RAW Vibes

HDR interior shots of Raw Vibes art gallery & dance studio

Showing both the art side and dance side of Raw Vibes in St. Petersburg

Continuing my photography work for local art community friend Laly, owner of Raw Vibes Art and Performance Space, yesterday morning I shot the interior of the art gallery/dance studio space.  I chose to do 9-bracket HDR shots at f/8.  Processing was done in Photomatix for the making of the HDR shot, then I followed my usual workflow of Aperture 3, Color Efex Pro 3 & Photoshop CS4 to edit them.  

For the above shot I was looking for an angle that showed both the art gallery side and dance studio side of the space.  Maybe having a pair of dancing shoes as a prop on the floor would have been a good idea had I thought of it at the time!

The mirrors were enhanced in this shot by using selective contrast adjustment in PS CS4

Shooting straight into the gallery was the biggest challenge with multiple track lights all at different temperatures casting different light on the walls and floor.  I chose to align my image by the floor along the back wall, knowing that has to be a true level surface.  I usually do not assume ceilings are as uniformly straight.  I made some corrections using the lens distortion filter in PS CS4.  

The "black box" room at Raw Vibes offers pole dancing classes

Another challenge was the "black box" room in the back of the space.  You may recall I made a portrait of pole dance instructor Marla on the very same pole last month.  This room was nearly completely dark, and is always very low lit.  I chose to make only a 5-bracket HDR shot of this space because even with that shutter speeds were getting very long.  The original HDR image was quite bright.  That is not how the room really is seen by people, so I burned the whole image and then added a vignette leaving the pole itself as the brighter, focal point of the image.

HDR is needed for this kind of shot to properly expose the red wall and outside the window.

The last shot is the entrance to the art/studio space.  Here I did a 9-bracket HDR image to insure I could properly expose the dark red wall on the left as well as outside the window.  A single long exposure shot would have blown out the window for sure.  The object on the right is a mirror showing the painting in the lead photo.  The mirror again was enhanced by selecting it with the magic wand in PS CS4 then adjusting the contrast on just that area, which removed glare from it.  

When shooting these types of tricky HDR shots, I put a lot of work into perfecting the final image in editing.  I nit pick over reducing a shadow slightly here, adjusting the contrast on just this area, etc.  It is a fun challenge and I really enjoy the nit picking editing process actually!  

Gallery & Art Performance Space Promotional Portraits

Local art scene friend Laly wanted some promotional shots of her to rebrand Raw Vibes

It is always nice when I can work with friends, so when Laly called me up asking if I could make some promotional shots of her inside Raw Vibes for some rebranding she wanted to do, I said, "I'd love to!" She did not want static, posed shots of her just sitting in her art performance space/gallery or anything like that, which was fine with me as I like to specialize in candid style and putting the person in motion makes for an interesting creative and technical photography challenge.  

This promotional shot of Laly mirrors the curve and flow of the image she wants to put forth for Raw Vibes

To make these shots I put my Nikon SB-600 Speedlight on my light stand at its max height of 9' above and to frame left.  I shot with my Nikon D300 using my Nikkor 105mm VR micro lens from way on the other side of the gallery/performance space triggering the strobe in commander mode.  I used aperture priority mode / f8 / 1/60th / ISO 200 / SB-600 @ -0.3 (about)

The challenge was to catch Laly in just the right frozen motion as she danced herself into the candid pose.  She described to me earlier what she envisioned for the shot and I concentrated on waiting for that exact moment and after quite a few tries, I was able to frame everything right and capture Laly at full extension.  It always feels good going from idea to actuality in photography.   

Pole Dancer Model Portrait Session at Raw Vibes

Pole Dancer Marla in the Black Box room of RAW Vibes in St Petersburg FloridaSunday evening I had a portrait/model session with Marla, a pole dancing instructor at RAW Vibes, the art and performance space run by Saint Petersburg art community friend, Laly, whom last year exhibited my haikyo photographs.  

It was very easy to work with Marla, who posed very well on her own.  I do not believe I said a word to her about posing the entire time, she just went from great pose to great pose.  This allowed me to focus on just making and composing the photographs as best as I could.

The "DANCE" painting was already on the wall, so I cannot take credit for thinking to include it in the photograph.  I did of course notice it and tried to make best use of it for this photograph.  I position myself so that no part of Marla overlapped with the frame of the painting, and also to make it seem like the person in the painting is gazing upon Marla, unbeknownst to her.  I imagined the viewer of this image to be like the viewer in the painting.  

I chose the "antique plate" filter in Silver Efex Pro 3 because I wanted to really accentuate Marla as the subject of the photograph and put into shadow most of the background.  

How I made this photograph:

  • Nikon D300 with Tamron XR Di II 17-50mm lens handheld
  • f/8, 1/60th, ISO 200, aperture priority
  • strobist:  Nikon SB-600 Speedlight on light stand high to frame left triggered by commander mode on the D300
  • processing:  RAW file in Aperture 3, image clean up in Photoshop CS4, conversion to black & white in Silver Efex Pro 3

Setting up for my haikyo exhibition

The gallery space in RAW Vibes as we bring the very first haikyo photographs in.This late night RAW Vibes owner Jeff and I worked tirelessly for as long as our eyes could stay open to get up all the 16x20 prints for Friday night's haikyo exhibition.  It was fun, but tiring, but we made good progress.  I am writing this with an exhausted mind....so just enjoy the sneak preview photos of the exhibition for now.  I'm going to sleep.....

With all the haikyo photographs catergorized and put next to their respective wallspace, we were ready to start hanging.


Jeff has good hanging skills and we got the haikyo prints all within a single millimeter of each other.


All the 16x20 haikyo prints up! I left after this, but Jeff may have labored on as all the 16x9 and 24x36 and 8x10 images still needed to be hung.

Haikyo - Urban Decay from Japan Exhibition

The flyer for my first exhibition in Florida. Exhibition opens November 13, 2009 at http://www.rawvibesart.com

On Friday November 13th at 8pm at RAW Vibes Art and Performance Space I will have my first exhibition in Florida!  The photographs I will be showing for this exhibition will be my haikyo photos from Japan.  I must admit I never expected this collection of photographs to be the first images I publicly showed in the U.S., but I became very fast friends with the owner of RAW Vibes, Jeff Henriquez, about a month ago and he was a very big fan of the haikyo images.

Over 60 photographs will be on display in prints ranging from the standard 8x10 up to the gallery standard of 16x20 all the way up to a few selected pieces at 40x60!  Prices will vary accordingly with many prints available at very reasonable prices for all budgets.  For those with no budgetary concerns, the 40x60 prints will make a striking statement in your business, home or office.  Orders can be placed on site for any piece already sold that you wish to also purchase (25% deposit required).  

I will be present the full 3-hours of the opening night to answer any questions about the haikyo images.  I will also give a brief presentation on the collection of haikyo images in general, including what exactly haikyo is, how they were found, and what it is like to spend the night in an abandoned hotel!

Admission on opening night is $7.  If you leave a comment below, I will choose at random one person to receive two free passes to the opening (you and a guest).  Refreshments will be served at no charge.  

Please RSVP for the opening on Facebook or by leaving a comment below.

Thank you for your support and I hope to see everyone on the 13th!


Haikyo - Urban Decay from Japan exhibition

  • RAW Vibes, 2109 Central Ave, Saint Petersburg, FL, 33713 -- 727-557-8266
  • Friday November 13, 2009 
  • 8pm-11pm

RAW Vibes Art & Performance Space Grand Opening

Cutting the ribbon on the Grand Opening of RAW Vibes Art & Performance Space in St. Petersburg

Two weeks ago I first met Jeff, the owner of RAW Vibes Art & Performance Space in St. Petersburg.  I showed him some of my haikyo photography from Japan and to my surprise he really liked it.  Jeff quickly began talking about having an exhibition of my work and of RAW Vibes' upcoming grand opening.

Some of the paintings and photography already on display at the grand opening of RAW Vibes.

I arrived a bit fashionably late to the grand opening (had to stop at Publix and buy more Gatorade!).  Even from half a block away though I could tell the place was already packed as there were some people also outside milling around.  After meeting Jeff at the door and giving him a small grand opening present (a framed haikyo 8x10 print) and getting a water from the bar (I do not drink), being a relatively shy person I just quietly browsed all the paintings and photographs along the lengthy wall spaces.  After that lap I got the ok from Jeff to start shooting away, and I went right to work and as I raised my D300 to my eye all my shyness went away, as it always does.  I now had a purpose and could stop being in the event and switch to being in the event while outside of it via my lens.  This is how I feel most comfortable at such social gatherings--in them, but not of them.

 The crew that helped get RAW Vibes up and running (owner Jeff, center with hat & white shirt)

I was mostly on the hunt for candids and interesting angles, but there were a few posed shots like the above one with Jeff and the crew that helped him get RAW Vibes off the ground.  I know the guy on the far left is the photographer whose work was on display, and the guy second from the right was one of thew two DJs.  The guy to the left of Jeff is an illustrator.  

A flamenco dancer was the first entertainment of the night.

Jeff gave a short speech thanking everyone who made the grand opening possible and to everyone who came out to show their support.  A small stage was setup and and a flamenco dancer performed several dances which got the people in attendance quite energized.  I was focused on trying to get a good shot switching between full power flash, and a bit of shutter drag as can be seen in the above image.  

Jeff takes a turn at the turntables to be the DJ for awhile.

After the flamenco dancing Jeff took over the turntables and did a bit of DJ-ing.  I thought the dark brown wall behind him made for an interesting color background.  Fortunately, he was wearing a white shirt too.  I had to to experiment with angles to get only Jeff in the shot as there were always people ambling in and out of frame.

Pedro put on a strong spoken word performance ending in two hip hop songs.

In a very subtle way, all of a sudden Pedro (above) commanded the attention of the crowd with a seemingly out of the blue spoken word performance.  There was quite a diverse demographic on hand from perhaps his usual target audience all the way up to older family members and kids, so it was interesting to see how the words he was spitting fell on the different people in the crowd.  He transitioned into a hip hop performance with a crowd pleasing number with I think his wife rapping back and forth with him during the chorus.  

David rips into an energetic freestyle in the "Black Box" roomLast but not least for the happening in the main gallery room, was David, a well-known poet in the St. Petersburg area.  I had met him that first night I met Jeff, but this was my first time to hear him speak.  I was immediately impressed as his normal somewhat laid back demeanor dissolved into a rapid-delivery poet of demanding attention.  He gave only a few sentence burst in the main gallery room, and said if you were feeling what he was saying, then join him in the back room, also called the "Black Box" room, a place where Jeff has stated several times there is "no censorship."  A bold performance ensued and I was able to make my best photograph of the evening (above).  

RAW Vibes Art & Performance Space exterior at 2109 Central Ave, St. Petersburg, FL 33713 Although the performances continued on, I made my way home early as is also my custom.  

RAW VIBES Art and Performance Space info: