Dirty Cello - Bluegrass and Blues at Old Mill Park

If you've not heard of Dirty Cello, check out their website.  Their music is amazing!  I hadn't been exposed to much bluegrass music until I listened to some of their work.  They're a lot of fun!  And this past summer they wrapped up a summer tour of Europe!

I photographed cellist Rebecca Roudman when she performed a free concert with pianist Noel Benkman at the Cadillac Hotel in early 2017.  Classically trained, Rebecca started Dirty Cello to play the other side -- so to speak -- of the cello.  After talking for a bit, I asked if she wanted to do a trade shoot and she agreed.

Rebecca chose Old Mill Park in Mill Valley as our shoot location, and what a wonderful location it is!  I'm very familiar with the bridge at Old Mill Park because it's the turnaround point for the Double Dipsea, and I've run that insane race three times.  We met on Labor Day afternoon and the results were stunning!

Enjoy the photos!  As always, I've included the camera settings for reference.  I also had to use a speedlight for all of the below shots because it was a bright, sunny day with a lot of dark shadows.  I had the ISO set to auto for the entire shoot.

First up is Rebecca.  I chose to shoot at a slight upward angle as if she were on a stage and you're looking up at her.

ISO 200   23mm lens   f/1.4   1/25sec

The wood of the Old Mill Bridge is absolutely amazing.  It has great reflective properties, although it did also present a challenge because it was bouncing a slight yellow tint into the camera.

Next is Jason.

ISO 320   23mm lens   f/2.0   1/125sec

You can see by the shadows where the speedlight is located.  My shutter speed was a little too low here so as Jason moved his head, his face went slightly out of focus.

This next shot is one of two that Rebecca chose for the Dirty Cello website.

ISO 200   16mm lens   f/1.4   1/250sec

The speedlight was located in the upper right hand corner of the frame, being held by a young lady who happened to be walking through the park with her mom.  (An interesting side note is that her mom just happened to be a fan of Dirty Cello!)  I was balancing on one of the thick wooden beams, and because it was so close to where Rebecca was, I had to use my 16mm prime lens to get all of the band members and the bridge's structure in the shot.  I later converted the image to sepia because ... hey, it's bluegrass so it needs kinda that older country feel to it!

Next was a nice solo photo of Hannah and her mandolin.

ISO 200   56mm lens  f/1.2   1/250sec

I didn't notice it until I started taking her photo that the frame of her glasses also matched the color of her mandolin.  I used the 56mm prime lens for her shot because I needed the background greens to fade out a bit.

Next we have Colin, the bass player.

ISO 200   56mm lens   f/1.2   1/250sec

I stuck with the 56mm lens again for Colin so that I could get a little subject isolation and make sure he was separated from the bright background.  The speedlight also helped with the added contrast.

Next is the second photo Rebecca chose for the Dirty Cello website.

ISO 800   35mm lens   f/4.0   1/125sec

Again, the sepia conversion to give it that bluegrass feel.  I also shot at f/4 just to keep everyone and their instruments in focus.

Here's a bit of a light-hearted moment with the band.  Not sure who was telling a joke, either Jason or Colin.

ISO 800   35mm lens   f/2.8   1/125sec

After Colin and Hannah left, I took some additional shots of Rebecca and Jason.  Here's a sweet moment between husband and wife.

ISO 640   90mm lens   f/2.0   1/125sec

Since I was using the 90mm prime lens, I had to stand pretty far back in order to get this shot.  And since I wanted to shoot wide open at f/2, I had to line them up just right to get Rebecca, Jason, and their instruments in focus.  I took the temperature up just a wee bit in Lightroom in order to achieve that warm feeling.

This is the first time I've ever had the honor of photographing a band, and it was a fun experience!  Rebecca provided some lovely classical pieces for my website in trade for these photos, and I'm still trying to figure how to get them on the site so that they can play automatically, but below is one of the classical pieces she recorded.  Hit PLAY and have a listen!

Gear used:  Fuji X-T2, 90mm f/2 prime lense, 56mm f/1.2 prime lens, 35mm f/1.4 prime lens, 23mm f/1.4 prime lens, 16mm f/1.4 prime lens, Yongnuo flashes and remote triggers.