All About That Bass

Music Festivals offer photographers an increased level of access to shoot musicians. However, it is often in less than ideal locations, with cluttered stages and backgrounds. One solution to this is to use a long lens, focus on closeups of one or two musicians at a time, and to use a shallow depth of focus; all of which will assist in reducing the impact of the clutter. Another option is to shoot up, from just in front to the stage, to avoid much of the stage gear.


This bass player, at the American Folk Festival, was grooving to his own beat. Isolating him from the band focused on that beat, and shooting from below offered a unique angle as well as clutter reduction. The Prada sunglasses were a fringe benefit.

C. David Tobie


Chasing the High Contrast Image

High contrast images are found not made. That is to say, the best of them are not high contrast due to heavy handed image editing, but rather because the content was high contrast when shot. While Ansel Adam’s Zone System may insist that we need components in our images at each of the ten zones between black and white, that should not be construed to mean that all ten zones need to be heavily represented.

The image above is a clear example of a high contrast image, and the drama that such a shot can produce. The only light source in the image was the marquis lighting at the front of the hotel, with the rest of the building’s facade in total darkness, but for a tiny gleam through the curtain above, that shows that the hotel is indeed there. And the backlit black London Cab is entirely dark, but for the narrow reflections of the marquis lighting defining its hood, windscreen, and roof.

The one last element adding to the story this image tells is the pose of the cab driver; the frame where his head is bowing towards his up-stretched hand provided the most dramatic image of the lot. The result is a mysterious Noir image, that sticks in the viewer’s mind. And making a lasting impression on the viewer is the effect a photographer most wants.

Documenting Tributes to Deposed Dictators

Deposed dictators, especially those who caused much bloodshed and hardship for their people, are typically erased from the civic space. Their statues are removed, their names eliminated from buildings and road signs, and their brass plaques melted for scrap.

Because of this, it is particularly interesting to document the remnants that escaped destruction. Mussolini is no exception. I have seen a Mussolini quote still displayed, carved in stone in the north of Italy, despite the mass deportation of the local German speaking residents during the Fascist era. And here, in a tiny remote village of Southern Tuscany, I was surprised to see another quote attributed to him still in evidence.

Mussolini Quote-1

The quote itself is quite harmless, there is no heavy propaganda; it could be made into one of those inspirational posters seen in offices. But one wonders if it was whitewashed after the war, and has become visible again with time, or if the missing corner with Mussolini’s name was removed by intent, or by age. However, this fresco makes an interesting photo subject, and while I have never found a suitable use for such an image, I keep it in my library, awaiting the need.

C. David Tobie