Category Archives: NYC Events

I Know Kung Fu!


New York City is amazing.  You never know what you’ll come across.  I got a call from Stacey on Thursday morning: “There’s a kung fu panda thing happening at Grand Central at 1:30 today!”  That’s about all the info she had.  I looked it up on-line and found very little more.  But it sounded interesting and it was near my office.  So I grabbed my camera and headed over.  What it turned out to be was an event by the Beijing Tourism Committee promoting their new 72-hour visa-free program.  Following far too much dry talk from Chinese dignitaries and the MCs introducing all the dignitaries and selling Beijing, the good stuff started.

I was a bit wary, because it started with a bunch of people in full body panda costumes using “bamboo” staves and nunchucks.  But then it moved into a series of exhibitions by students of the Beijing Sports and Exercise School.  Some of it was familiar from the Shaolin work that my teacher, Fight Master Mike Chin, would show us — Long fist and staff.  I think one of the more amazing sections was a demonstration of Biàn Liǎn or Face-Changing, where the performer came on stage with an elaborate mask and costume.  During his dance, he would change the mask faster than you could perceive.  Amazing!

Sing for Hope 2013 Pianos Gala

Remember back in March when my amazing artist friend Jessi got us all plastered?  Well, tonight there was a gala unveiling the 88 pianos that had been decorated by artists and which will be distributed around the 5 boroughs June 1 – 16 for people to enjoy.  After that, they will be donated to various schools, healthcare facilities and community organizations along with visits from Sing for Hope artists to bring the joy of music to those who might not get the opportunity to experience live performance.

The location was a gutted floor of the old New York Times building.  Just a raw space, but with 88 pianos, lots of uplights on walls and columns and a few well spaced spots on some of the pianos, it felt like a trendy loft!

There was a wide variety of inspiration for the pianos. Most were painted, but some were adorned with feathers, tile work, an octopus or vinyl grass.  Each one had its secrets and its stories.  I’m sure that they will thrill those who come across them during their stay out in the city and certainly those who have the pleasure of receiving one at their school or center.

I tried a couple new things out today.  I tried shooting auto ISO.  I’m not sure… I did like the fact that it managed the ISO for me — and the lighting was so varied, I would have been going nuts riding all three variables (ISO, aperture and shutter speed).  However, I did notice that I wasn’t always happy with how “perfect” it tried to make the scene — it was hard to shoot under or over “well exposed” without the camera fighting me.  So I did, in fact, go back to manual about half way through the night.  I may try it on a theatre shoot in the near future.  It did work well at getting me in the zone ISO-wise.

The other new(ish) exploration was my flash.  Obviously, I never shoot with a flash when I shoot a show and this has turned me into a bit of an ambient light snob.  But this room was very dark in many places and to get the detail of the pianos without too much noise, I broke out my old Speedlite 430 EX II.  The batteries even worked, I was impressed!  I’ve been doing a lot of reading and B&H video watching about flashes lately, so I had some things to try.  I was shooting on camera, but kept the flash angled up or even behind me to cut down on harshness.  I’m not comfortable with it yet, but I’m definitely going to rope S. into a flash aided headshot session soon.

Getting Plastered for Easter!

My friend Jessi Browne-White is a very talented artist — visual and performing.  She was recently selected to be one of the artists to adorn a piano for the Sing for Hope Pianos project.  As part of her vision, she needs body parts… Well, faces and arms, anyway.  So for Easter, she hosted a plastering party!

We sat around the living room enjoying snacks and wine while one by one we were led to the plastering chair!

Jessica Browne-White applies plaster bandages to Tina Mitchell for a piece she’s creating for the Sing for Hope Pianos project.

Thanks to Jessi’s facility with the plaster bandages, it was quick and painless.  Now I want to buy some and try my hand at plastering.  Nothing is safe!

I can’t wait to see the finished product when it arrives somewhere in NYC!

Horse Play

New York is an amazing place for art.  It’s also an amazing place for crowds.

I dropped by Grand Central Terminal to see Nick Cave’s HEARD•NY, a performance art piece of stylized horses parading in Vanderbilt Hall.  I had stopped by Monday morning to see the Soundsuits “at rest” on display in the hall.  I was looking forward to seeing them in motion.

When I showed up today, 15 minutes before the showing, the hall was PACKED.  There were two performance spaces on either side of the central aisle through to the main hall and they were each surrounded by hordes of people.  I got shoved down the side of one of the spaces and wound up about halfway along the space and 4 rows back.  But since everyone was standing, it meant I could see little.  So much for my idea of a nice quiet shoot.

In fact, the only way I could get any images was to go paparazzi style: arm straight up and shooting just about blind! This is the first time I’ve tried shooting this way and the results were… as expected.  I’ve got a couple shots that weren’t bad, but I think I’ll go back much earlier to get a good spot.