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The Blight – Photography by Neil Girling    » San Francisco

The Blight, © Neil Girling, 1998-2017

Archive for the 'San Francisco' Category

Photos from the 9th Annual Edwardian Ball Sunday Gorey Sunday

Friday, January 30th, 2009

With the final installment of the Sunday Gorey Sunday gallery, pictures from all three days of the 9th annual San Francisco Edwardian Ball are now online. Sunday took place in the wood and red velvet room at the top floor of the Regency Ballroom, and was a decidedly more intimate (and dimly lit) affair. Performances included those by Oryx Incruentus (Andrea Zerilli, guest Paul Mercer) performing to the 1911 silent film “L’Inferno,” The Ghosts Project (Paul Mercer, Minka, Davis, and guests Jill Tracy, Nathaniel, Erica) with Finn from Abney Park dancing,  Shovelman, Lee Presson, Alison Lovejoy, and Agent Ribbons. Non-musical acts included Finn from Abney Park dancing to the Ghosts Project, Evil Sarah (burlesque), Helios Jive (the buffoon clown), Fou Fou Ha!, and several vignettes from the Vau de Vire Society (like the incredibly-difficult-to-photograph swinging-’round-the-room rope act pictured above).

Tonight, via horseless carriage, I do depart for the arid southron lands of the City of Lost Angels for their installment of our grand affair at the historic Tower Theater tomorrow night. Go here for details.

Edwardian Ball photo galleries from Friday and Saturday

Wednesday, January 28th, 2009

Eva, aka Miss Never — click for Saturday’s photo gallery

It is one of the “only in San Francisco” sort of affairs in which we love to indulge, with thousands of people decking themselves out to the nines for three days of decadence in the extravagant and recently beautifully renovated Regency Ballroom center (Mike Vau de Vire told me they were pulling the blue painter’s tape off on Friday during setup). Having moved from the Great American Music Hall, where the Ball has been held in prior years, there was some concern as to whether the much larger Regency Ballroom could be filled; after three days of packed halls, that question has been answered.

The Ballroom Saturday night — click for Saturday’s photos

Saturday was the main night of the ball, with the headliner and chanteuse Jill Tracy playing with the Malcontent Orchestra, and later the hosts Rosin Coven, accompanied with performances by Cirque Berzerk and Vau de Vire Society.

These may be my favorite costumes of Friday night — click here for the gallery.

Friday night was steampunk-themed (though not explicitly advertised as such so as to avoid offending us purists), but brass and goggles and steam-powered contraptions were certainly donned by many an attendee, and those self-ascribed purveyors of steampop Abney Park definitely put on a great show. Rounding out the lineup musically were those corseted and quirky Rasputina, of whom I am a fan (what’s not to like? women playing cello, corsets, songs of nonsense and tomfoolery sung with a straight face? Indeed).

Sunday’s gallery is coming as soon as I finish editing the 1,000+ photos I shot for it. Check back Thursday night — they had better be up by then, for the next eve I depart for an additional fix of hats and corsets at the Los Angeles edition of the Edwardian Ball at the Tower Theater. (You should go).

And did you know I added a “prints” section?

Edwardian Ball 2009 teaser

Sunday, January 25th, 2009

It’s off to the third night of the extravagant gala that is the Edwardian Ball, and though I had delusions about getting Saturday’s photos up before I left, and though they’re nearly finished, they shall sadly have to wait until tomorrow. I have but one thing to offer you as a stop-gap measure before you begin hounding me for imagery of this fantastic affair, and so I present you Meredith Yayanos, violin player and thereminist extraordinaire, as well as editor at the love letter to alternative culture that is the dark and beautiful Coilhouse Magazine.

Meredith Yayanos and her Penny Farthing at the Edwardian Ball 2009

Meredith Yayanos with her Penny Farthing at the Edwardian Ball 2009

Come back and look for photos from all three days of the Edwardian Ball online here starting tomorrow evening. And now, it’s off to see the Ghosts Project in the red velvet upstairs of the Regency Ballroom.

*** UPDATE ***

Photos frrom Saturday are now online — see them here.

A Year in Review Part 2 — 2008

Tuesday, January 20th, 2009

I shall continue where I left off in Part the First, no less tired this time around, but a scant few hours before my self-imposed bedtime — and if I don’t finish it now, then when? Indeed.

Once again, the full gallery of my Year in Review photographs can be seen here — I have selected one photo per thousand I shot all year (45,000 in all), picking ones I thought particularly interesting in the story they told, amusing somehow, or just a personal favorite.

The first image is Magdelene Veen, formerly of Abney Park, at the Emerging Illusions fashion show with Creatureform Designs; she reposted several of these photos titled “I am some sort of demon crow.” Her act was that of a ballerina; and this shot, though backstage, reminds me of the same flow and movement (though I’m not sure she even knew I took this).

We of course love the Dresden Dolls, those purveyors of punk cabaret and one of the first mainstream underground (yes, I’m aware of the contradiction) acts to combine musical and non-musical performance acts on their stage — for, in 2005, as a fan of the Dresden Dolls, how else would I have been introduced to Vau de Vire Society but by seeing them perform onstage alongside a favorite band? The rest is history. Pictured here is Brian Viglione at the Fillmore, where I was brought in to shoot the show (and I had dinner with Brian, Amanda and Meredith Yayanos beforehand: they’re all amazing sweethearts).

Hiding ‘neath the swirl of the skirt here is Leila Bazzani of Black and Blue Burlesque, performing with the Yard Dogs Roadshow at Lightning in a Bottle 2008. You may notice a similarity to a certain other photo of mine, which just so happens to be her partner in crime, Tuesday Blue.

Please see the rest after the cut (even if it’s just to browse the photos…).

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Two-Thousand Eight — a Year in Review (pt. 1)

Friday, January 16th, 2009

With 2008 growing colder by the day in the grave, it’s time to pay our last respects and take a quick look at the events that transpired during that time. It was a momentous year for me: I spent my first time ever without a plan, being homeless on a clown’s couch for two months whilst much rockstardom was had, until I got a call out of the blue and a job offer fell into my lap (after a technical phone screening and a grueling six-hour interview with some of the brightest engineers I’ve ever met). Some have said good riddance; I heard the same about 2007. Not so, here — 2007 was the year I hit my stride with photography, and saw extensive growth technically and in my relationships with performers, and ended with my graduation from University and my move to San Francisco (finally). 2008 continued the upward momentum, and every month it seems I can look back at the one prior and think, “Really? That’s the best I could do?”

The only fitting and proper (and believable) way I could discuss 2008 is through the use of photos. Briefly: in 2008 I shot 85 events spanning 104 days, totaling 45,000 photos. This summary contains one photograph per 1,000 images I took last year, with a brief vignette as to why I thought it pertinent or amusing. Everything is in chronological order. You can click here for the full gallery of images.

I ended 2007 and started 2008 I had the past several years, at the San Francisco Concourse Exhibition Center with Anon Salon for Sea of Dreams. This year I was hired by Vau de Vire Society to work the show with them. I have something of a tradition of getting photos of myself in whatever mirror I can find, primarily through necessity: if I don’t get one, it’s likely no documentation will exist (people always forget to get pictures of meeee).

The Hot Couture fashion show marks the last event I’ll ever work for the Crucible as long as Michael Sturtz is running the show: on one occasion alone (at the Fire Arts Festival in 2007) he treated me more rudely than every other person at every other event I’ve ever worked has treated me (and that wasn’t the only event where it happened!). Other than him, I think the Crucible is great and does marvelous things for the community. I look forward to working with them again, either via a change in heart or a change in leadership.

Please see much, much more after the cut. (Really. I wrote a lot. At least skim the pictures?)

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Edwardian Ball 2009! Also, Dickens, Post Yule Pyre, and Sea of Dreams photos.

Friday, January 9th, 2009

Coming up this month —

SF_edwardian09_11x17 EdBall_LA_11x17_laser

The San Francisco and the Los Angeles Edwardian Ball! I’m delighted to be the official photographer for this extravagant event, and am honored to share the bill with some of my favorite and most talented artists (including Jill Tracy, Paul Mercer, and Rasputina).

Friday is for you steampunk ninnies (and Rasputina!),

Saturday for the belle of the ball, the villainesse Jill Tracy,

and Sunday if you want the luxury of the red carpet and the ethereal soundscapes of the Ghosts Project.

You should go so that I might take your photo. It will be my job (though you’re still welcomed (and encouraged) to buy me a drink. Really.). And I can’t tell you which to use, but if you enter “belle” or “hubba” as a discount code, you’ll get $5 off your ticket price (I’m not special enough to have my own discount code).

And, in recent photo galleries, we have…

The last day of the 2008 Dickens Fair ~

Pictured is Andrea Zerilli of Oryx Incruentus (who, incidentally, will be playing at the Edwardian Ball) playing a harp in one of the shops — she claims she had no idea the chair had wings.

Next, from Sea of Dreams, we have my friends the Mutaytor:

I could have shot (considerably) more, since it was a great party (selling over 8,000 tickets, the rumor went), but due to budget concerns, I was not hired by Anon Salon (though they gave me free tickets) and so I instead elected to shoot only those folk who did ply me with free drinks (these things go far, people). Next year, however, I suspect I will elect for something markedly more quiet (though we’ll see if I keep -that- promise).

Finally, Danger Ranger (Michael Michael) and the Cacophony Society bring you the 20th Annual Post-Yule Pyre,

…wherein everyone coincidentally showed up with a dried-up dilapidated Christmas tree in tow… and then proceeded to place them in a large pile where they spontaneously combusted. Honest to God, officer.

Storytime Festival and Hubba Hubba Revue photos, and a rant on lighting

Saturday, December 27th, 2008
Angelo flies above the crowd

Each of the two shows for the Storytime Festival were divided into two halves — the first was akin to an international dance competition, featuring troupes from all over in vastly different styles, while Vau de Vire filled the second half. The afternoon show was Vau de Vire’s first “kid-friendly” and theater-style performance, as well as the largest venue at which we have performed (two sold-out shows of 1,000 people each, and the stage itself was as big as the DNA Lounge). The first show was a bit rocky, in terms of practice and other technical aspects (sound, etc.) details I’m delighted not to be privy to nor involved with (a classic example of “not my job!” and I’d only be in the way anyway).

The first photo above shows one of our lovely Vau de Vire girls doing a front-flip over a flaming rope, and the second is my favorite shot I’ve ever gotten of Angelo Rodriguez flying above the audience — I last saw this in February at the Super Bowl show we did with 944 Magazine, but the circular nature of his path makes autofocus nearly impossible. I managed to capture it this time. Go see the full gallery here.

Hubba Hubba Reuve Christmas Special took place the day before the Storytime Festival (and Dickens Fair the day after) making last weekend one of the longest in recent memory. If you’ve ever wondered why you occasionally find black-and-white photos scattered throughout my image galleries, it’s not because I’m trying to be artistic. No, let me tell you a secret: It’s because I couldn’t fix the color balance or the lighting was awful. The gentleman responsible for lighting Hubba Hubba Revue likes to wash the stage in a single color (never good) and is a huge fan of pink, of all colors (even worse). The vast majority of my post-processing time I spend on Hubba Hubba Revue photos is just trying to fix the color to make skin look like, well, skin and to provide my viewers with something other than a blasted pink landscape of pasties and pretty girls. See below for a few examples of before-and-after:

hhr_towels

Before and after, showing post-processing

hhr_bunny

Before and after, showing post-processing

As you can see, the original images on the left were lit with pink (blue and red) lights, full-on and direct, with the backgrounds largely ignored. I’m no theatre lighting expert (ask Mr. Devon aka Baconmonkey for a separate rant regarding this if you want more detail) but I know that the DNA Lounge has some excellent lighting rigs, and they’re responsible for making a show look as good as it can possibly look. And in terms of photos, while you might not notice a particular color wash when you’re watching the show, a gallery of pictures that are all lit the same become monotonous and it’s difficult to differentiate between the various acts (or even tell what color their costumes were). From a photographic standpoint, the performers themselves need to be lit with pure white light, with colors supporting the sides and background. Or at least give me a white spotlight or throw a few white lights in the mix? A camera’s sensor is a mix of red, green and blue filters, so if you only use one or two colors to light the stage, my camera can only use a fraction of its light-capturing capability, and image quality suffers heavily.

Go see the full gallery of HHR’s Christmas Special here.

Upcoming Events — Storytime Festival, Hubba Hubba Revue and the Edwardian Ball

Wednesday, December 10th, 2008

Coming up on Friday the 19th of this month is Hubba Hubba Revue — Christmas Special. I shall be your photographer for the evening.

Then, on Saturday, December 20th,  your favorite circus troupe Vau de Vire Society, joined by the buffoons of Fou Fou Ha! and the goofballs of Gooferman will entertain you with not one but two (2!) shows at the decadent Palace of Fine Art in San Francisco. The first show is family-friendly (shocking, I know) and the second a bit more like you’re used to (similar to Cirque du Soleil meets burlesque with a two-drink minimum).  Get your tickets here: www.storytimefestival.org. I’m the official photographer for this event.

And, coming up in January is the inimitable and fabulous Edwardian Ball, about which I’m sure you’ve heard so much. Three days of yesteryear decadence are yours for the taking, and tickets are available here: www.edwardianball.com. I am most delighted to be the official photographer for this event as well (an honor, indeed).

Also upcoming is the Sea of Dreams New Years Eve bash by Anon Salon, at which they’ve asked be to be a photographer (but negotiations are yet underway). It’s very likely you’ll see me there, joining my friends The Mutaytor from Los Angeles.

New photo galleries — GWAR, BRAF’s Artumnal Gathering, Bohemian Carnival, Hubba Hubba Revue, and 5&Diamond’s Anniversary

Monday, December 1st, 2008

All jam-packed in this extra-special bonus post! Separate descriptions and writeups coming soon.

GWAR, Kingdom of Sorrow, Terror, and Toxic Holocaust at the San Francisco Regency Center Ballroom in November.

Bohemian Carnival at the DNA Lounge, at which my 24-70 2.8 Zeiss was knocked down and broken.

Hubba Hubba Revue’s Girl Gang at the DNA Lounge.

Black Rock Art Foundation’s (BRAF) Artumnal Gathering at the Bentley Reserve, at which I ran a portrait station the entire evening.

5 & Diamond’s 1-Year Anniversary party at Supperclub San Francisco.

Hay Maze / Stripmall Architecture galleries, and upcoming events

Thursday, November 20th, 2008

This Saturday saw the second installation of the Crazy Hay Maze party in Half Moon Bay by Circus Metropolus and Anon Salon. The Nexus party the week at the same location a scant week earlier stole much of the thunder this this party, for people were fairly wrecked after the first (or so I’ve heard). I ran a photo studio tucked into one of the rooms in the maze; pictured above is Star St. Germain.

Last week at the DNA Lounge was a show with Bloodline, Claire Voyant, and Stripmall Architecture (sometimes Halou) and they played music. And it was good. All three of them. Fans of Halou are still raving about the show. Click image above or here for the gallery.

UPCOMING ~

And now, for some upcoming events at which I’m shooting (or you could just check the calendar):

TONIGHT: GWAR at the SF Regency. I’ve been hired to shoot them. I find this hilarious. (Monster costumed thrash metal? Oh yeah). Going to have to watch out for the sprays of fake blood, however.

TOMORROW: Hubba Hubba Revue at the DNA Lounge.

SATURDAY: The Black Rock Art Foundation’s Artumnal Gathering at the Bentley Reserve; my photos will be on display, and I’m running a small on-location studio for portraits.

SUNDAY: Five and Diamond’s 1-year anniversary party at Supperclub San Francisco.