Thursday, July 25, 2013

Noblesville Street Dance treated
to a memorable show by the Bishops

Even before I arrived in Noblesville, Ind., to photograph the Bishops' performance at the city's annual Street Dance, I knew what one of my first objectives would be when I reached the courthouse square: find an elevated place where I could best capture the swarm of people who would crowd the streets in front of the stage by night's end.

I'd never been to the Street Dance, so I didn't know how organizers positioned the stage or where it was set up. When I did get there, I saw the stage faced southwest, at the corner of Ninth and Logan streets, overlooking the courthouse at the northeast corner of the square.

That limited my options. The ideal point would be in the courthouse, but it is closed and locked on weekends. Buildings to the west along Logan Street would allow me good crowd shots, but the stage would be side-view, a profile, at best. So I focused my hunt on buildings to the east along Ninth.

My first stop was the Asian Grill, and the kind manager, Andrew Leonard, told me the front section of the two-story building's roof was inaccessible, but he offered me a spot through a window in a second-floor office. I took a look, and while the shot I wanted would require some contortion -- a position I would not be able to hold long -- it nevertheless was doable. Leonard suggested I check next door to the south, at Rosie's Place cafe.

I did do that, and the owner quickly told me that the roof was inaccessible and indicated there was no upper-floor option. None of the other businesses along Ninth was open, so I knew my hopes would be pinned to that office view at the Asian Grill.

When the crowd density reached its pinnacle, which didn't occur until after the sun went down, I returned to the Asian Grill's second-story office and grabbed a series of shots, first with the EF 24-70mm f/2.8L lens on my Canon 7D. One of those shots you see above, leading off today's post, and was taken at ISO 1250, f/2.8 and 1/250. Then I switched to my 30D equipped with the EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS telephot lens and grabbed some closeups, one of which I'll include with the images below. The 7D's more expansive ISO options and its superior noise-reduction ability enabled me to boost the shadows on the wider angle shot in post-production and provide the definition that I knew I wouldn't get from the older 30D's more restrictive ISO. The 30D's ISO tops out at 3200, but quality is terrible at that setting, and even 1600 is, to me, more often unacceptable with that camera. I shot the 30D pictures at ISO 1600 and treated them in Noiseware to minimize noise.

Getting that elevated shot made my night, a shoot where I also grabbed photos of dancers of all ages and saw frontman Bryan Bishop in peak form, leading the sextet from one musical style to another. He used props (e.g., a baseball cap worn slightly askew a la hip-hop, a curly-haired wig, hand weights) to match the genre and amp the entertainment level. He brought several dancers from the crowd on stage, ranging from an energetic Brandon, a boy who looked no more than 6 years old and who matched Bishop move for move (and then some) during a hip-hop number, to five teens who grooved to the show's finale, "Play That Funky Music."

Perhaps the biggest crowd-participation moment came after dark, when the band played a country tune that triggered a massive line dance.

In the photos presented below, I tried to offer some shots different (or varied) from those I uploaded to an album at my page at Facebook. So if you've not seen the Facebook album, it'd be worth checking out ... and vice versa.

And if you're interested in seeing ALL the images I took, you can visit the Street Dance album at my site at SmugMug.

Above and below: Before the band took the stage, Street Dance attendees got to witness the ice-cream eating contest in front of the stage. The boy below got an unobstructed view of the stage.

Above: The girls in the front anchored the band's support section for the early part of the segment.

Above: Hair aflyin', this girl entertained crowd members early in the evening. When she joined the band on stage later on, she wasn't as interested in performing.

Above: Matt Ley during one of this two no-look behind the head solos on the night.

Above: Perspective and access makes it difficult to get a photo of all band members in a unit with five or more members. This shot of the six performers was taken while mixing with the crowd ... and holding the camera above to shoot over people's heads. From left: R.J. Johnson, Bryan Bishop, John Marque, Georgette Fraction, Eldon Hawkins and Matt Ley.

Above: R.J. Johnson on lead vocals for Montell Jordan's "This Is How We Do It." 

Above and below: A few more dancers during the early evening. Both frames are exclusive to this post; a different frame of the couple above appears at the Facebook album.

Above and below: Shots of the courthouse as seen from the stage at different times of the evening. Above, around 7:15 p.m., as the smoke from vendor grills floats across. Below, at late twilight ... just as a roaming golden light from an unknown source splashes against the lower portion of the frame.

Above: The band, seen from the second floor of the Asian Grill and through a 70-200mm telephoto lens.

Above and below: Two shots of Georgette; the one above, the original color, is a variation of the sepia used in the Facebook album. 

Above and below: Two shots of guitarist Matt Ley, the above a monochrome variation of the sepia used in the Facebook album.

Above: This teen, Jordan, was itching for something exciting to happen for the first hour or so of the show when he and some friends hung out and danced close to the stage. He finally got his 15 minutes of fame when the band invited him up ... and Jordan took full advantage, much to the entertainment of band members Johnson, Fraction and Bishop.

Above: Bassist Eldon Hawkins emerged from his usual post at the back to take the limelight during this solo when Bryan introduced all of the band members one by one.

Above and below: Two shots of drummer John Marque, above from very up close and personal (as in right next to the drum set) and, below, during his introductory solo.

Above: R.J. Johnson in a rare moment when both hands aren't required on the keyboards.

Above and below: An experiment to use Matt Ley's unused guitars (foreground) to juxtapose with band member R.J. Johnson (above) and to use to sort of frame Eldon Hawkins. Not sure it works, but ... there it is.

Above and below: Bishop and Fraction in a hip-hop duet that peaks with an intimate moment (below).

Above: Bishop sheds the rapper cap in favor of a curly-haired wig and hand weights. With this pose, he was thinking the Hulk; when I saw it, I thought of Saturday Night Live's long-ago "We want to pump ... you up!" sketch.

Above: This youngster dazzled everyone. So much energy, so many smooth moves.

Above: The line dance in full-throttle mode.

Above and next two below: For the finale song, three gals and two guys joined the band for "Play That Funky Music." At one interlude, one of the gals glanced over in Matt's direction (below) and appeared to be admiring his picking and fret work. When it was over, the guys (second below) helped the band salute the crowd for a great evening.

Monday, July 1, 2013

Coming up: Tropical plant photo shoot,
meet Indy Star photographers

A couple of events aimed at photographers are coming up in the Indianapolis area and worth noting here.

From 8 to 10 a.m. Saturday, July 13, the Garfield Park Conservatory, 2505 Conservatory Drive, on the Southside of Indianapolis will allow just photographers inside to photograph the climate-controlled greenhouse, which houses an array of tropical plants and a koi pond you would not otherwise see or photograph unrestricted in this area.

The key here is that photographers will be allowed to bring along and use tripods for this shoot only.

This is the third time I know of that the conservatory has done this for photographers. It's a big deal not only because of the opportunity to photograph tropical plants and foliage, but also because tripods ordinarily are not allowed inside the conservatory.

Why are tripods important here? Although the conservatory has glass side windows to allow natural light to pass through, it has an opaque roof, so the natural light illumination is partially restricted, making exposure a critical issue for photographers. Some kind of camera support is necessary most of the time to shoot at those desirable low ISO levels, which in turn require slow shutter speeds; wider apertures could be a variable, too, but with close-up shots, stopping down to f/8 and lower is imperative to ensure inclusive depth of field for the full range of the picture subject, thereby requiring slow shutters, which often renders hand-hold shots dicey if not impossible.

The cost of this shoot is $5; registration is required for this photo opp, and space is limited; they don't want to overbook so as to result in photographers tripping over each other.

To register, call (317) 327-7580 or send an email to

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Then from 6 to 9 p.m. Friday, July 19, The Indianapolis Star will host another free "Meet the Photographers" night.

Photographers and the general public will be invited to the sixth floor of the Star building at 307 N. Pennsylvania St. for an evening of conversation discussing techniques and the joy of sports photography and visual journalism.

The Star asks that you RSVP by email to staff photographer Danese Kenon at

I attended the previous "Meet the Photographers" evening in January 2012 and thought it was very well done; others who attended had similar impressions. The evening began with an informal chat with individual staff photographers one on one and was followed by a slide show presentation that included images taken by Star photographer Matt Kryger in the moments after the stage collapsed from a sudden wind torrent during a Sugarland concert at the Indiana State Fair in August 2011 (two photos above).

The 2012 program concluded with a question-and-answer session (above), where photographer Rob Goebel is answering a question, flanked by fellow staff photographers (from left) Danese Kenon, Marc Lebryk, Joe Vitti, Kelly Wilkinson and Matt Detrich.

The upcoming session could be particularly poignant given two recent developments: 1) The Star's impending move out of its longtime headquarters (this could be the only -- or last -- opportunity you'll have to be in the building); 2) the decision by the Chicago Sun Times to lay off its entire photography staff in favor of photo stringers and reporters using phone cameras.