Category Archives: Musicians

Well F*ck You Cancer Benefit at The Wanch

Checking back, I see it has been 3 months since my last post. That’s because my time has been split between my day job and getting ready to leave Hong Kong and move to Manila. (Here are the details on that in case you don’t read my other blog.) Actually pretty much the only photos I’ve shot over the past few months have been related to my house-hunting in Manila. I haven’t pulled out my Nikon D800 in so long, I wasn’t sure I remembered how to use it properly. But tonight, I did pull it out and shoot a show at The Wanch.

The show was called “Well Fuck You Cancer” and it was a benefit to raise money for Sue Shearman’s medical expenses. Sue is a singer in Hong Kong whom I’ve shot a couple of times and she was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. Here’s a shot of her I took a few years ago.


Sadly, Sue passed away just hours before the show was scheduled to start. The musicians all went ahead with the show as a tribute to her.


I wasn’t able to stay as long as I would have liked, but I did manage to catch 4 of the 15 scheduled bands (which also served to highlight the amazing diversity of Hong Kong’s indie music scene). Here are some shots.

Dark Himaya:




Les Gromechkos:



Sushi Robot with guest Joul from Dr. Eggs (Joul was the organizer of the event):




Kestrels and Kites:





When I leave Hong Kong, one of my regrets will be that I didn’t get to spend as much time as I would have liked at The Wanch in the past couple of years. I hope I can find a similar kind of music spot in Manila.



Orange Peel

Orange Peel is a new music bar and lounge in Lan Kwai Fong. If you know Peel Fresco in Soho, most of the people involved in that bar are also running this one. A close friend is one of the co-owners, which mean I was invited to their soft opening party last night. Lots of wine and lots of live music.

Since it was a Saturday night and since I intended to drink more than Coca Cola, I didn’t want to lug a bag full of gear along. I slipped my Sony RX100 Mark III into my pocket to see how well it would do. The answer is – for the most part, quite good for its size.


(1/160th of a second, F2.8, ISO 5000)

These days I tend to mostly shoot semi-manual – manual shutter speed, manual F stop, auto ISO.


What I’m liking:

Of course, the faster lens, that only drops down to F2.8 instead of the useless (for me) F4.9 of the older Sony RX100 Mark I.

The tilt screen and electronic viewfinder (EVF) were both amazingly helpful for composing shots.

The shots when the camera chose ISO 4000 or ISO 5000 were all quite acceptable.

There’s no noticeable lag between pushing the shutter button and actually taking the shot, meaning I could capture the moments I wanted.


What I’m not liking:

When the camera “dropped down” to ISO 6400, the results were starting to get unacceptably noisy, as seen in this photo:



Also, I clearly need to go back to the manual and read more about the focus modes. I must be doing something wrong, because I tried just about every combination of focus and metering modes and the camera kept selecting faces off to the side, rather than the one smack in the middle of the image, to focus on. Even though depth of field when shooting wide open on a small sensor camera isn’t quite as narrow as on a full frame, it’s still “off” enough to be noticeable.


Overall, I’m quite pleased with the results. The Sony RX100 Mark III is an amazingly capable camera for its size. I can only begin to guess how much better a Mark V or Mark VI might be a few years down the line.

I also had a really nice time at Orange Peel and wish them a lot of luck going forward.


Robben Ford Photo Gallery Is Up

Legendary guitarist Robben Ford appeared live in concert in Hong Kong at the Sha Tin Town Hall on April 29, 2014.  My photos from the concert can be found here. Here’s one to hopefully whet your appetite to see more.

Robben Ford



Robben Ford, Jeff Beck, Hong Kong

Here’s another of my shots of Robben Ford live in Hong Kong, April 29 2014.

Robben Ford

Robben Ford


And just for the hell of it, here’s a couple of never-before posted shots of Jeff Beck live in Hong Kong in 2010.


Jeff Beck live in Hong Kong

Jeff Beck live in Hong Kong

Jeff Beck

Jeff Beck


Robben Ford in Hong Kong // Learning Photoshop

Guitarist Robben Ford appeared at the Sha Tin Town Hall in Hong Kong on April 29th.  Ford is a “guitarist’s guitarist,” a true master of his instrument. He first came to fame as a member of Tom Scott’s L.A. Express in the 1970s, backing up Joni Mitchell and others. I saw him live and became a fan when he was a member of Miles Davis’s band in the 80’s.  It’s kind of indicative of the Hong Kong music scene that Ford just sold out several nights at the Blue Note in Tokyo and then followed that with just a single night in Hong Kong – in an out-of-the-way-for-most venue, no sponsors, and probably only 50% sold out.

To be honest, as much of a fan as I am of Ford’s playing, his music leaves me kind of cold. He had a great band – Ricky Peterson on the Hammond B3, Brian Allen on acoustic and electric bass, Wes Little on drums, fantastic musicians all, and all given plenty of space during the course of the show to stretch out.  But I find Ford to be an average singer and his material rather bland. The solos were great and he talked enough with the audience but I didn’t get any feeling of emotional involvement with what the musicians were playing, nor did I find the show to have any sort of pacing that might lead to a rousing climax. Given the reviews I read of his shows in Tokyo, it could well be that they were feeling dispirited by the meager turn-out in Hong Kong; it’s difficult for me to say.

Anyway, here’s one shot from the show (more to follow):

Robben Ford in Hong Kong

Robben Ford in Hong Kong

Let me veer off from a concert review into a somewhat related topic – learning Photoshop.

I’ve had Photoshop sitting on my computer for a long time. Mostly I load the program and look at all of the tools and palettes and windows and think to myself, “Where do I even start?” It’s daunting to the novice. And there’s so much educational material out there that I couldn’t figure out how to even start learning this program.

And then I came across this video by photographer/instruction Terry White on YouTube. It’s called How to Get Started With Adobe Photoshop CC – 10 Things Beginners Want to Know How To Do.  Catchy title, eh? But this 46 minute video really does show you how to do the ten things photographers might most often want to do, and while the lessons are obviously going to be brief, they are good enough to get you started.

The point being, once I stopped crying “Photoshop is hard, I can never learn it” and actually sat down and started using it, I found that I could pick up the basic stuff easily. Becoming a master at Photoshop – that’s something else, that will take weeks and months of actual usage. But for the first time, I actually feel as if it is something I can – and will – accomplish.

So I started off with something a bit simpler – this photo in which I liked keeping his vintage-looking Fender amp in the photo.


But that bit of the mike stand in the upper right is annoying, right? Of course, taking out a small thing like that, against a black background, is super easy to do.


I wanted to challenge myself a bit more.

So, back to the first photo in this blog poast.  Here’s a tiny bit of my workflow on that photo, starting with the original photo.



This was shot with my Nikon D800 and my Nikon 70-200mm F2.8 lens at 130mm, 6400 ISO, 1/200th of a second, F2.8.  Of course I’m shooting RAW, and here’s the original photo, unretouched except for exporting out of Lightroom as a jpeg.

I was shooting with white balance set to auto, as I almost always do, but that’s pretty easy to correct in Lightroom when you’re shooting RAW. And then I crop pretty ruthlessly, as I tend to do. A few more adjustments here and there left me with this:


Now the “old me” would consider that photo as finished.  But I looked at it and found the blue band on the right hand side distracting.  With my newly acquired Photoshop skills, it was a simple matter to get rid of that. Simple, except that there are about 20 different ways to do each common task in Photoshop and different people have different paths to similar results. So in my case I tried 2 or 3 different things – finally settling on something that would also allow me to get rid of those distracting green water bottles in the bottom left of the photo.

The key was in figuring out how to properly use the Quick Selection Tool.  But what I didn’t know about until this week was that after one has gotten the selection one wants, there’s that little button up top labelled “Refine Edge” – and that’s where the magic comes in.

Oh, by the way, a lot of stuff in Photoshop gets easier when you are doing things with a tablet and pen rather that with a mouse. The medium size Wacom Intuos tablet costs around US$200, is incredibly quick and easy to set up and just gives you so much better control when you’re doing things. I highly recommend it.

I’m not convinced this was my best shot of the night, but it was definitely one that gave me room to stretch and improve my post-processing skills. I’ll be going through the rest of the shots in the next few days and will add a gallery page soon.