Friday night at The Birchmere

22 09 2012

I had the opportunity to do some photography during the John Hiatt concert tonight at The Birchmere in Alexandria, VA. He has such energy (he just turned 60 last month) and is the epitome of cool. It was a great concert!

Shooting photos in low-level light is quite challenging, but I have really come to enjoy it. Most of these images were shot on at least 3200 ISO, Nikon D300 with my Nikkor 80-400 VR lens handheld, wide open aperture in most cases. The gel lights were especially tricky and auto white balance wasn’t always the way to go, so I kept switching my white balance options to compensate for various color hues. Thanks to my friend and freelance music and entertainment writer, Nancy Dunham, for offering me this great opportunity to shoot concert photos again! Below are some of my favorite images from the evening.

In the photos below are: legendary singer/songwriter John Hiatt (top two photos), guitarist and Nashville producer Doug Lancio, bassist and singer Nathan Gehri (two members of The Combo) and the last photo is of Joe Pug (the opening act)

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.

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Photo assignment: Richard Reed, musician

1 09 2010

I recently returned from a photography assignment in Providence, Rhode Island. I was contracted by Cochlear Americas to photograph Richard Reed, a full-time musician who wears a cochlear implant and is the developer of HOPE Notes, a cochlear implant music appreciation program.

HOPE Notes (from the Cochlear Americas website)
“HOPE Notes is the first of its kind—a program uniquely developed for cochlear implant and hearing aid users designed to help improve music perception and appreciation using original songs, traditional Folk, Blues & Country styles and some familiar tunes played in unexpected ways. HOPE Notes includes a CD, DVD, and a detailed User Guide including lyrics designed to assist and enrich your use of the program. The DVD incorporates both visual and audio cues while the CD (designed for use on the go) focuses solely on the audio component of the program.”

To learn more about HOPE Notes or to order, contact Cochlear at 1-(800)-523-5798 or check out their website here.

A Life Without Sound
A late-deafened adult, Richard lost his hearing due to an ototoxic antiobiotic he was given to treat peritonitis in the early 1990s, when he was in his mid-30s. His hearing loss progressed from mild to profound over the next two years. Read more about his hearing loss in Rick Massimo‘s insightful article in The Providence Journal here. Carolyn Smaka from AudiologyOnline interviewed Richard in July. It’s an excellent introduction to Reed’s hearing loss as well as the development of HOPE Notes. Check out her interview here.

When I asked Richard what it was like as a full-time musician to not be able to continue in the field, he told me about playing one night after his hearing loss. “While deaf and using useless powerful digital hearing aids, I used to sit in with my brother Tom in various Blues bands or with old friends. I could feel the bass and drums—thought I could hear myself a little. One night in Newport, it became painfully obvious just how little music I could actually hear. During a piano solo, a cord to my amplifier came loose, but I kept right on playing—with no sound coming out!”

After he retired from performing, he worked in his sister Roberta‘s antique store “refinishing and painting warped and wild folk art furniture, which was therapeutic but unfulfilling.” He wore hearing aids during this time, but didn’t pursue the cochlear implant until 2002. Richard wrote, What It Feels Like…to Regain Your Hearing, in a 2007 issue of Esquire magazine here.

Return to Music
After receiving his Nucleus 24 Contour CI in 2002, Richard noticed a significant improvement in his ability to hear and understand speech, but found listening to music frustrating. With patience, practice and the help of his aural therapist, music became a source of joy again. Not long after his CI was activated, he stayed away from playing the piano because to him it sounded out of tune. He had to go back to the basics with scales and eventually made enough progress to start playing with bands again. Learn more about his journey back to the hearing world in the article, Hero Spotlight: Richard Reed, available on Cochlear Americas website here. In that article, he says, “As ironic as it was for a musician to go deaf, I realized, too, how many friends’ conversations revolved around music—what’s new, who’s good, who’s playing where. Losing music was horrible, but the loss of everyday conversation was worse.”

At Long Last—I’m a Band Groupie!
On my assignment for Cochlear Americas a few weekends ago, I was honored and excited to photograph Richard and a few of his fellow musicians at The Music Complex in Pawtucket, R.I.

His brother, Tom Reed, plays bass. At just 13, Tom taught Richard, then 12, his first songs on the organ. Tom plays freelance—backing up various bands from week to week—and teaches private lessons. He plays electric bass in R&B bands, and upright bass for Blues, Jazz and Rockabilly. He recorded some bass parts for Richard’s HOPE Notes project. (Photo, left to right: Mark Cutler, Jack Moore, Tom Reed and Richard Reed)

Drummer Jack Moore, a high school teacher by day, has played with Stevie Ray Vaughn, Roomful of Blues and many others. He currently plays with Robert Graves Leonard’s Slippery Sneakers, a Rhode Island-based Zydeco band.

Acclaimed guitarist and Grammy-nominated singer-songwriter Mark Cutler‘s latest CD is Red. He has been the lead singer and songwriter for such renown rock bands as The Schemers, The Raindogs, and The Dino Club, and has toured with Warren Zevon, Bob Dylan and many others. The Providence Phoenix recently profiled Mark here. Cutler works in the software business during the week and reserves his very busy weekends for gigs with various ensembles. You’ll find Mark Cutler videos on youtube here. Richard has played many gigs as one of Mark’s sidemen—before going deaf and again post-CI.

Today, Richard plays two to three times a week in New England nightclubs, concerts and recording sessions. When not performing, he travels the world to lecture about his hearing loss experience and “CI music.” He recently returned from Europe, and played squeezebox on two-time Grammy award-winning children’s singer/songwriter Bill Harley‘s newest CD, tentatively titled Songs We Sing. Future travel plans include CI Music Workshops in Salt Lake City in November, Toronto and Orlando in February, then back to the UK in March. Richard is playing with Mark Cutler in a reunion of their old band, The Schemers, in Newport at an autumn festival next month. He says, “this time I’ll hear my piano parts!” When I asked him what inspired him to create HOPE Notes, he said, “it was a way to give CI users simple exercises to learn or relearn some basic songs and tonalities.” He has already starting writing songs for Volume II.

Upcoming Feature in Hearing Loss Magazine
Reed has written an article about his hearing loss and the development of HOPE Notes that will be published in the upcoming November/December 2010 issue of Hearing Loss Magazine, which I design and produce bimonthly for the Hearing Loss Association of America. Donna Sorkin, Vice President of Consumer Affairs for Cochlear Americas, will contribute sidebars about strategies to appreciate music and another titled, “What the Research Says…and Why it Doesn’t Matter.” Some of the images from my photo session will appear in her feature article. Cochlear Americas manufactures Nucleus cochlear implants and the Baha programmable bone conduction system. My otolaryngologist, Dr. John Niparko of Johns Hopkins Medical Center, says that I am a candidate for the Baha system.

Behind-the-Scenes Photo Notes
For the jam session photos, I used the Nikon Creative Lighting System (CLS)—with three Nikon Speedlights (with color-correcting gels)—an SB-900 fitted with an Alzo Mini Softbox as my main light, an SB-800 on the Nikon D300 as the trigger and an SB-600 on the side with a snoot. For the portraits with the beige background (shot in Richard’s home), I used my Nikon SB-800 Speedlight fitted with a Ray Flash, which replicates the lighting effect produced by more expensive studio ring flash units. It produces a shadowless light on your subject and a soft even shadow around the edges. I was very happy with the results of the ring flash in this session. If you’d like to try this type of lighting, check out the Coco Ring Flash Adapter—at just $49.95 on Amazon, it’s well below the $199 I paid for my Ray Flash a few years ago. (Hmmm….which product came first?—The Coco Ring Flash is an almost exact replicate—but I do agree with many of the online reviewers that, for a non-electronic, purely plastic gadget, the Ray Flash is still overpriced at $199. Having said that, I did buy it and am happy with it. When it first came out, it was listed for $299.99. It’s plastic people, plastic—no electronic parts, no cords, nothing—as one reviewer commented, “they were probably shamed into dropping the price.”). At any rate, whether you splurge on the Ray Flash or spring for the “poor man’s” version (which I was unaware of at the time of my purchase)—the Coco Ring Flash—it’s a really fun gadget to add to your photographic arsenal.

Want to learn more about the Nikon Creative Lighting System? Check out the Nikon School Hands-on Guide to Creative Lighting DVD, featuring photographers Bob Krist and Joe McNally. Joe McNally’s book, The Hot Shoe Diaries: Big Light from Small Flashes, is an excellent resource as well. A lighting workshop with this master is definitely on my to-do checklist! Check out McNally’s excellent blog here and Bob Krist’s elegant website here. And for really comprehensive information on lighting, bookmark David Hobby’s blog, Strobist.

Whew! And finally, special thanks to my photo mentor, Brian Loflin, for his tips, troubleshooting and advice…and to Michael Schwehr for his service as my most excellent photo assistant.

All photos are by Cindy Dyer © 2010 Cochlear, Ltd.







Tapas Potluck ’09 with live entertainment!

19 11 2009

This past Saturday Michael and I hosted our first Tapas Party ever—and our first party with live entertainment as well! Charles Mokotoff, an IT specialist by day and gifted classical guitarist by night, played for our guests after the buffet-style potluck dinner. It was a “playing for portraits” arrangement. Charles will be our cover feature for the January/February 2010 issue of Hearing Loss Magazine, published bimonthly by the Hearing Loss Association of America.

After the intimate concert, my friend Ken asked me, “how in the world are you going to top this event?” I must say, having live entertainment sure kicked things up a notch! We managed to squeeze 37 guests (including Michael and me) into our townhouse—and no one seemed too uncomfortable. I think that’s our maximum capacity, though.

Thanks to everyone for bringing delicious appetizers and desserts (and those wonderful wedding gifts, too—thank you notes to come shortly!) and for helping us to continue to celebrate our October 24 wedding! Special thanks to our out-of-town guests, too: Carmen from Greer, South Carolina; Martha from Roanoke, Texas; and Cammie from Sarasota, Florida—it was such a treat to have you three join us. I hope we didn’t disappoint!

Remember—the Annual Chocoholic Party is in February (this will be our 5th)! Hmmm…near Valentine’s Day…what kind of live entertainment will we have for that soiree? Maybe Rod Stewart singing love songs live? Or Harry Connick, Jr. (oops, need a piano for that one). My first choice would be James Taylor. Surely he needs new head shots?

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.





Jay D. Henley, The Music Man

6 11 2007

My latest really fun project was photographing an up-and-coming country singer, Jay D. Henley, for the bimonthly Hearing Loss Magazine, which I also design and produce.

My friend Ed Fagan (www.columbiaphotography.com) has photographed and designed Jay’s three self-published CDs. When Ed recently told me that Jay had a hearing loss (a condition called aural atresia), I knew we just had to interview him and feature him in the magazine. Barbara Kelley (editor of the magazine) and I got to hear him and The Stone Broke Band play at the Carroll County Fairgrounds in August. I got the performance shots of him then (www.cindydyer.com/Henley). Barbara interviewed him afterwards and I shot the cover and feature photos near Jay’s home in Woodbine, Maryland last month. He was a pleasure to photograph and I wish him the best of luck in his musical endeavors (and hope he remembers us when he hits the big time)!

To learn more about Jay and hear his music, go to his Web site: www.jayhenley.com.

Order his CDs online at:
http://cdbaby.com/found?artist=jay+d+henley&soundlike=&style=&album=

The magazine is on its way to HLAA members this week. The magazine is available for download at http://www.hearingloss.org/magazine/latest.asp (click on the far right link to download). Barbara and I hope this exposure to a reading audience of 40,000+ will open doors for him in the music business (and result in a few CD sales in the process)!

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.

henley-covers.jpg