justin Broadrick [Godflesh, Jesu], having him do a remix for us and touring with him last year along the west coast, really opened the doors into the heavier music scene”. – Jason

“The new album translates well within our live performance. Apart from the piano and vocals, I play guitar for some songs. The reception by our audiences have been immensely positive and even though we still have beautiful and dark melody, we sound much heavier now than ever” – Chicky

Keep your eye out for these tenacious two:

June 19 Jones Radiator, Spokane, WA

June 20 The Crux, Boise, ID

June 22 The Railyard, Billings, MT

June 25 The New Direction, Fargo, ND

June 26 Slacker Bar, Aberdeen, SD

Live at the Cheyenne Saloon, Las Vegas


Live at the Cheyenne Saloon, Las Vegas

Live at the LVCS, Las Vegas


Live at the LVCS, Las Vegas

Outside the D Casino, Downtown Las Vegas


Outside the D Casino, Downtown Las Vegas

At the D Casino, Downtown Las Vegas


At the D Casino, Downtown Las Vegas

Downtown Las Vegas


Arts District, Las Vegas

Wetlands Park Photo Shoot

Wetlands Park Photo Shoot

Using the “Star Trails” Application on the Sony A7II

I love photographing the night sky! I recently have discovered  while digging through the Sony A7II camera menus that you can download applications (apps) to select Sony cameras. I created a Sony Entertainment Network account and bought the “Star Trails” app. for under $10. There are not many apps to choose from.. yet, but I was told that the information is “Open-Source” and hopefully that means More and more things on the horizon. I fumbled through the application without reading the instructions and tried the two “presets” my first night. After seeing the clips made, and realizing that there is a custom setting, I went out the very next night and did things that produced better results. See the results here: Star Trails Clip

First I will talk about the application. It is new in the app store and its good at what it does, however, it does have some room for improvement. There are currently two “themes” (dark sky and light sky), and one “custom” feature in the main menu. The basic instructions can be found here: Star Trails.  Here are a few things I wish I had more control over or could change:

  • I would love to actually keep the stills captured so as to be able to modify and really customize the output in Photoshop or a stacking application if I desired. As the app is now, the images are just used to create an AVI file and then are discarded. There is no trace of them on the memory card and the AVI file is in it’s own file folder. It would be nice to be able to choose between just image files, image files and AVI, or just AVI output.
  • I would also like to be able to set my own exposure time past 30 seconds – maybe up to 99 seconds so I can actually capture some of the star movement in each image.
  • One other thing to change is to make clips that last more than the application limits me to. The longest clip I have been able to make was about 45 seconds.

I would Love to give this feedback to the actual app developers, but cannot find a link to do so on the Sony Entertainment Network site.

I also have ideas for future development of several applications – I just wish I had the knowledge and time to do so! 🙂

Side By Side: Canon 6D / Sony A7II

Tonight is the first time we have had clear skies in quite awhile in Las Vegas,so I decided to go out and put the Sony A7II next to the Canon 6D for a low-light comparison. I am planning a weekend of star-gazing and astrophotography so I wanted to see how the Sony would perform. The catch is that I only have the Sony Zeiss 24/70mm lens for the A7II. Normally I would use a much faster lens to capture the stars. For the comparison, I drove to my favorite night sky location about 45 minutes North of Las Vegas. I love a particular Joshua tree and went there as I am familiar with the area and wanted to do this test without the stresses of finding a new location (I left the house at 9:30pm). I did not use any front lighting for the images below. It was very dark as the moon was not to rise until 1:30am. I used the same tripod (did not move it) and put a quick release plate on both cameras. To focus both cameras, I set each camera to Auto Focus, shined a flashlight on the Joshua tree, locked in the focus, and then set the camera or lens to Manual Focus mode for the actual exposures. I went by the “600 Rule” of star photography (not the ever-popular “500 Rule” that I should have used), and set the Exposure time to 25 seconds on both cameras in manual mode at f/4. To give more details on the setup: The Canon 6D is a Full-Frame camera body with a 20.2 megapixel sensor (5,472 x 3,648). I used the Sigma 24-105mm lens at f/4 and 24mm. The Sony A7II is also a Full-Frame camera body, but has a 24.3 megapixel sensor (6000 x 4000). I had the before mentioned Zeiss 24-70mm lens also set at f/4 and 24mm. I shot seven images with each camera, only changing ISO settings as follows: 400, 800, 1600, 3200, 6400, 12800, and 25600. All images were captured at 3200K white balance. The images were converted to a .jpg file and placed side by side for this blog. There was no additional editing done to these images. I know it is not the best composure, but I was just shooting this as a test. From looking at the results,I can see that the Sony seems a little more sensitive to low light. It appears that the images at the same ISO are a little brighter on the Sony side. The stars are a little soft and have some motion because I SHOULD have stuck with the 500 Rule for night photography and used a shutter speed of 20 seconds for the 24mm lens, but even with that said, the Sony seems to have a crisper star. I also think that the Sony has more of a visible Dynamic Range. You can see more detail in the Joshua tree. The larger points of light actually have a star-point look to them with the Sony images. At 3200 and even 6400 ISO, the Sony seems to handle noise better from what I can see. I am very impressed with the Sony from this non-scientific side by side test. Here are the images, I would love to hear what you think. Please remember to click on the image to see it at the full size.

Canon 6D - ISO 400 - Sony A7II

Canon 6D – ISO 400 – Sony A7II

Canon 6D - ISO 800 - Sony A7II

Canon 6D – ISO 800 – Sony A7II

Canon 6D - ISO 1600 - Sony A7II

Canon 6D – ISO 1600 – Sony A7II

Canon 6D - ISO 3200 - Sony A7II

Canon 6D – ISO 3200 – Sony A7II

Canon 6D - ISO 6400 - Sony A7II

Canon 6D – ISO 6400 – Sony A7II

Canon 6D - ISO 12800 - Sony A7II

Canon 6D – ISO 12800 – Sony A7II

Canon 6D - ISO 25600 - Sony A7II

Canon 6D – ISO 25600 – Sony A7II

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