Happy Holla Days from the City

A little Christmas spirit in San Francisco… on a double decker tour bus!

I rarely do touristy things in San Francisco since I grew up around here, but this was a great first experience that was blended in with some nostalgia. From the Macy’s in union square (although this year was filled with a lot of distracting messy views of construction around) to the Embarcadero Building Center Lights to the views from Treasure Island, it only needed some white snow to top it off!


SIX more days until Christmas. Continue on with the non-stop Christmas music, Christmas light shows, and bottomless hot chocolate.

Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays Holla Days, and Happy New Year!

Shot with: 50mm 1.8

Happy Holla Days from the City

Firsts: Red Lights, Haze, and Earplugs

Last week, I attended my first Indie Folk concert, AND I got to dip my toes in concert photography!

My brotha Miguel (bassist for @BeforetheBrave) hooked it up with the opportunity to shoot their concert in the city, and they even got me an ultra exclusive, all-access press pass! Well, there wasn’t an actual press pass that I got to wear at the venue, BUT I did have a press pass next to my name on the list so I guess it was unofficially official, only people around me couldn’t see it. One day, I will get to wear a press pass somewhere. One day. (Coachella 2020 I’m coming for you)

Here are some of my favorites:

Concert photography is a whole new playground with the same set of rules.

Here are a few quick points from my experience:

  • Lighting at concert venues can be REDiculous
  • Put in ear plug, your eardrums will thank you later
  • Processing in black and white is more addicting than ice cream

The inconsistent lighting was what made it complicated, but it was also what made the most unique shots. I learned beforehand that it was important to anticipate lighting so I tried to anticipate the lighting throughout the concert, but it changed patterns every few seconds, and from song to song as well so I couldn’t anticipate (I’m blaming the lighting guy lol). I had to hop on an angle as quickly as possible once I saw cool lighting that I liked, like an ultralight beam from above or backlit subjects. The haze was also really cool because it gave the lighting a more visible effect, and it gave a faded, foggy appearance.

Then, there’s the red light, which is the most irritating color of light ever. I noticed it mostly in the highlights during post. I forgot the sensor is much more sensitive to the red and blue light because it only detects red, blue, and green, so you have to really underexpose to make sure the highlights aren’t completely blown out when there is so much red light on the skin. Often, the light wasn’t on the face either, but it was shining on the outline of the head or body. I was so tempted to make all my shots black and white because it fixed all the coloring/lighting issues (except for blown out highlights), and I loved playing with the shadows and contrast for black and white.

Fortunately, I had a full frame camera and a fast lens because concert photography is generally dark so I was able to crank up the ISO before images got really grainy. I generally shot manual around 1/200 at f/1.8-2.0 and ISO 1600, but I’d probably go higher in shutter speed for the next time depending on the stage lighting.

These are the areas I want to really really really pay more attention to for the next time:

  • Focusing
  • Movement and action
  • Underexpose
  • Facial expressions

Finally, I just wanna say this was SUPER fun (so shouts out to Miguel and Before the Brave for the awesome awesome opportunity). I was definitely nervous since I’ve never even attended an Indie Folk concert, and here I was taking pictures at one. I definitely loved the challenge of finding shots in a very unfamiliar and unpredictable environment, and all that while listening to some really good music.

Check them out if you like Indie Folk and don’t like overplayed mainstream radio music!


Madi Sipes & the Painted Blue – @madisipesmusic

The Singing Limbs – @thesinginglimbs

Before the Brave – @beforethebrave, check them out on Spotify (I highly recommend their track Poet’s Prison and Hand Holding is Encouraged 🙂 )

Venue: Rickshaw Stop

Shot with: 50mm 1.8, 80-200mm 2.8

Firsts: Red Lights, Haze, and Earplugs

Firsts: Mount Tamalpais

Nature’s got curves, and of all the peaks in the West Coast, Tamalpais has the curviest of curves if you know what I’m sayin’… 😉

I still can’t believe that in the twenty-two years of my life in the Bay Area, I had never hiked Mount Tamalpais, even though it is a semi-short sixty minute drive from my home (which feels like thirty if you’re driving with some of your funnest friends). Either that, or I was just too young to remember if my parents ever took me there. We will just say that this is the first time I have consciously, on my own will, hiked up the luscious, green hills of Mount Tam. I got to venture up there with my bro Dakota last Friday on a clear, spring day to get away from the city for a few hours.

If you hadn’t noticed yet, I ordered the set by daylight, from the ascent up Mt. Tam in the afternoon sunlight to the peak of golden hour, and then to the end of the descent back down at sunset so you can visually hike along with us. 🙂

Typically, when I see pictures of Mt. Tam on Instagram or elsewhere, I think of the rolling hills and fog and clouds through the hills and trees, but I wanted to see if I could grab something different since it was such a clear day. Dakota made that easy because I was always able to use him as the subject and capture his experience as well as mine together. Thanks Dakota.

I’m definitely bringing a date up here one day, and then I’m gonna blog about it here… 😛

Shot with: 50mm 1.8

Firsts: Mount Tamalpais