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Monday, June 13, 2011

Just Migrated to Wordpress

Hi everyone. I just moved my blogspot to wordpress. I hope this wont affect the way you view my site. A fresh beginning on a whole new level of experience. Thank you for joining me here on blogspot. 25,780 hits (within 7 months) while I'm typing this piece I don't know If it's a good thing or not but thanks anyways for the support. Cheers!

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Friday, June 10, 2011

Cruel Hand - 100% Hardcore

Hardcore punk with crossover trash is is the thing of my favorite bands like Cro-Mags, Dirty Rotten Imbeciles (DRI) and Suicidal Tendencies (okay I know you guys will think I'm freakin' oldschool) but Cruel Hand is top on my favorite list. Songs like "Dead Weight" makes you wanna stomp your feet until the ground breaks and the song "Under The Ice" every body screams "Get up!!!" - youth crew style. Few songs from the new album "Lock & Key" unleashed new inspiration to all hardcore fans who mosh, tumble and slammed until *Scape Lab is just a pile of rubble - kidding just a figure of speech. Both front-man Chris of Cruel Hand and Kurt of Straight Forward have something in common - both have Filipino mums - what are the chances of that? Did the promoters knew? Nah it's just probably coincidence. I'm always proud to see Pinoys making a difference specially on the hardcore scene.

"Cruel Hand"
Vocals - Chris
Guitar - Nate
Guitar - Sam
Bass - Seger 
Drums - Derek

Opening Act

June 8, 2011 - Seen familiar faces on the crowd from the past few hardcore gigs. It's a week night so I expected not a lot of crowd but in my surprise the venue is almost filled up with raging hardcore fans and bands trying to get a piece of hardcore fix. The show was opened by local favorite Straight Forward brutalizing everyone in the crowd with powerful vocals and lyrics preached by Kurt a half Filipino, half Italian Singaporean and backing him up the symphony of destruction made by musical talents - Nerd on bass, Danila & Fhamy on guitar and beat maker Naem. They look like regural dudes but they are freakin' brutal. As usual it was a great performance. For exif info of the photos visit my flickr photostream.

"Straight Forward - Kurt doing his thing."



"Fhamy & Nerd"


The "Maine" Course - Hardcore Photography

I just made a joke about the title - yes they are from Portland Maine. Who would ever thought that Cruel Hand will ever come to Singapore? The guys from ECHO did a great job in bringing them here. After Straight Forward the crowd went outside to catch some air or just probably chill while Cruel Hand do their sound check. A big growl got our attention that made us run inside *Scape Lab. The chaos has started!!! 

Here are few photos I manage to shoot. I can say the lighting is descent enough to get good quality shots. The place is large enough for me to maneuver around the stage (seems bigger than Home Club). All photos were taken with Nikon D700, Nikon 16-35mm F4G VR II and Nikon  70-200mm F2.8G VR II. All exposure settings in manual mode.

"Engaged with the Crowd"
A wide angle shot of the band with Chris fully engaged with the crowd as they sing along with Cruel Hand. 
Lens used - Nikon 16-35mm F4G VR II.

Facial expression is always important. It give life to every performance.
Lens used - Nikon 16-35mm F4G VR II.

"Up Close and Personal"
A wide tight shots gives impact to the subject. Use a wide angle lens and shoot as close as possible.
Lens used - Nikon 16-35mm F4G VR II.

"The Big Head-bang"
Love to shoot the actual swing of the hair. The viewer will feel the action same thing as you experience it. Lens used - Nikon 16-35mm F4G VR II.

"Feel the Funk"
Capturing the bassist (Seger) feeling the groove of the bass-line.
Lens used - Nikon 16-35mm F4G VR II.

"Busy Beat"
I always have trouble shooting any drummer with  the right angle but I had no problem shooting Derek on this shot. Lens used - Nikon 70-200mm F2.8G VR II.

"Emotions of Pain"
Emotion is important in every shot. See how the crowd looked in awe at Chris while he delivers the lyrics to them. Lens used - Nikon 70-200mm F2.8G VR II.

"Tight Note"
Always nice to capture a tight shot with the lead guitarist shredding all the way.
Nikon 70-200mm F2.8G VR II.

"As High As You Can Get"
Never miss the the jump shot. Cha-ching!!!
Lens used - Nikon 16-35mm F4G VR II.

"Hardcore Crew"
The crowd is one of the most important element of a successful concert/gig. Seeing them getting involve in the action is an opportunity for a good concert shot. Nikon 16-35mm F4G VR II.

"The HxC Fans"
It's always fun to have group shots. Fans are very critical 'coz they are the ones who'll be looking at the photos. Much props to this fellas after hard work or hard studying at school still manage to go to 
Cruel Hand show. Lend used - Nikon 16-35mm F4G VR II.

Note: To view complete series of photos visit my flickr photostream. Special thanks for Echo Productions for bringing Cruel Hand in Singapore and to all the hardcore guys and gals who came to the show - you guys are awesome! 
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Thursday, June 2, 2011

Strobing & BMX Flatland

When we look at magazines like Cream, BMX Plus, Ride BMX, etc. most of the riding photos specially the interesting ones were shoot with strobes. I my case I don't own strobes so I use speedlights  as an alternative. Basically influence by Joe Macnally and Chase Jarvis both Nikon users, not that I like them 'coz they both use Nikon but because of their shooting style. They incorporate strobes on most of their works. BMX photographers like Yasuyuki Takeo a.k.a Green-G (BMX Plus) and Fat Tony (Ride BMX) are my personal favorites. It gives a lot of impact to the subject if you isolate the subject in any way possible. In some situation we use "bokeh" to isolate the subject from the background or foreground, Some cases panning is suitable specially for any types of sports racing, lastly and the most interesting of all (for me) is strobing. Some call it painting with light or light bending - derived from the animated series Avatar were light is considered as an element that produces power but light is actually not included on the elementals it's just cool to call it that way so if you do strobing you are a "light bender".

The Set-Up

I use a basic lighting set-up - 2 speedlights a Nikon SB-900 and Nikon SB-600 and a light stand for each. On my sample photos the the speedlight where place face-to-face with a distance of almost 4-6 meters away from each other. The center will be the subject's playground. You might wanna move around the subject to get the right angle of shot. See the diagram below.

Speedlight setting may vary depending on the situation but in my case I used manual mode 1/16 power on both flash, shutter speed 1/250 (max sync), lens used Nikon 16-35mm F4G VR II @ 16mm F4. Both speedlights were triggered by Phottix Strato 4-in-1. This strobing style was used by Yasuyuki when he visited  Singapore for a promo shoot with York Uno (Ares Bykes Japan). I was new in photography on that time. I still use this technique on most of my flatland shots but the speedlight and camera settings were based my own liking and not based on a fix setting use buy a particular photographer. 

The Photos

Timing is crucial on BMX photography, I guess on almost any kind of photography but here it's the main key. Getting the right angle and facial expression will make it more dynamic. Try different approach on your shots. My favorite is the worm's eye view - although this is a bit tricky 'coz your not looking on the view finder and basically you're just guessing if your faming is correct or not. Eventually you'll get the hang of it.


"Bunny Hop - Tail Whip"


"Crack Packer"

Final Words

This kind of BMX flatland photography is only applicable on controlled situations. If you're on an actual BMX competition it's better not to use strobes, better if you shoot discreetly without flash for it may affect the performance of the rider. If you really want to shoot a rider you should ask permission first, you don't just shoot someone in the face while doing warm-ups or routines 'coz it's very irritating and rude. Riders worked hard in perfecting their tricks it's better to give them credit every time you're publishing their photo(s). Most of them rides for a living so treat them as you treat a model with shooting and publishing rights. Some of them will just go for it for fun but some are not really comfortable with it so do your homework first might as well know a little background on the rider what company he is riding for and the purpose of the shoot.

Notes: To view the whole set visit my flickr photostream. Thanks to Charleston and Ordep for performing few tricks on this BMX flatland session. Happy viewing. Cheers!
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Thursday, May 26, 2011

A Strength Within - Live & Raw

A lot of people think that hardcore is dead sadly the ones who started the scene thought so (You know who you are) but they're all wrong. Sprouting from Belgium the northernmost part of Gaul (somewhere in Europe) a band named "A Strength Within" possesses raw hardcore sound the same sound of the hardcore bands we've love from Agnostic Front, Strife, Madball, Earth Crisis, Ratos de Parao, Cro-Mags and more (a lot to mention). A lot of bands now a days change their sound to get into the band wagon. From Hardcore to Post-hardcore to even Metalcore. Why the sudden change of musical style? It's all about demographics baby! It's where the money's at. There is nothing wrong with that (there's always room for progress) it's just a brave move to all aspiring hardcore bands out there to join the hardcore movement were money is out of the question 'coz their ain't no money in hardcore.

"A Strength Within"
Mike Nijs - Vocals
Kevin Nijs - Guitar
Yves Wils -Bass
Tom Overloop - Drums

This is pure D-I-Y no bull brotherhood. You wanna make it to the top you have to work from scratch no major label backing you up. You'll be your own manager, you'll do the merch, the sound checks, the bookings and you have to do your own advertising. It does'nt matter how many kids come to the show as long as they give their ALL - that's the true essence of hardcore. Hardcore is all about brotherhood (I have your back you got mine attitude), meeting new friends, solidifying the bonds of people with common views and perspective in life. Enough about the preaching "A Strength Within" is pure hardcore energy. Joining them are local acts like Obscure, Straight Forward, Out for Blood, Realize and Mouthful of Air. All are equally brutal in their own respective ways. Props goes to Reconstrux Bookings for making this brutality possible and for giving me the honor to cover the gig. Shout out to Ian Soliva, Rico Desengano and few other Pinoys in the crowd.

Q & A with Mike Nijs

Before the show I had the chance to talk to ASW frontman  Mike Nijs.

Kris: How do think of the weather in Singapore?
Mike: It's fine but we are not use to this kind of weather although we've been to Bangkok before we're still not use to it. We reach the air port with thick coats so we have to remove it mediately or else will melt. (laugh).

Kris: How's the HxC scene in Bangkok?
Mike: It's crazy! (laugh)

Kris: What are your expectations in the Singapore hardcore scene?
Mike: No expectations at all. We rather play for 5 people  who's into hardcore than 200 people doing nothing just standing and drinking beer.

Kris: How's the HxC scene in Belgium?
Mike: Now kids in Belgium are more into the mainstream hardcore the ones with big production and big names like Madball and Agnostic Front. People are getting less interested. Which is very sad.

Kris: Bands now a days tend to change their music style for marketing purposes. Did you ever play any kind of music aside from hardcore?
Mike: No we didn't play any kind of music aside from hardcore and we are not planning to change it.

Kris: When your next destination after this?
Mike: We'll be playing 3 shows in Malaysia and another 3 at Indonesia.

Kris: Are you planning to drop by in Philippines? The hardcore scene there is pretty much as big and crazy as Thailand.
Mike: We love to go there but not on this tour. Hopefully next year. On this tour we are loosing money but we don't care. It's all about the HxC scene.

Kris: What band(s) are your major influences?
Mike:  Cruel Hand, No Turning Back, 50 Lions, No Warning

Kris: What do you think of the Singapore HxC scene?
Mike: When I think about lion city, I think of a very small but dedicated HxC scene. I spoke with a lot of people who share the same ideals like we have. Unity, respect and dedication. So they are all in for the right reason. We as a band we're 10,000kms from home but still felt so welcome. So we will definitely come back in the near future to support lion city HxC.

Kris: Any massage you what to give for aspiring hardcore bands.
Mike: HxC is more than music. It's a way of life, a mindset. Decisions you have to make in daily live are sometimes hard. But if you follow your own ideals and let nobody ever hold you down, you can overcome and achieve anything. Do your own thing.

Live & Raw

Here are few photos from the live performance of "A Strength Within". The stage lighting at Home Club is not good but also not that bad (stop complaining just shoot). From ISO 2600 - 3500 I've manage to have tolerable noise. Some how the photos are a bit warm but need not to worry a simple tweaks from Lightroom did the trick. Basically all in manual setting except for the focus of course. My aperture runs between F2.8-4 depending on the lens I use but I always tend to go for the widest aperture possible.

It's always good to start on some inanimate objects specially any indication of the bands identity which is a sticker on this scene. Lens used Nikon 16-35mm F4G VR II @ 16mm F4. You must think I'm crazy using this lens on the field... well that's what I've though of Nikon when they said the Nikon D700 can handle noise perfectly up to ISO 6400. Maybe all Nikon users are crazy. (evil laugh) It just happen that I'm using Nikon gears but any brand will do for me (seriously). 

Action starts with Mike Nijs roaring his words out. Lens used Nikon 16-35mm F4G VR II @ 35mm F4.

A good transition from regular straight forward shots to a much wider and closer approach. Seems like the viewer will feel the same action I felt. Lens used Nikon 16-35mm F4G VR II @ 16mm F4.

Worm's eye view - never get tired of it. Always works on this kind of photography. Lens used Nikon 16-35mm F4G VR II @ 16mm F4.

Another gear shot. Never fails. Ooooh love that "boke-licious". Lens used Nikon 70-200mm F2.8G VR II @ 200mm F2.8.

Tom Overloop the beat maker. Make sure you don't forget to shoot the drummer. He's the heart of the band, he put the beat into the music. Lens used Nikon 70-200mm F2.8G VR II @ 70mm F2.8. 

Crowd shots with frontman always works. Lens used Nikon 16-35mm F4G VR II @ 16mm F4.

Groove maker Yves Wils doing his thing. Making sure everything is in tune. Lens used Nikon 70-200mm F2.8G VR II @ 70mm F2.8.

Kevin Nijs on the foreground doing his brutal riffs. Wide over-head shots a good way to show the whole band in action. Lens used Nikon 16-35mm F4G VR II @ 16mm F4.

Final Notes

Generally speaking - A lot people may mixed up heavy metal and hardcore but discipline, way of life and views are very different but I can't blame them, the media put a lot of BS on magazines, TV shows and internet on how music is labeled. Last time music is the way we express our feelings and emotions now it's all about branding and corporate image. They took away the fun on almost everything resulting a high price on merchs, concert tickets and albums. Thank God for "open source" we can still have access on almost everything.

You can view the complete set on my flickr photostream. All photos taken with Nikon D700, Nikon 70-200mm F2.8G VR II and Nikon 16-35mm F4G VR II. I use my Think Tank Retrospective 30 for easy access on my gears. So far the best bag I've used on concert photography. Happy viewing. Cheers!
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Friday, May 6, 2011

Concert Photography - Switchfoot Live in Singapore 2011


I've been waiting for them to perform here in SG and I wouldn't miss to cover their live performance. I was blessed to take part on this wondrous event and I still feel the Switcfoot fever until now. Switchfoot has always been an inspiration for me, their music uplifting my morale in times that I'm very down. I've always been a fan of X-tian rock/metal music namely Relient K, Pax 217, Pillar, POD, Thousand Foot Krutch, Superchic[K], Sanctus Real and many more. It's always good take a break from my usual genre of music which is hardcore-punk and metalcore but it's all good, music is music and it's for everyone to share regardless of religion and genre. Although Switchfoot doesn't claim that they're a X-tian rock band, their music is somewhat related to it - lyrics of up-lifting ones morale, giving hope or just plain chillin' on a California breeze are the messages they bring to all the listeners. X-tian rock or not they are still one of the best acts in town and it's a bummer to missed them perform.

Jon Foreman - Vocals, Guitar
Jerome Fontamillas - Keayboard, Guitar,
Tim Foreman - Bass
Drew Shirley - Guitar
Chad Butler - Drums

The Venue

One major preparation I did is knowing the venue. Like in all mission it's better to know the vantage point of the terrain were I can pin point the the spots where I can move around and do my thing. The venue is an auditorium (with seats) that can cater 1400 people not including the crew and artists. Lighting is okay I've experience worst but it's not about  that it's always anticipation of events and things to come (like Todd and Jared always say- love these guys). Must keep up with the artists jumping and running around. Don't forget the jump shot - it's the winning shot.

"Suntec City Rock Auditorioum"

What to Expect

Most of the times photographers are treated as opportunist which is basically true (hehe) we tend to grab opportunities and sometime push ourselves to get even more - What I'm trying to say is sometimes we're are not treated well on events specially the security but on this case the security is my friend and it's just one guy that thinks photographers are sharks that waits and go for the kill - the band manager. He is such a hardball he send us out during rehearsals but that's expected because it's part of their job nothing personal. I'm also doing what I'm instructed to do by the production manager. So as an advice for aspiring concert photographers out there be more enthusiastic and smiling doesn't hurt right so give smiles to everyone specially the security and crew that's one ticket for acquiring allies on the event an advantage you will definitely need. To summarize things be more friendly.

The Calling of Levi and The Great Spy Experiment

There are two front acts before Switchfoot's main show and all of them are very good. The calling of Levi and The Great Spy Experiment both are great on what they do. The Calling of Levi gave a very energetic performance with their uplifting upbeat tunes combined with hard guitar riffs that's soothing to my eardrums. These guys from Australia is must hear and must see on their live shows. The Great Spy Experiment also known as TGSE for fans are equally energetic with more atmospheric sounds and new-wave(ish) feel which is a plus points for me. These Singapore local band is one of the best acts I've seen aside from Stomping Ground (which is totally a different genre of music).

" The Calling of Levi"

Kieran Burne: "Sick Air"

"The Great Spy Experiment"

Lights, Camera... Switchfoot!

I was totally awed when Switchfoot hit their first note on stage. Hands trembling with excitement. One told me that being nervous will make the photos even more outstanding. The fear of having blurred, over or under exposed photos makes us more cautious but on the actual job it's more on instinct. Instinct to change lens, instinct to change angle and position and instinct on when to press the shutter button. The most important thing is timing - like the saying "Timing is everything." and yes I agree it's very true. Shooting photos like a trigger-happy maniac will not give you awesome photos it will just give you a lot of photos with same composition with different exposures and more wasted data on your CF card. Better to be compose wait for the right pose, the right jump-shot and the right moment. Also don't forget to take photos of the crowd, they love it! they're the proof of how successful the concert is, also gives them a sense of connection with the band. After all the craziness going on there's this feeling of self-fulfillment. Even though it's physically tiring still its worth it. Big time!

"Jon Foreman"

"Drew Shirley"

"Shredding Machine"

"Tim Foreman"

"Jerome Fontamillas"

"Chad Butler"

"Switchfoot in Action"

"Reaching Out"

Gears Used

All the photos you see here were taken with my trusted Nikon D700, Nikon 70-200mm F2.8G VR II, and Nikon 16-35mm F4G VR II. I brought along my Think Thank Retrospective 30 for easy access on my gears. One of the best concert bag I've ever used, better than my old Crumpler 8 Million Dollar Home and Nat Geo W5070. I've also used my Nikon 50mm F1.4G on band portraits which you can view on My Flickr Photostream.
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Sunday, April 10, 2011

The Aftermath - Manny Librodo Workshop 2011

It was a rainy morning of April 2, 2011. Actually the rain woke me up. Four of us on the hotel room which they call "Kampong Huts". I didn't get enough sleep because the dinner ended a bit late. I felt bad for my roommates they probably got less sleep than I did because I snore like hell (Hahaha). 6:00 am we had our quick breakfast then headed out to our assigned posts. It's time for us to assist "The Man" Manny Librodo - known for his distinctive style of vividness, details and landscape of textures. With him is the beautiful Kharu - you'll never get enough of her beauty. This lady can reinvent herself on every shoot just amazing, she also does he own make-up.

Rocky Gathercole wowed us with his awesome haute couture designs. I've never seen anything like it it's just surreal. Another model graced us with her presence - Alexia Giensen, also a lovely model. Jacky Forster (former Philippine actress) suppose to do make-up turned out to being one of the model for the afternoon session. There's also the head make-up artist - Jacqie Agabon surprise us with her artistic make-up styling. Not to forget the brain behind all this - Xilver Claire Events headed by Calay de Pedro. Good thing the rain stopped just before the first shoot. It's still drizzling but still bearable (thank god for the weather sealing).

The next day April 3, 2011 is all about post-processing. Manny discussed his workflow and gave a lot of pointers on how he does things and why he's doing it. Hand-outs were given trough email. We tried to help people who's having trouble in Photoshop. Most of them know what to do but sometimes we can't avoid technical errors. Manny makes sure that every attendee is coping with the subject. So he moves from table to table and checks how the students are doing. So far everything turned out well. I have leaned a lot from the experience and I'm looking forward to the next workshop. 

The Aftermath

Here are few photos I took from the workshop. Nothing much but I think Its worth sharing. Gears used - Nikon D700 with 70-200mm F2.8 VRII. No flash. Happy viewing!


Organizer: Xilver Claire Events
Model: Kharunisia Jazmin
Make-up Artist: Kharunisia Jazmin
Haute Couture Designer: Rocky Gathercole

"Smoke Fixation"

Organizer: Xilver Claire Events
Model: Alexia Giensen
Make-up Artist: Jacque Kate Agabon Duguil
Haute Couture Designer: Rocky Gathercole
Style used: High Key Photography


Organizer: Xilver Claire Events
Model: Alexia Giensen
Make-up Artist: Jacque Kate Agabon Duguil
Haute Couture Designer: Rocky Gathercole
Style used: Low Key Photography

"Flight of the Flamingo"

Organizer: Xilver Claire Events
Model: Alexia Giensen
Make-up Artist: Jacque Kate Agabon Duguil
Haute Couture Designer: Rocky Gathercole
Style used: Digital Surrealism

To view complete album visit my My Facebook album and My Flickr photostream. Any any coments and suggestions or questions about photography / visual arts you can drop me an email at or All photos taken by Kris Gironella all rights reserved 2011.
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