Joe Black : Touch of Evil

I do like shooting at the Royal Vauxhall Tavern and I jumped at the chance to shoot there for Joe Black recently. Joe is currently touring with 'Joe Black’s Touch of Evil: A Celebration of Villany in Song' an evening of comedy and songs taken from Disney films and other classics, accompanied on the piano with Friedrich Hollandaise. 

I don't think I had seen Joe Black since the Cabaret Roulette - Bill Murray show so it was good to watch him perform again. I arrived early to bag my usual seat and met with Arran Shurviton. Joe had mentioned the opening of the show would include a mirror which he had asked me to capture and Arran would be on hand to show me the set up. I haven't included the opening in the shot below... if you want to see it go see the show!! Among the Disney tunes there were others from films and theater as well as the creepiest version of a George Fromby song that just works so well!!

I was carrying my new Canon 6d MkII, full frame camera. I wanted a full frame version of my Canon 70d for a while and thought this would be ideal as a replacement. For someone who has used a crop sensor for a few years now the quality difference between a crop sensor and a full frame is incredible! One draw back, my Canon 24-105mm f4 is now exactly that! Where before the crop sensor allowed me to be closer at 38-168mm it feels like I haven't got quite the reach I had before.

I normally cringe when I see a stage bathed in a single colour however I welcomed it this time as the green tinge and smoke drifting around the stage really brought out the 'evil' in Joe's performance.

Joe Black 018.jpg
Joe Black 048.jpg
Joe Black 068.jpg
Joe Black 167.jpg
Joe Black 121.jpg

Joe Black a gin drinking cabaret darling, musical comedy misfit, drag clown and acid tongued ringmaster, find out more at http://www.misterjoeblack.com/

The Apothecary Cabaret - Vol XXVI - Beginning

I was asked to shoot at The Apothecary Cabaret located underneath the Haunt in the heart of West Hackney. I had not shot in that place before so I immediately set about finding internal pictures of the area so I could see before arriving where I could stand without getting in the way.

And as usual I got there about 20 minutes early so after meeting the contact, Poppy, to discuss the shoot then I wandered back up to the bar to sit on a sofa and enjoy an expensive glass of cola. I went through my usual routine of checking the camera and been reset since the last outing and check all SD cards had been cleared. The stage area was dark so I would have to wait until a performer was standing directly in front of the main spot light, even then I was expecting high ISO levels.

The Master of Ceremonies was Driscoll Bleak, a compare I had not seen perform before but had the right mix of vaudeville and insane creepiness to make the number of cabaret virgins in the audience huddle together for protection. It was also his birthday so was forced to sample various objects and had to guess if they were cake or not.. most were not.

Driscoll Bleak - 17.jpg
Cake or not Cake - 13.jpg

As feared the lighting was low so I had to wait for the right moment to capture each performer at the best time. And then there is of course the guest inanimate object that is the bane of any photographer in a live situation. The pillar in the odd position...

I clocked that one as soon as I walked in the room. About two thirds across the stage there is a large pillar, OK i know it is there to make sure we are not covered in screaming drinkers from above as the ground floor collapses on top of us but still, like microphone stands they do tend to get in the way of a performance.

To this end I decided to stand to one side with my back to the bar and take shots from there. I would not be in the way of the paying public and could see the majority of the stage anyway.

After the show I said hello to those I knew of the performers and audience members and also had some of the birthday cake... which made me late to catch my train but that gave me time to look through the shots and start the culling process.

Shot delivered next day as usual...yay me!

 

Burlesque In Underland at The Camden Fringe Festival

I was once more delighted to be asked to shoot for Burlesque In Underland. This time it was at the Hen and Chickens pub in Highbury and Islington. The venue was similar to the Old Red Lion Theatre in Angel. 

I arrived about 15 minutes before curtain up to see where it would be best to sit. I had with me my Canon 24-105mm f4.0 and the Sigma 10-20mm f3.5. While I was up at the back I thought I would be reaching over peoples heads and I may miss the performers feet if I shot from way back there. So I went and sat directly at the front. I decided to switch to the Sigma and utilise the wide angle to get lot of the main stage in the shot... it could get the whole of the stage in fact as you can see from the shot below of the opening number.

Pi the Mime ( as Mercury)

Pi the Mime ( as Mercury)

Normally, using the wide angle you would get distortion, but being this close to the performers there was very little. One consequence of using this lens, it looks like the performers are further away than they actually are. When looking up from time to time it was quite a shock to see them only a couple of feet away! 

Athena Beauvoir

Athena Beauvoir

Pinky T'boo

Pinky T'boo

Jessabelle Thunder

Jessabelle Thunder

Valarie Savage

Valarie Savage

Ella the Great

Ella the Great

Senorita Scarlett

Senorita Scarlett

The cast

The cast

I like a show that is so good that you do not notice the time passing. This hours performance flew by and I was soon off home on the tube checking and marking off keeper and rejects. Glad to say a lot of them were keepers! All were packaged and sent off within my self imposed 24 hour time limit. Hate to keep performers waiting.

Burlesque In Underland : The Queen's Croquet Ground

It sometimes pays off to think of the bigger picture when taking shots. Except this time I wasn't thinking... this was a fortunate occurrence. 

I was asked to shoot for Burlesque In Underland at the Looking Glass Cocktail Club. I arrived just before doors opened and met up with producer and to take my usual seat for the event. With me were my Canon 70d, Canon 550d as backup with lenses 24-104 f4 and the 10-20mm f3.5. 

While people were filtering in to take their seats the host asked if I could move position to accommodate extra visitors. No problem I thought my 24-105 can still.. oh OK, that is now a bit close. I only moved a little way forward but the 24mm end meant I would be closer to the performers than I really needed. The 70d has what is called a 'crop sensor' so when the focal indicator on the lens reads 24mm it is actually an equivalent of 38mm. Not so wide angle.

Lucky I had my wide angle with me then! On the 70d the 10-20mm would actually be 16-32mm which gave me a nice wide angle of view at the 16mm end and enough to have the performer framed nicely at 32mm.

This also had an unexpected and welcome occurrence. When the performer was very close up to me it would give a type of perspective that I would not have got with the 24-105mm. It helped created some interesting fish eye type shots!

Marnie Scarlet

There was no interval this time, the show jumped from one act to the next, which caught me off guard when I noticed I was down to 50 shots remaining on my card and had to quickly swap them out.

The lighting was better but again I had to wait for performers to be in a certain area of the lighting to get a good shot. All shots were delivered well within my self imposed 24 hour time limit. Yay me!

Ella The Great

Flamingo Girls

Coco Nobel

Mysti Vine

Mercury

Kheski Kobler

Lilly Snatchdragon

Bawdsville presents - Other Creatures

Once again I find myself arriving to shoot a show far too early again. Out with the phone.. nearest chicken shop this time please. Ahh there is one close. I was due to shoot for Bawdsville at the Ram Jam Club in Kingston. So munching on chicken I checked my kit for the third time since I left home. It would be most embarrassing turning up at a show with out a camera,  I'm not a good sketch artist!

I met with the host Unruly Scrumptious to have a quick chat about where best to stand. There was also a couple of people who were there to video the show too, so I had a quick chat with them to see where wished to record from. Compared to other venues, this is a more intimate performing area and more darker than I am used to. However there is always a sufficient amount of light in the center area of stage so shots were timed to get the best of each performance.

Pi the Mime

Pi the Mime

Good Ness Gracious

Good Ness Gracious

Ophelie Frenchkiss

Ophelie Frenchkiss

Kimberley OddSocks and Andy Van der Graaf

Kimberley OddSocks and Andy Van der Graaf

Lewis G Burton

Lewis G Burton

Ernesto Sarezale

Ernesto Sarezale

Tuesday Laveau

Tuesday Laveau

Unruly Scrumptious

Unruly Scrumptious

Down the middle of the area was a clear space between the seats where the performers would walk to the stage. I shot along this line as there would be little chance of anyone getting in the way.The usual work duo of the Canon 70d and the Canon 24-105 f4 L lens were with me and helped to capture some great shots. These of course were delivered within 24 hours via a Dropbox link. 

Thanks to Unruly Scrumptions for asking me to shoot!

You can find Bawdsville at https://www.facebook.com/Bawdsville/

 

On Fire Again!

Oh yeah I like shooting fire! I was asked to visit the Fire School again. This time of year the area was lighter so in post I took the decision to drop the blacks down to enhance the fire. This is in stark contrast from my first shoot at the school, you can see them here where the shots were a lot brighter but you can see early attempts to darken some of the shots.

Thanks to Red Sarah for inviting me down and please check out The Fire School at http://www.thefireschool.co.uk/

Click on any photo to see full screen then use arrow keys or swipe to move between shots.

~ Neverworld ~

I had been asked to shoot a metal gig in The Unicorn in Camden. I personally have little knowledge of 'metal' but as with other events I have covered this would be the same as, follow the action and look for facial expressions.

I had to look up Heavy Metal... ok so this was going to be loud. As per usual I looked at Google Images for interior shots of The Unicorn. This showed there was a bar at the front and the stage area was at the back. The area in front of the stage is where the audience would be
standing.

I met my contact at Kings Cross and we traveled to the venue together. On arrival I checked out the area and spoke to the AV guy and asked if there was anywhere he didn't want me to stand. It is always good to check in with others that are working on the show in case there are established house rules you need to be aware of. I was told I could go anywhere so I decided to see how the audience would be arranged then work my way around them.

I checked out the lights and it was a mix of reds a purples. This can be corrected in post so for the first performace from Forged In Black, I waited till the lead singer was central to the stage for the optimum lighting. It was loud but not as loud as I thought it was going to be. So
no need for my ear plugs.

My kit for the evening were the 24-105mm f4 and the 10-20mm f3.5. I bought the wide angle after looking at the interior photos, I thought I would be able to capture the full stage from wherever I would be standing at 10mm and also short zoom to 20mm if I found myself close to the stage. I was there to shoot photos for Neverworld, a British metal band, but I used the time before they started to check out how the shots and stage positions would work.

I was fortunate to see that the light set up changed for Neverworlds performance, it was brighter for a start so shutter speeds would be faster. For the first song I used the 10-20mm lens to capture the full stage set up the the 24-105mm for close ups and performer profiles.

There seemed to be a pattern emerging during the set. It was something I noticed during the previous set with Forged In Black. There seems to be three stances that performers use:

Legs apart with the guitar thrust outwards

Legs apart with the guitar thrust outwards

Legs together, guitar thrust upwards

Legs together, guitar thrust upwards

Combination of both but with more hair!

Combination of both but with more hair!

So once I knew this I could anticipate where the performers would be. The one problem I had was the drummer. At any eye level, either standing or crouching there would either be a cymbal, a fret board or lots of hair in the way. I had to wait and again anticipate when he would hit the cymbal so it would move out the way. He did seem to be enjoying himself immensely up there so I did get some great shots.

The editing consisted of reducing the harsh colour cast from the red and green spotlights, then cropping to bring either the performers or action more central to the shot. I was asked to provide black and white shots too, which in Lightroom is easy by creating virtual copies of all
the shots and changing the initial treatment to Black and White.

All shots were then exported and delivered by Dropbox.

You can find Neverworlds website here at www.neverworldmetal.co.uk.

Frontal Lobotomy

Ok, just come out at Stockwell tube station. Out with the phone, start up Google maps and locate the Cavendish Arms. Aha.. ok now find the nearest fish and chip shop.. aha it's two roads away from the CA. Fantastic! 

And that is how I usually start my evening when attending a shoot. I nearly always arrive far to early and decided to get something to eat first.

When asked to shoot somewhere new I always check out the venue before arrival to gauge which lens I need to bring with me. This was the case when I was asked to take shots for Jeu Jeu La Foille in the Cavendish Arms for her one woman show, Frontal Lobotomy. 

I had never shot at the Cavendish Arms before so I ran a quick Google search. When asked to shoot somewhere new I always check out the venue before arrival to gauge which lens I need to bring with me. This was the case when I was asked to take shots for Jeu Jeu La Foille in the Cavendish Arms for her one woman show, Frontal Lobotomy.  

The back room did seem quite large so to be sure I took along Sigmas 24-104mm and 70-200mm. Once I got there it dawned on me that I would not need the 70-200mm as the room was quite small. The shot I saw must have been taken with a wide angle lens. I met Miss LaFoille and had a quick chat about the show, if there were to beany audience interaction and where or where not I was allowed to roam.

I ran a quick test with the two lenses, direct in front and from both sides of the room suggested that the 24-105mm would be perfect. If I used the 70-200mm most of the shots would have been too close. The show wasn't called Frontal Photography!

During the show I noticed that the lighting was consistant from the back to the front of the stage. So taking note of the settings from the previous shots I went full manual control for one of those rare times that I can to ensure consistency across the shots. This means less time in post having to balance one shot from another.

The show was entertaining and at one audience member had the opportunity to be lobotomized.

Please visit Jue Jue La Foille website at: http://www.jeujeulafoille.com/ and Twitter at: https://twitter.com/JeuJeulaFoille

Underland and older Cams...

Evening,

I was asked to shoot at the Looking Glass Cocktail Club in Shoreditch for the Burlesque in Underland show 'Twisted Fairy Tale Burlesque'. I had shot there a few weeks previously and one thing I had noticed. The lack of light. I nearly didn't notice the lack of light due to it being so dark in there.

My problem was that they only two lenses f2,8 and below and my Sigma 70-200mm f2.8 and my canon 50mm f1.8. My Canon 70d is a crop sensor lens so 70mm is actually 112mm. I was sitting in the front row so my shots would have been of nostrils... if I had zoomed to 200mm (320mm) I could have told you what the performer had for lunch.

So I settled on taking my Canon 24-105mm f4 L on the 70d and also bring the 550d out of retirement to use the Sigma 10-20mm f3.5. This would give me a much broader range from where I knew I would be sitting.

Canon 70d 65mm f4 24-70 L 1/100 sec

The shot above was taken with the 70d. I waited till the compare, Mercury, was standing in the sweet spot of light so my shutter speed jumped to 1/100sec.

Canon 550d f3.5 1/30sec

Shooting with the 10-20mm f3.5 was easier. Even though the lens does not have Image Stabilisation, I just had to make sure the shutter speed was 1/30 or more to ensure a sharp shot. The shot above was actually two shots taken with the wide angle and stitched in Lightroom.

Who am I kidding... if I can shoot in the Shadow Lounge I can shoot anywhere!!

 

The Rubyyy Jones Awards

When I first started photography I watched a lot of YouTube videos from other photographers and one piece of advice stuck in my mind. If you would like offer your services to shoot at an event, just ask. So when I saw an event for the Rubyyy Jones Awards I sent a message introducing myself with a link to my website to show off my work. As luck would have it the show needed a photographer! Yay me!

The show was hosted at the Royal Vauxhall Tavern where I had shot many times before with Cabaret Roulette so this would be the first time without the familiar faces. I didn't have to worry though, I met Rubyyy and we talked for a while about the show, where I had shot before and got on well.

I had my usual spot in the middle of the room and I managed to move back and fourth around the room for when the singers were static on stage. 

Hope to shoot for you again Rubyyy!

Burlesque in Underland - London Horror Festival

I was invited to shoot for Burlesque in Underland for the London Horror Festival at the Old Red Lion Theater for a couple of nights. The room was upstairs at the back of the pub, small dark but the lighting was great!

I settled on the middle row so I had a clear view of the floor and performers. I was using my 70d with the 24-105mm f4 again as this seems to be my go to combination these days. I had brought along my 10-20mm f3.5 in case I was positioned near the front but with that I would have got most of the audience and my ears in the shot too.

Both events kicked of with each starting performer dying. The compare arrived for the first one and was instrumental in killing off the second opening performer the next night. You can see that happening in the Psycho homage below.

The stage management were the three bears. There job was to clean up and annoy the compare. There were dancers, an opera singer, a mime, witches, a grinning cat and a very scary rabbit. Something you don't normally find in a pub...

Cheers!

Cabaret Roulette

I am very glad to say that I have a long standing relationship with the company of Cabaret Roulette lead by the exquisite Miss Vivacity Bliss.

I first shot for Cabaret Roulette as a guest for the Sci-Fi show at Madam Jo Jo's and for their 1st Birthday Review. This was the show I unleashed the Sigma 70-200mm and it was well worth the expense!

After the closure of Madam Jo Jo's the company has moved to the Royal Vauxhall Tavern where they have recently completed their third years performances.

The gallery below is fairly extensive and will continue to grow but I believe that it shows the best aspects of this fantastic show.

I have shot or guested at the following shows:

Addiction, Bill Murray, Corruption, First Birthday Revue, Ghost Stories, Le Chien Noir 2016, Metamorphosis, Myths and Legends, Nightmare, Power, Sci Fi, Super Heroes, Books, Dear Diary, Evolution, Revenge.

 


The Fire School

A long while back I attended a talk with Benjamin von Wong whom, during this talk suggested photographing a mix of what you like. His suggestion was babies and explosions. I got to photograph one of them when I attended the Fire School in East Ham. Not an exploding baby as some of you would have expected of me but more like the combustible type. Balls of fire.

I total get where the von Wong is coming from when he said he liked photographing fire because now I too am hooked. Arriving at the fire school I met up with Red Sarah, the headmistress. I had previously met and photographed her performances at the Royal Vauxhall Tavern at Cabaret Roulette and was invited down to take shots of her students.

The Fire School is located in a warehouse with seating at one end and the large stage area in front. I positioned myself at the back seating so I was looking down from behind the audience. Using my 24-104 f4 this gave me clear view of the area with enough zoom to get in close to the performers where needed. As this was my first time here I also brought along the Sigma 70-200mm f2.8 strapped to my Canon 550d. Using that lens meant I was very close at 70mm and practically up the performers nose at 200mm. For the majority I stuck with the 24-105.

My experience shooting cabaret and burlesque paid off here as I immediately went back to way of keeping both eyes open, one through the viewfinder the other on the movement's of the performer. This way I could look out at the periphery and watch and anticipate when action shots would occur.

The evening was to showcase the creative work of the Fire School, some of them for the very first time, and some from the professional group. A great mix of fire, dance, burlesque, comedy and special effects.

I enjoyed this event immensely, not only to shoot live performers but to also watch massive fireballs exploding in front of you too! Really glad I caught a number of them.

I now officially state I like photographing fire! Thanks to Red Sarah for inviting me down and please check out The Fire School at http://www.thefireschool.co.uk/


Miss Odelias Opium Den

I shot Miss Odelias Opium Den very early on in my photography work. This was at The Distillers pub in Hammersmith.

I remember it was a very snowy February evening and I was worried about the state of the local transport managing to get me home.

At this stage I was using my Canon 550d and Canon 55-250mm lens. Despite it being considered a kit lens I didn't know any better at the time.

That evening was the first time I met Violet Blaze, and my ribs will not let me forget it!

House of Burlesque

I was first introduced to shooting Burlesque and Cabaret when I was invited to Madam Jo Jo's by the beautiful Miss Tempest Rose.

It was the first time at Madam Jo Jo's as well, I had noidea what to expect! That night taught me a lot about the perils of shooting in low light conditions.

I was shooting a heat of Burlesque Idol and was invited back to to shoot the Final in 2012.

Since then I have shot for Miss Rose and the House of Burlesque at the Century Club, the Electric Carousel and the Rolling Stock bar.

The Original Street Dancers

Th Effra Social Club in Brixton played host to the Original Street Dancers.

The stage lighting showed me that in some cases Iwould have to wait for a performer to be in a certain place to get a balanced shot. Otherwise they would be half in shadow and half in light.

This was the last time I would use the Canon 55-250mm lens as soon after I purchased the Sigma 70-200mm f2.8.

Nell Gwynn's History Laid Bare

Orange Faced Puppet

I managed to catch up with Ginger Blush at her one woman show, Nell Gwynn's History Laid Bare in Croyden. I had not been to Croyden before so as normal I made travel plans that meant I was there a full 30 minutes early. Better to be early than late though.

The very helpful Google Maps showed me where the Spread Eagle pub was in relation to the nearest fast food outlet. There are times I have found I will be concentrating on the event, camera settings and meeting performers that I forget to eat until after. Sometimes this means eating very late when I get home. So this time I eviscerated two cheese burgers before walking to the pub.

Arriving at the location I introduced myself to the promoter and was taken upstairs to meet Miss Blush, who was in a semi state of undress! A quick zip later and we were in the theatre area discussing where I could stand. As a rule I always scout an area out by using Google Images before attending. In this case I had Googled 'Spread Eagle pub interior theatre images' and saw that there would be rows of seats with a central isle.

Whenever possible I do like to talk to the performers about the show and ask if there is anything in particular that they want me to capture. I also like to take back stage shots of them getting ready. The shot to the right was taken close to start of the show.

During the performance I choose to stand next to the Audio/Visual area which would mean I would be behind the audience. I am Lensintheface by name not in nature! I try to be face on if I can as the performer is generally centre stage most of the time projecting forwards so I would get some great facial and action shots. OK I would get the odd audience head or two in the way but that's live theatre for you and I feel does add to the photos.

The lighting was dark to medium brightness but Miss Blush did tend to stick to the centre of the stage where the light was more favourable. I was using my Canon 70d with the Canon 24-105 f4 L lens a combination that is working perfectly.

This particular performance, was funny and informative. I found myself at times watching, and listening to the narrative quite a lot. This did not detract from the amount of good photos I managed to capture though. It is good to watch and listen to the performance as you can anticipate the performers next move and capture shots you would otherwise miss.

One such shot was of the orange faced puppet mentioned above. At this stage, the history lesson had moved on to where Nell Gwynn became a mistress of Charles II. I think this is one of the most surreal photos I have taken on a stage. This could be the stuff of nightmares for some but for me the sight of a Charles II puppet with an orange tennis ball for a face singing along to the sound of Donna Summers 'I feel love' had me in stitches.


Baby Lame's Shit Show

I was contacted by a performer called Baby Lame to shoot his burlesque show at the Glory pub in Haggerston, North London. I accepted the job and immediately used Google Image search to check out the venue. I do this every time for a new venue to scope out the area before attending.

I hopped on to the East London line I arrived at the Glory with 30 minute spare till show time. Baby Lame and a couple of other performers were rehearsing the opening act. After which we had a quick chat about where I could shoot and I was given a running order of the performers. I like to keep hold of this as I can then add names of the performers to their respective photos in Lightroom later.

This show was an eye opener!

Looking around the room I decided not to stay near the bar as that is normally crowded, so I stuck more around the left hand side near the audio visual unit and the centre between the two pillars.

After the show, on the way home I started culling shots in camera. The screen in small but I can easily see if any of the shots have blurred limbs or the composition is off. All shots were completed and delivered the next day.

The Folly Mixtures

I have had the great fortune to shoot for the Folly Mixtures on a number of occasions now, whether from their own performances or as guests in other shows.

I believe the shots taken here were with the Canon 70-200mm F2.8 lens. I needed the reach!

Shows have been at Madam Jo Jo's and at the Hippodrome Casino in Leicester Square.

http://www.thefollymixtures.co.uk/

Cabaret Tease

Cabaret Tease

Based in the Landor Theatre in Clapham, this was one of the hardest show I had to shoot. I had my 24-70mm f4 with me which was more than adequate for wide angle shots and close ups of the performers. The problem was the stage area was very dark and a lot of stage smoke was used.

However as you can see both the lens and the Canon 70d pulled off some fantastic shots.

Cabaret Tease featured some of the finest talents from the London Burlesque School as well as an extraordinary and original performances from the professional skating stars of Burlesque On Ice.

http://cabarettease.com/