Deviant Optiks Photography | 2014: A Portfolio Review

2014: A Portfolio Review

December 27, 2014  •  Leave a Comment

The last year was a busy one for photos and I spent more time shooting subjects outside of concert photography. In this post I want to tell you about some the stories behind the images and show you some of my favorite images, or ones that are quite memorable to me.

The year started off with two really good photo sets. I experimented with self-portraits in a studio setting for the first time and I shot 70000 Tons of Metal (70K) for Terrorizer Magazine working alongside Adrian Begrand

Self-portraits are very interesting in that you are telling both sides of the story comprising the image. What you imagine in your mind can be very different than what you end up getting in the camera. For some shots I would end up combining the idea of what I had in my head with what I was seeing in the camera. Or what I saw on the screen was much more interesting than I thought. Sometimes though, it just looked ridiculous and you had to scrap the entire idea. The image below is one of my favorites.

Self Portrait shot using only a modeling light.

70K is quite an experience and so enjoyable to photograph. For the most part the lighting is excellent and there are so many bands of varying styles. I’m always surprised by how many usable photos I get from the metal cruises. Generally the other photographers on the boat are very professional and fun to shoot with.

Carcass on 70k

The rest of the winter was pretty slow and I did not shoot very much of anything. In May I shot the Metal Alliance Tour with Behemoth, 1349, Goatwhore and Black Crown Initiate (Inquisition unfortunately didn’t make it across the border).

Nergal of Behemoth

The the Wacken Metal Battles  put on by Big Nate Productions started up in Calgary and I tried to get out to a few of the final ones when they were at Dicken’s Pub and Lord Nelson’s. Dicken’s is probably the best bar/pub venue in Calgary to do concert photography. It’s a smaller venue but they have invested in their light and sound systems. Alberta winner’s Exit Strategy are always excellent to shoot because they not only play very well live but also actually deliver a performance, which makes me happy because snarling faces make for interesting pictures. The other two bands that I had great pictures from were Black Pestilence from Calgary and Death Toll Rising from Edmonton. Black Pestilence had one of the best light shows I’ve ever seen at Dicken’s that complimented a band’s set and I got some really good crowd interaction shots with Death Toll Rising.

Black Pestilence at the Wacken Metal Battle AB finals.

Death Toll Rising at the Wacken Metal Battle AB finals. Exit Strategy at the Wacken Metal Battle AB finals.

In April I photographed the Villainizer/Black Pestilence vinyl split release parties in Calgary and Edmonton. Both bands put on top quality live performances. Villianzier included the Black Cobras, a very skilled belly dance duo. They were a good addition to the show.

Villainizer at the Pawn Shop in Edmonton.

The big metal event of summer 2014 was Calgary Metal Fest III. Big Nate Productions brought in Big James to act as MC for the event and Bison, Midnight Malice, Pazerfaust and Abigail Williams were the big out of town names.  Everyone’s favorite is of course Big James stripping down to encourage people to spend more money at during charity auction for the Alberta Make A Wish Foundation.

Big James and Big Nate on stage with the Armstrong Metal Fest Organizers.

I spent a lot of the summer working on landscape photography. My very first excursion out was with Jef to Johnston Canyon in July when the waters were still quite high and moving pretty good from the spring melt. It’s definitely one of my favorites of the year. It was also the night of the first of three consecutive super moons so we stayed out a bit later to do some night photography.

Johnston Canyon long exposure at sunset.

I also photographed the Milky Way for the first time while in the Okanagan and made some new photographer friends there. Basically I found some guy on the internet, messaged him, set up a meeting and then he took me 50km outside of Penticton into the woods…along with two other photographers. Stephen of Stephen Hancock Photography, had quite a bit of information about him online and a gallery set up in Penticton so I was pretty sure he wasn’t a psychopath. He also told me that he looked me up on the internet to make sure I wasn’t a weirdo. I spent a couple sunrises and sunsets shooting around the Okanagan area and I can’t wait to go back now that I’ve scouted some areas.

First Milky Way photo taken in the Okanagan. Panoramic of Burrowing Owl Winery at sunrise.

For the Super Moon that occurred in August, I went out with Cassie of Hauntingbird Photography. From our first stop at Lake Minnewanka to our last at Elbow Falls we were out from 9pm to 3am. 

Super moon panoramic at Lake Minnewanka.

October and November were very busy months for concert photography and during a week in San Francisco I did quite a bit of landscape photography. My trip to SF was a the end of October and I photographed Satan and Raven. The Satan show was one of my favorites of the year. The show was held at the Elbo Room, the stage was small, the lighting was okay – mostly reds but for a few songs there were some greens and yellows.

Satan at the Elbo Room in SF.

I photographed the Golden Gate, the Bay Bridge and I went out to Rodeo Beach as well for the interesting rock formations. I was surprised to also get a good shot of the Milky Way at Rodeo beach even with all the light pollution and a very bright crescent moon.

Milky Way at Rodeo Beach. Light pollution from SF on the left and a very bright crescent moon hidden behind the rock on the right. The Bay Bridge at sunrise. The Golden Gate Bridge at sunrise.

November and the beginning of December were packed with shows coming through Calgary. Three shows that really stood out image wise were Gwar, Death To All and Down. The Gwar Eternal Tour was the first time I had photographed the band – somehow I was always busy or away when they came through town. I also conducted one of my favorite interviews ever with one of their newest members Vulvatron, which can be found here. The Swamp Leper Stomp tour with DTA had a killer line up and DTA brought their own lights. Down with Orange Goblin at Flames Central was a really fun show. When the bands run around, interact with the crowd, each and photographers you get an interesting variety of action shots.

Blothar of Gwar spraying the crowd with blood. DTA at Machall in Calgary. I got pulled up on stage to take this photo of Down at Flames Central.

I ended the year the way I started it, with a set of self-portraits. I rented studio space from Kevin Stenhouse who I had met at a nude photography workshop in 2013. There was a lot to play with in the studio and I didn’t even get to try everything I wanted with all the lights, modifiers and backdrop settings there.  

Self portrait shot with a narrow grid modifier. Self portrait with a DYI ring light.

Since I was all done up for the self-portraits I decided I would try some aerial straps photos that evening too. I thought this would be pretty challenging, but it was even more difficult than I initially thought. I had also popped out a rib the day before so some of the more difficult poses I wanted to capture I could only attempt a couple of times. So if my lighting wasn’t set up how I wanted I didn’t get the image.

Aerial straps back shot.

On the same day of the self-portraits Kurtis contacted me to let me know he had found a clear patch of sky near Madden and was going out to shoot the Aurora. I quickly packed up my gear and headed out to meet him. Unfortunately the clouds rolled in pretty fast and I didn’t spend much time shooting. I’ve decided I like the composition of the image below , even with the cloud picking up all the light pollution.

Thank you to all my clients this year and all my photographer friends who went out on landscape and night photography adventures with me. I plan on chasing the aurora for the rest of the season in 2015 and getting out for more landscape photography in the mountains. In January 2015 I will starting my concert photography year on 70k with Adrien Begrand for Terrorizer Magazine. 


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