BMOOREVISUALS Blog

The blog of entertainment photographer Brad Moore

Update from Nashville

Ascend Amphitheater and the Nashville skyline

It's been a while since I shared anything on here, so I figured I would just do a general update on life since moving to Nashville.

First off, I'm loving it here. Nashville is a pretty fantastic place to live. I've been wanting to live here since my days of visiting the city when I was in college. That desire has only grown stronger in the past few years with more and more friends moving here. Every time I would visit, it just felt like home.

Plus, since finishing college, I've lived far enough away from my family that it was always an ordeal to come visit. Now I can make a day trip to see my parents if I want. I also wanted my niece and nephew to know their Uncle Brad in person, not just over video chat. It's nice to have that technology, but you can't go swimming with them or play with them or snuggle up and read a bedtime story together over an iPad. So being able to see them more often is great.

Fun with Snapchat filters!

Fun with Snapchat filters!

Nashville is just one of those cities that still feels like a small town, even though it's definitely growing very rapidly. I'm currently sitting at one of MANY coffee shops here, and just across the street is an artisan chocolate company. One of the stars of the TV show Nashville came in, had a sandwich, and left completely unbothered by anyone (though it was very tempting to tell him I was a big fan, but I decided to let him enjoy his sandwich in peace). Just to paint a slice of life picture for you.

This is an incredibly creative city. There is no shortage of people making great art here, whether it be music, photography, food, videos, coffee, paintings, whiskey, or any number of other endeavors. There's a reason there are so many coffee shops and co-work spaces in town. They're always full of people getting caffeinated and staring at their laptops. You might walk in and think, "Why aren't all of these people at work right now??" But they are. They're just working for themselves. There's also a good chance that they're a musician, guitar tech, tour manager, bus driver or what have you that are home from tour for a few days before hitting the road again.

So yeah, this place has a certain allure that isn't very common, which is why so many people are drawn to it. But that's enough about Nashville. What have I been up to?

I am a full time freelancer now. What's that mean? I work for myself, for anyone who will hire me, and I'm trying my hand at new stuff as well.

Photo bombing during the Shoot Like A Pro seminar. Photo courtesy of @bhphotovideo on Twitter

Photo bombing during the Shoot Like A Pro seminar. Photo courtesy of @bhphotovideo on Twitter

I still work with Scott and the gang at KelbyOne quite a bit. If you're at one of his seminars, you'll see me there working alongside him. I'm still managing Guest Blog Wednesday and New Class Thursday for his blog, and I'll be assisting him on a few things at Photo Plus Expo this week. Can't wait to see everyone there! Scott and I have a great relationship (probably better than ever now that I'm not around every day to annoy him constantly ;-) ), and I'm incredibly thankful for him and his continued support.

Bear Rinehart of Needtobreathe in Nashville, Tennessee

Mat Kearney in Knoxville, Tennessee

Beck at Pilgrimage Festival in Franklin, Tennessee

Grace Potter at Pilgrimage Festival in Franklin, Tennessee

Sunset at Pilgrimage Festival in Franklin, Tennessee

I'm still shooting concerts when I can. I'm not really shooting for anyone right now, so it mostly ends up being bands I'm connected to in some way, or I find a way in through a friend who is connected. I'll go weeks without shooting sometimes, then I'll shoot for three days in a row. So goes the ebb and flow of the freelance life.

On location with Robby Klein and Curb Records artist Selah

On location with Robby Klein and Curb Records artist Selah

Production shot of the group photo Robby Klein shot for People Magazine before ACM Honors show at Ryman Auditorium in Nashville, Tennessee

Production shot of the group photo Robby Klein shot for People Magazine before ACM Honors show at Ryman Auditorium in Nashville, Tennessee

I'm also assisting my buddy Robby Klein from time to time when he needs an extra hand on a shoot. So far I've helped him on shoots for Billboard, People, ELLE, and Curb Records. It's always helpful to see how other photographers work, as well as network with other people in the industry. Being visible helps people remember you exist and they're more likely to think of you when they need something you can provide. And most people here are just cool people and I like getting to know cool people. So it's a win-win!

Video contains a profanity. Check out Matt's new album American Wilderness on iTunes and Spotify!

Speaking of networking and creativity, I've also started partnering up with a new friend, Phil Barnes, on video work. Phil and I met when we both showed up at our friend Matt Hires' concert with the idea of doing a video for Matt. We hadn't met before that night, and it seemed silly to me that we were each going to do a video for Matt, so I asked Phil if he wanted to work on it together. He said yes, so we planned out who would shoot what, then got together to do the edit the next day. A few hours later we were finished with our first video, and that was the beginning of Phil and Brad Make Videos. We're just getting started with this, and I'm excited to see where it goes! Here's another one we made for another Matt, but you can watch more on Vimeo or YouTube and keep an eye out for more in the works.

And somewhere in between all of this, I decided to go check out the Grand Canyon for the first time ever. My parents were on a trip out west and said I should come meet up with them, so I booked a flight for the next morning and made the trip!

Sunset at the Grand Canyon from Mather Point

So, that's more or less what I've been up to. Working and networking in my favorite city, enjoying the delicious things it has to offer, making new friends, spending more time with family, and just enjoying life!

Five Dudes And A Panda: Shooting Dude Perfect!

A couple of weeks ago I had the opportunity to fly down to Texas and photograph Dude Perfect for their Fall 2016 product line launch. If you're not familiar with Dude Perfect, they're a group of guys who do sports trick shots and other entertaining things on their YouTube channel and have gained quite a large following. They also have a reality show on CMT that's rather entertaining.

So, how does one go about getting hired for something like this, then execute it? Glad you asked...

It starts when you get a phone call from your friend who is the chief creative officer at Rivals Group, a creative brand strategy house based in Tampa, asking if you’re available and interested in doing the shoot after filling you in on what it is. You say yes, put together an estimate so they know what it’s going to cost, and then they hire you if they approve of your estimate.

After that, you get to work finding a local assistant, stylist, and place to rent gear. Thankfully the shoot was taking place just north of Dallas, and I have friends at WELD in Dallas who I could reach out to for help with these things. My buddy Hoyoung Lee pointed me in the right directions for these things and I was off. Assistant, check. Stylist, check. Rental house, check. Now what do I actually need to rent?

Being a location shoot and not knowing what the exact status of the building was going to be, I opted for battery powered lights rather than AC units, specifically Profoto B1 Air heads. This allowed me to set up anywhere and not worry about being near outlets or running extension cords. I also planned for having two setups, a white seamless and then lifestyle shots, so I rented two sets of three lights (that’s six heads for you math nuts out there) so we could quickly move between setups if need be.

An iPhone pano of the new Dude Perfect HQ, still being finished, from upstairs. That's a soccer field in the back, the just-finished basketball court on the right, an in-progress putting green (that's the gravel that serves as the base under the actual green), and in the left bottom corner the Dude Perfect Epic Cart (I have an idea for a shot I want to make involving this if I get to go back and shoot again in the future...)

An iPhone pano of the new Dude Perfect HQ, still being finished, from upstairs. That's a soccer field in the back, the just-finished basketball court on the right, an in-progress putting green (that's the gravel that serves as the base under the actual green), and in the left bottom corner the Dude Perfect Epic Cart (I have an idea for a shot I want to make involving this if I get to go back and shoot again in the future...)

The plan was to shoot at Dude Perfect’s new headquarters, which was still under construction and being moved into, but had plenty of space to set up for the shoot. Our primary goal was to photograph all five Dudes and the Panda (their mascot) wearing their new products, as well as two kids for the youth line. These shots are for the online storefront and shot on white seamless. Our secondary goal was to do some lifestyle shots of the Dudes in action to add a little extra flavor.

For the seamless setup, I used two lights on the background, shot through umbrellas, for an even lighting, and one light up front with a 5’ octa boomed out for even lighting on the garments. This isn’t a situation for creative lighting and dark shadows; the point is to showcase the products, so you use whatever lighting best does that. And thankfully each light came with two batteries and a charger, which was vital since I was shooting at f/11 and the lights were all at full or nearly full power. We kept an eye on battery levels and swapped them out between subjects. To create two separate zones of light (so that the background lights don’t spill onto the subjects), I had everyone stand about 10 to 12 feet off the background.

Photographing one of the youth models while Chief Creative Officer Joel Cook and Stylist Ana Patiño make sure everything is looking good. Photo by Ashley Allen

Photographing one of the youth models while Chief Creative Officer Joel Cook and Stylist Ana Patiño make sure everything is looking good. Photo by Ashley Allen

Photographing Cory Cotton.  Photo by Ashley Allen

Photographing Cory Cotton.  Photo by Ashley Allen

This was all shot on a Canon 1DX with a 70-200mm lens (thanks Canon!) and tethered into Lightroom.

In post, all the seamless setup shots were cropped square to fit the layout of the online storefront, and I used the adjustment brush to make sure the backgrounds were all completely white (the auto masking works pretty darn well for this!). Doing this part with a Wacom Intuos Pro tablet also really helps for getting into those nooks and crannies with precision.

We put cardboard down on the court underneath the light stands to ensure they didn't damage the court since this was literally the day after it had been finished, and thus the first day anyone was on it.

We put cardboard down on the court underneath the light stands to ensure they didn't damage the court since this was literally the day after it had been finished, and thus the first day anyone was on it.

For the lifestyle setup, I used two strip banks with eggcrate grids for edge lighting, and the 5’ octa again as the front light. We wound up only having time for one setup using this, but there’s definitely possibility for some cool shots in the future. I rented all the lighting and grip gear from Bolt Productions, which is conveniently located just around the corner from WELD in Dallas. For this I used a Canon 5D Mark III and 24-70mm lens.

This was a group shot with the youth models without Profoto lighting, but it shows the scissor lift and my position for the lifestyle shot coming up below. Photo by Ashley Allen

This was a group shot with the youth models without Profoto lighting, but it shows the scissor lift and my position for the lifestyle shot coming up below. Photo by Ashley Allen

Cory Cotton, Coby Cotton, Cody Jones, Garrett Hilbert, and Tyler Toney of Dude Perfect

Cory Cotton, Coby Cotton, Cody Jones, Garrett Hilbert, and Tyler Toney of Dude Perfect

The one setup we did was on the new DP basketball court. They had a scissor lift on hand for the painting and various other things that were going on, so I used that to get up high and shoot down on the court. I tried to set up the edge lights so they wouldn’t be in the shot, but it was such a wide shot that it wasn’t working because they were too far away from the subjects. So I got up on the lift and shot a “plate” image, a shot of the court without the lights in it, then asked my assistant to move the lights back into position. I did some test shots to make sure everything was good to go, then brought the Dudes out for the shot.

The editing process in layers: plate (clean shot of court), shot with lights in frame, using a layer mask to get rid of the lights, overall toning, color adjustment, selective brightening of faces, more toning and removing light reflections on the floor, brightening Cory's arm and shadows on the floor, and a little more overall toning.

The editing process in layers: plate (clean shot of court), shot with lights in frame, using a layer mask to get rid of the lights, overall toning, color adjustment, selective brightening of faces, more toning and removing light reflections on the floor, brightening Cory's arm and shadows on the floor, and a little more overall toning.

To create the final image, I took the plate shot and the shot with the Dudes into Photoshop and merged them together to end up with a final shot of the Dudes but no lights.

If you want to see how the shots were used, head over to the Dude Perfect Store, browse around, and place an order!

A HUGE THANKS to all of these fantastic people:

Chief Creative Officer R I V A L S / / G R P: Joel Cook
Director of Creative Brand Strategy R I V A L S / / G R P: Trevor Erickson
Stylist: Ana Patiño
Assistant: Ashley Allen

And to Dude Perfect and our youth models for being so gracious and easy to work with!

Choosing Lenses

Choosing lenses can be confusing with so many things to take into consideration... Focal length, maximum aperture, weight, price, prime vs. zoom, etc. I'm going to try and break things down as best I can and hopefully give you a better understanding of all this so you can make a more informed decision on what to purchase.

What Do All Those Numbers Mean?
When looking at lenses, you’re going to see lots of different numbers. The first ones are going to be followed by mm. So, 24-70mm or 70-200mm or 16-35mm or whatever. This is the focal length. The smaller the number, the “wider” the lens, so these are called wide angle lenses. The bigger the number, the “longer” the lens, and these are called telephoto lenses once they're 70mm or more. After these numbers, you’ll see some that start with f/. So, f/2.8, f/4, f/3.5-5.6, etc. This is the maximum f-stop or aperture (the terms are relatively interchangeable). The lower the number, the “faster” the lens, aka glass. The bigger the number, the “slower” the lens/glass. Let’s dig into these two sets of numbers a little deeper…

Zoom vs. Prime Lenses
If you see two numbers, like 24-70mm, on a lens, that means it’s a zoom lens. These lenses let you get closer to or further away from your subject without physically moving yourself to do so. If there’s only one number, like 35mm, this means it’s a fixed focal length, or “prime," lens. So if you want to get closer or further away from your subject, you have to “zoom with your feet,” as Joe McNally says.

Fixed vs. Variable Aperture
If you see one number, like f/2.8, on a lens, that means it’s a fixed aperture lens. All prime lenses are fixed aperture, as well as some zoom lenses. This means that no matter what focal length the lens is at, your maximum aperture will remain the same. If you see two numbers, like f/3.5-5.6, then it’s a variable aperture lens. This means that as you zoom the lens in or back out, the maximum aperture is going to change. If I’m using an 18-135mm f/3.5-5.6 lens, the maximum aperture will change from f/3.5 when I’m at 18mm and then incrementally increase to f/5.6 as I zoom to 135mm.

Putting It All Together
While zoom lenses can be fast, prime lenses tend to be faster. For example, the Canon 24-70mm f/2.8 is around $1750 currently. But if I wanted a faster fixed lens, I have lots of options at different price points. I can get a 35mm f/2 lens for around $600 or the original f/1.4 version for around $1000 (there’s a new version that is priced around $1800). Lots of 35mm options for Nikon shooters as well. Or I can look at the Canon 50mm lineup and go anywhere from $110 for the f/1.8 version to $350 for the f/1.4 version  or even tack on an extra grand and spend $1350 for the f/1.2 version. Again, Nikon also has various 50mm options.

But, you have to take into account what kinds of shooting situations you find yourself in most often. Can you zoom with your feet? If so, then prime lenses might be the best for you. If not and you’re in situations with limited space (say, a photo pit at a concert), then zoom lenses might be best. And what camera are you shooting with? Does it handle high ISO situations pretty well? If so, you might prefer shooting at a higher ISO with a slower lens to spending more money on a faster lens.

The "Standard" Pro Setup
A lot of working pros have what is referred to as the "trinity" of lenses. For Canon shooters, that's the 11-24mm f/4 or 16-35mm f/2.8, 24-70mm f/2.8, and 70-200mm f/2.8. For Nikon shooters, it's the 14-24mm f/2.8, 24-70mm f/2.8, and 70-200mm f/2.8. Why these lenses? They're going to cover you really well in most situations all the way from super wide to telephoto, and they're all pretty fast lenses so they're helpful if you're shooting in low light situations. These are also high end lenses, so they're going to put a dent in your wallet. Worth it if you need it, but...

Saving Money
Do you really need to spring for the most expensive options? Unless you’re shooting in low light situations, you probably don’t. For example, my buddy Peter Hurley does the vast majority of his work in the studio where he’s controlling the light, so he uses the Canon 70-200mm f/4 lens instead of the 70-200mm f/2.8. What’s the difference? About $1350, a stop of light, and nearly half the weight.

So, for Peter the f/4 version makes more sense because if he needs more light, he’s in his studio and can adjust the power. And he never shoots at f/2.8, so why spend all that extra money and add twice the weight to what he’s holding and carrying around in his gear bag? Nikon makes 70-200mm f/4 and 70-200mm f/2.8 lenses as well. The price difference isn’t as big as Canon’s, but $600 is still a lot of money!

But for someone like me who does concert and behind the scenes work, I need that extra stop of light that the f/2.8 version gives me. Could I get by with the f/4? A lot of the time, yes. But if I’m in a small venue with bad lighting trying to shoot a high-energy artist that doesn’t allow flash, I’m going to be hard pressed to get a single shot that isn’t blurry, even at 25,600 ISO. My wallet may be thinner and my shoulders may be a bit more sore at the end of the night, but at least the images are sharp!

Full Frame vs. Crop Frame
One last thing to consider is whether you're shooting on a full frame or a crop sensor camera. Most of the lower-end DSLRs are crop sensors, meaning they are smaller than full frame sensors. Some lenses are made to only cover the size of the crop sensor, so if you use them on a full frame camera, your image will be cropped and you'll lose some of your resolution, as you see below on the right.

However, if you purchase full frame lenses, you can use them on any camera without a loss of image resolution. If you do use them on a crop sensor camera, then they effectively become a "longer" lens because of the smaller sensor size. So what was a 70-200mm lens becomes an approximately 105-300mm lens, depending on the exact size of the crop sensor.

So which should you buy? If you never plan on upgrading to a full-frame camera and alway sticking with a crop sensor camera, then you can save some money and only buy crop lenses. But if you think you might make the jump to a full frame camera, it's up to you if you want to save in the short term then buy new lenses when you make the jump, or go ahead and invest now to save yourself the hassle later.

On Canon, crop lenses are indicated by the letters EF-S (full frame lenses are just EF), and Nikon indicates their crop lenses with the letters DX (full frame lenses are FX). And to find out if your camera body is full frame or crop sensor, just look up the specs online and it should be one of the first things listed. Canon crop sensors will say APS-C sensor (full frame will just say full frame), and Nikon crop sensors will say DX-Format while full frame will say FX-Format.

Conclusion
I hope this helps you when choosing which lenses to buy. When in doubt, you can always rent lenses (and other gear) from places like LensProToGoBorrow Lenses, or Lens Rentals to try them before you buy them. And once you do decide to make the purchase, using my B&H affiliate links for Canon lenses and Nikon lenses will help me keep bringing you content like this.

The Rebirth of Underoath, Pt. 3 - Tech Rehearsals

Tech rehearsals are when artists go to a rehearsal space (sometimes a space dedicated to just this purpose, sometimes a smaller venue that happens to be available for the time they need to dial everything in), so they can set up their full production (video screens, lights, and all the other things that go into a show) and run through their set to work out any kinks or technical difficulties before they play in front of an audience.

So for the two days between the "secret show" and their first official show of the tour, that's what they did. The first day was mostly getting everything set up and plugged in and wired and rigged up correctly. Just enough for the band to run through and make sure all their gear is synced up properly.

Since the lights and video screens were still in the process of being fully set up, I decided to treat the first day's shoot as behind the scenes, and thus converted these image to black and white.

When I arrived at day two of tech rehearsal, the full production was up and running, so it was kind of like my own private preview of the concert! With the band allowing me access to cover these days, I was able to get some shots that would just be darn near impossible to get during the actual concert.

They're not going to put up with a photographer running around the stage the entire time they're trying to perform, no matter how good of a friend they may be. But that's basically what I was able to do here.

Well, it wasn't really my own private preview... Some of the band members' wives and kids were on hand to see their husbands/dads at work too ;-)

Not your typical "bring your kids to work day," right?!

And now that tech rehearsals are over, it's time to play the gig.

The Rebirth of Underoath, Pt. 2 - Secret Show

While many of the band's shows on the tour are already sold out, including their first show tonight at an approximately 2,000-person capacity venue, they announced a "secret show" at a 400-person capacity venue in Tampa on Sunday night. This show was $10 at the door on a first come, first serve basis; and once it was full, it was full.

The venues they normally play at have big stages and a barricade/photo pit between the crowd and the band. Not so at this one, as you can see in the video below:

This time I was armed with the same Canon 1DX bodies and 70-200mm f/2.8, but this time I had the 11-24mm f/4 and 24-70mm f/2.8 lenses as well. The latter two ended up being the only ones I used during Underoath's set since it was such a small venue. I started off right in front of the stage in the crowd during the opening bands and was fine. But once Underoath took the stage, I only lasted for two songs before I escaped the flying bodies and pummeling from the fans to try to catch my breath and make my torso cease feeling pain.

As my friend Andrew described seeing me upon my escape, "I wish I would have snapped a photo of you when you came up off the floor at the beginning. It looked like a cartoon version of someone that had just been caught in a tornado, it was great! I'll have that image burned into my head for ever, I was sooo worried for a second and then processed what happened and just immediately burst out laughing."

From then on, I shot from the side and back of the stage where the rest of the friends and family of the band were standing. But they weren't standing there for long. Most of them wound up diving into the crowd from the stage before the show was over! This vantage point allowed me to get shots of the band up close and personal that aren't usually possible at a larger venue. Plus, just due to the nature of the show, I was actually able to get out on the stage and shoot a few short bursts then get out of the way again.

To say it was a crazy night would be an understatement, but it was an absolute blast and one to remember for sure.

This show allowed the band to perform in front of a crowd for the first time since their last tour three years ago and allowed them to get back into that groove again. Now that they've got the playing and energy parts down, time for "tech rehearsals..."