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live event photography - book of souls, an iron maiden tribute band - photo copyright adrian feliciano, all rights reserved - book a photoshoot at adrianfeliciano.com

Live Event Photography with Book of Souls

Heavy Metal Photography: Band Practice

A couple of weeks ago, I was approached by an old high-school friend of mine, Jason, about photographing his new heavy metal band, Book of Souls, an Iron Maiden tribute band during their upcoming public debut at the Strange Brew Pub in Norwich, CT. During our conversation, we discussed my coming down to photograph one of their band practice sessions, in order to get some usable promo photos with the promise that I would be as unobtrusive as possible in order to avoid disrupting their practice.

The photos that came about as a result turned out to be a complete change of pace from the usual electronic dance music event oriented photography I’ve been immersed in for the past few years. Heavy metal has always been my musical home, so to speak, and it was refreshing to hear the first power chords as they plugged in!

live event photography - book of souls, an iron maiden tribute band - photo copyright adrian feliciano, all rights reserved - book a photoshoot at adrianfeliciano.com
Book of Souls‘ Jason Berube on bass

Event photography with the Black Foamie Thing

I wanted to share a little bit of the flash photography technique that I frequently use to light photos like the one of Jason, above. To date, it has never failed me.

For starters, before photographing any scene with additional lighting, I always underexpose the ambient a bit. I want the main subject(s) to pop within the image. To do that, the main, or key, light needs to dominate the scene. Ambient, or background lighting, can become fill-light, back-light, rim-light, or eliminated all together. The key to lighting (Haha!) a photo well is seeing and then controlling the light in a scene.

So, after a quick test exposure to get a measure of the room’s ambient light levels and setting the camera to under-expose the photo, it’s time to add my light to the scene. It’s always best to get light off the camera and from a higher angle, cuz “natural light” is always above-axis to your lens.

Flash photography 101, right?

But what if you’re in a small studio space, how are you supposed to get a speedlight raised and angled well when there is already barely enough room for you to stand?

The simplest solution is to attach the speedlight to your camera’s hotshoe, but direct flash on-camera flash can look rough unless, of course, you know how to use direct flash effectively.

headshot of blonde female model with dark red lipstick against a red wooden background - copyright adrian feliciano, all rights reserved - visit adrianfeliciano.com
Direct flash headshot of Liz Arruda of apogeeflowtoys.com

So, bounce the flash, right? Advanced flash photography technique 101. Bounce. The. Flash.

Sure, it helps, but it also tends to throw light around haphazardly and you risk flash-punching and annoying the people around you (like people trying to practice for an upcoming heavy metal gig).

You can improve bounced-flash in a variety of ways (non-affiliate links):

  • ExpoImaging sells their Rogue Flashbenders for about $45 for use as a flag or snoot,
  • you can go completely Gary Fong chaotic and use his Lightsphere® — which throws light everywhere, uncontrollably, for around $70,
  • or pay more with the MagSphere for about $50 plus the required MagGrip for $25

Enter The Black Foamie Thing.

It’s a simple piece of black art foam cut to size and then held in place on the speedlight with a hair tie, or rubber band, or a ball-bungee cord, or a Velcro speed strap. Go as expensive as you really want with whatever you use to attach it to your flash. It’s your money to spend.

If you use hair ties, all told, you’d probably be using what amounts to maybe $2.00 to simulate a larger flash modifier like a good soft box that can easily cost around $60 to begin with.

Flash settings are crazy easy. Set your flash to eTTL, and point it to project the light onto the surface you want your “key light” to come from while dialing your ISO to higher than base settings (100-200, depending on the camera) or setting it to auto ISO.

Yes, really — you can get soft, simple, directional light with just an on-camera speedlight, a piece of cheap art foam, and a hair tie!

It’s how I lit nearly all the indoor and some outdoor images I took while at the newspaper:

portrait of an older black man wearing blue collared shirt, suspenders, and beige tie in front of a darker beige wall and city of holyoke massachusetts flag - published by the daily hampshire gazette - photo copyright adrian feliciano, all rights reserved - see more at adrianfeliciano.com
DAILY HAMPSHIRE GAZETTE / ADRIAN FELICIANO – 2011 Portrait of Holyoke Police Chief, Anthony Scott (Ret) next to the City of Holyoke Massachusetts flag

It’s how I light a lot of the event photos I take when I am in a smaller venue:

live performance image of Black woman wearing headphones at DJ decks with multicolored red, yellow, orange, and green background lighting effect at elements, a local Boston drum and bass weekly, held at The Phoenix Landing in Cambridge, MA - Photo © Adrian Feliciano, all rights reserved | Adrianfeliciano.com
Mizeyesis performing her birthday set at elements, a weekly drum and bass night held at The Phoenix Landing in Cambridge, MA.
female bodied DJ wearing a tank top and headphones spinning music - copyright adrian feliciano, all rights reserved - adrianfeliciano.com
Artemis on decks at New England Junglist Massive
square format image of female dj on decks with an excited smile - copyright adrian feliciano, all rights reserved - contact adrianfeliciano.com to book your next photoshoot
Marianne / Glowworm on deck at elements, a weekly drum and bass night held at The Phoenix Landing in Cambridge, MA.

It’s how I’ve lit impromptu portraits:

black and white photo of tribal fusion performer wearing a skull and spike headpiece and thin veil - copyright adrian feliciano, all rights reserved - visit adrianfeliciano.com to book a photoshoot
Portrait of Nicole at Wonder Bar in Allston, MA

Boudoir photography:

boudoir photography with woman wearing a corset and putting on white lace stockings copyright adrianfeliciano.com
Boudoir photography with Angil Love
Boudoir photography session with anonymous model

Nude photos:

From a nude body painting photoshoot in NH

Even some still life fine art photos:

From a nude body painting photoshoot in NH

And it’s how I lit a heavy metal band practicing in a studio space no bigger than a small bedroom:

In summary

Flash photography does not have to be a complicated or unnecessarily expensive affair. $2.00 – $3.00 and a surface to bounce light off is all it should take to vastly improve the look of your photography without resorting to trying to “fix it in post.”

Want to see more of my photography?

My photography portfolio presents the best of my headshot, portrait, boudoir, nightlife event, and fire performer and flow artist photography.

Want to schedule a photography session?

If you’re nearby and would like to schedule a photo shoot together, please visit my contact page to send me a message so we can get started!

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photo of Hampshire Life cover depicting a portrait of an older black man wearing blue collared shirt, suspenders, and beige tie in front of a darker beige wall and city of holyoke massachusetts flag - letting spells out "Hampshire Life - The Gazette's Weekly Magazine for the Pioneer Valley" and "Great Scott? The controversial tenure of Holyoke's retiring police chief, page 12" - published by the daily hampshire gazette - photo copyright adrian feliciano, all rights reserved - see more at adrianfeliciano.com

Portrait of Holyoke Massachusetts Police Chief Scott

Photography assignment: The Daily Hampshire Gazette

In 2011, the Gazette sent me on assignment to take some photos of Holyoke Police Chief Scott for a story they were doing on his impending retirement. To this day, Chief Scott remains one of my favorite portrait photography subjects and this photo assignment remains one of my favorites.

Photography gear used

I didn’t have much, at this point, in terms of photography equipment. Just a Canon Rebel XTi, 580EX-II Speedlight, a Sigma 17-70mm 2.8-4.0 lens, a Canon 50mm 1.4, and Canon 85mm 1.8 lens and a basic camera bag.

No fancy lighting, no quick-setup light-stand, no portable softbox or light modifiers. Not even a cheap umbrella.

I just had some hair ties and a black foamie thing.

Meet Anthony Scott, Holyoke Police Chief

Chief Scott was no nonsense, approachable, friendly enough, but very disinterested in the whole ordeal. I managed to get a few photos of him outside the station. One of the images that got published was one where he immediately scanned the next street as one of the cruisers blew by, lights flashing and sirens blaring; the photo looked as if he was keeping an eye on the department as much as he kept watch over Holyoke. The City and Department were his domain and he kept a close eye on both.

Chief Scott’s ambivalence to getting a “photo for the paper” made it difficult to show any kind of connection that could engage readers of the Gazette. He had three basic expressions — bored, uninterested, and none — while his department was a mix of colors from red walls and beige ceilings to beige walls and beige ceilings and red carpeting everywhere.

Meanwhile, all of it happened to be nightmarishly lit by fluorescent lights above while blocking bright sunlight with blue blinds in front of large windows.

Can you imagine trying to take a decent portrait there?

Argh!

The portrait comes together

Fortunately, Chief Scott was a good sport and we quickly set up an impromptu portrait studio in his office since he was packing up and retiring later that week anyway. Shuffling some boxes aside, and opening the blinds brought in enough light to overpower the gross greenish hue from overhead fluorescent lights. It’s a cliche, but we did a few shots next to the United States flag.

At no point did his expression really vary even though, by now, Chief Scott actually seemed interested in getting a good portrait taken. You can kind of see the “how am I doing?” in his eyes in this photo. Settings were simple: 17-70mm lens, f3.5, 1/200″ at iso800 and eTTL flash for fill, bounced against a wall to camera left and flagged with a black foamie thing.

Finally, we decided to go with the City of Holyoke flag as more appropriate for a portrait background, since that was the city he watched over. I used a horizontal composition for balance between the city and the person entrusted with its safety for a decade and decided to just go with his no nonsense demeanor. A couple of quick “test photos” to dial in exposure and composition later, I told him that I was going to have him close his eyes, breathe in, exhale, and open his eyes, then take his portrait on a count of three. He nodded in understanding with a very slight smile, as if to say “Good, that’s simple. I can do this,” to himself.

With that, I gave Chief Scott his final set of directions, for real: “Okay, Chief, now close your eyes and take a deep breath…Great — remember on three — now exhale and open your eyes…”

The moment he opened his eyes, I hit the shutter and took this portrait, which ended up as the front page photo for Hampshire Life, a weekly magazine published by the Daily Hampshire Gazette, in April of 2011:

The final settings were: f4.0, 1/200″ at iso800 and eTTL fill flash bounced and flagged with a black foamie thing

The point

All told, I was originally there for fifteen minutes of Chief Scott’s time. As the photo assignment progressed, he ended up giving me about thirty minutes total and I did not want to take up more time than he was willing to give. The final portrait fell together in about five minutes.

As I thanked him for his time, he escorted me to the front door he told me that he was glad I was willing to take the extra time to work with him at getting a good portrait that he was happy with and captured what he felt was the totality of his career in a single image. I told him that it was my honor that he trusted me with the extra few minutes, because I could appreciate just how busy he was going to be, right up until the day he officially retired from the force.

He smiled, and said that he still wasn’t sure what he would do after his retirement ceremony. I told him that he could do whatever he wanted and he gave a half-laugh and said that was exactly what was scaring him. “Can you believe it? I’ve been such a hard ass for so long, but here I’m telling you how scared I actually am,” he said as we shook hands. “I’m glad I had some extra time.”

“Enjoy all the time that you have left, Chief.”

“…Thank you. I will. You too, son.”

A good portrait does not always need the best “pro level” camera, lenses, or accessories, nor does it need a studio filled with modifiers, strobes, backdrops, and an environment with perfectly controlled lighting.

It just takes the time to get to know the person in front of your lens, and making a connection with another human being who is feeling vulnerable while simultaneously trusting you to show them at their best.

It’s never easy but it is always worth the effort.

Want to see more of my photography?

My photography portfolio presents the best of my headshot, portrait, boudoir, nightlife event, and fire performer and flow artist photography.

Want to schedule a photography session?

If you’re nearby and would like to schedule a photo shoot together, please visit my contact page to send me a message so we can get started!

Posted in Photography
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posed portrait of a blonde female model with dark red lipstick and wearing a black cropped tank top and a female model with purple bangs, rave styled hair falls, nose jewelry, and dark red lipstick standing back to back in front of a brick and concrete wall - copyright adrian feliciano, all rights reserved - visit adrianfeliciano.com

Headshots and Portraits with Liz and Shayna

On-location Portraits with Speedlights

The other day I got together with Liz and Shayna for a headshot and street portrait photography session around Providence, Rhode Island with the intention of getting out from pandemic isolation and helping each other to have fun with good friends while driving around some shady areas of Providence in a creeper van. It’s been quite a while since our last photoshoot together, and none of us was happy about it.

This won’t be a particularly long blog-post about what went on behind-the-scenes while photographing models, or chin-stroking over which photography settings are best for on-location speedlight headshots, or even obsessing over my favorite in-camera and lighting techniques to achieve a certain look while shooting street portraits.

I just wanted to extend my gratitude and appreciation to Liz Arruda of Apogee Flow Toys and Shayna Rose over on Instagram as @nyxivy for their time, patience, creativity, and the energy they brought to our photoshoot this past weekend. I’ve been struggling with isolation because of people’s pandemic irresponsibility and to be around other folks who take it as seriously as I do, and wanted to find a way to hang out while making art happen has helped to cheer me up somewhat, and given me enough of the happy brain-chemicals that I don’t feel so isolated at the moment today.

So, to my friends, supporters, family, readers, and fans, thank you! This photographer is always grateful, and lucky, for your willingness to share space and time in my weird little corner of the void.

Remember: wash your hands, don’t touch your face, when indoors wear a mask, and get vaccinated as soon as you’re able. Take care of yourselves and each other.


Headshots with a single speedlight and black background

Outdoor headshots with direct on-camera flash

Outdoor natural light portraits

Street portraits with two speedlights

Street portraits with a single off camera speedlight

Shameless self-promotion

Want to see more of my photography?

My photography portfolio presents the best of my headshot, portrait, boudoir, nightlife event, and fire performer and flow artist photography.

Want to schedule a photography session?

If you’re nearby and would like to schedule a photo shoot together, please visit my contact page to send me a message so we can get started!


Credits

Models:

Liz Arruda – Apogee Flow Toys

Shayna Rose – @nyxivy

Liz Arruda’s Leggings:

Pattern copyright © Kevin Psychedelik

Buy them here (direct link).

Posted in Stupidity
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dramatic font used for word "Alert" followed by exclamation point in shadowed text superimposed over an American flag © adrianfeliciano.com

DMCA Violation Notification Email Received

Actually, this notification of a Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) violation is a scam

Odds are you’ve encountered a spam email recently.

It seems that scammers are finding as many ways possible into your inbox.

Around 5am EST, a scammer sent this particular one to me by way of my website’s contact-form:


Screenshot of a contact-form message claiming a Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) violation

Screenshot of a contact-form message claiming a Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) violation. The message contains a link that points to a google-drive-hosted file containing malware, presumably ransomware - fuck scammers - Adrianfeliciano.com

The message contains a link that points to a google-drive-hosted file containing javascript.

Presumably ransomware.

Definitely malware.

Fuck scammers.


There are a few things that made it stand out to me as fake, which I won’t get into a lot of detail here. Among other things, the email’s phrasing and voice are off, to me. Providing a consumer-grade link is also another huge red-flag. There are others; however, I don’t want to unnecessarily provide clues that inadvertently help to make the next one sound more convincing.

You can find numerous warnings (link to Brown University) and blog-posts (link to Trend Micro) on multiple websites (link to Techlicious) that discuss this particular Digital Millennium Copyright Act (link to Topic News) violation scam and are willing go into somewhat greater detail than I am, here.

TL; DR

Don’t fall for an email that looks like the one I received that claims you’ve violated the DMCA in some manner, and don’t click the link (link to Comparitech) contained within the email!

Notifications of DMCA violations are real. There are very specific ways to craft and send them so that they carry legal weight.

This ain’t it.


“adrianfeliciano.com Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) Copyright Violation Notice”

From: Domenico [email protected] ( 76.181.145.13 )

What is your website? (If any): slack.com

Message (Required):

Hello,

Your website or a website that your organization hosts is infringing on a copyright protected images owned by our company (slack Inc.).

Check out this report with the links to our images you used at adrianfeliciano.com and our earlier publications to obtain the evidence of our copyrights.

Download it now and check this out for yourself:

[Emphasis mine. I also added extra spaces so it is not a clickable link, but wanted to show what it looked like –Adrian]

http s://storage.googleapis. com/fk9mw3gl3-9ae9e.appspot. com/d/folders/0/public/i/vn39fdbssmvb3.htm l?f=639589534253210748

I believe you’ve intentionally infringed our legal rights under 17 USC Sec. 101 et seq. and could be liable for statutory damages of up to $110,000 as set forth in Section 504(c)(2) of the Digital millennium copyright act (DMCA) therein.

This letter is official notification. I demand the elimination of the infringing materials mentioned above. Please be aware as a service provider, the DMCA requires you to remove and deactivate access to the copyrighted content upon receipt of this letter. If you do not cease the use of the aforementioned copyrighted materials a law suit will be commenced against you.

I have a good self-belief that use of the copyrighted materials mentioned above as presumably violating is not permitted by the copyright owner, its agent, or the legislation.

I swear, under penalty of perjury, that the information in this letter is accurate and hereby affirm that I am certified to act on behalf of the proprietor of an exclusive and legal right that is allegedly violated.

Best regards,

Domenico Mansue
Legal Officer
slack, Inc.


slack.com

10/05/2021

Posted in Thoughts
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Afghanistan, Veterans, and OEF

To my Sisters and Brothers in Arms:

I never saw combat, but we are still family. No matter where you fall politically, remember that we served for reasons that are entirely our own.

Civilians and politicians will say that you fought for the military industrial complex, for American imperialism, for oil, for poppy seeds, for freedom, to “make the world safe for democracy,” for God, the Flag, mom, and apple pie, for duty, honor, or country.

Bullshit.

In the end, you fought for each other.

Civilians will never understand why we served or why you fought; however, our misanthropic family of misfits will.

If you’re having a difficult time with how quickly events in Afghanistan have unfolded, and the manner in which they unfolded, please consider reaching out to your dysfunctional family, your battle buddies, or to The Veterans Crisis Line.

Your mission in Afghanistan has ended. Your newest and most important mission is to heal, live, drive on, and, if you choose, to tell your story to the next generation of Americans.

I will always place the mission first.
I will never accept defeat.
I will never quit.
I will never leave a fallen comrade.

The Warrior Ethos
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outdoor photo of male fire performer "eating fire" using a torch - DO NOT ATTEMPT - PROFESSIONAL FIRE PERFORMER - copyright adrian feliciano, all rights reserved - book a fire portrait photoshoot at adrianfeliciano.com

Another Swampy Portrait Photography Session

My most recent photography adventure brought me to Voluntown, CT, this past weekend.

I was invited to a private birthday campout by Andrew, a fire-spinning buddy of mine, for some heashots and fire-performer photography action shots.

His location was wonderfully hidden away from everyone, on a swampy piece of family property. Between alien-looking, multi-colored WTF bugs, the brutal humidity, and the ever rising tide of COVID-19 infections, I think we were able to pull off a successful photoshoot and birthday celebration.

We started with a simple headshot portrait session.

(They look like high school yearbook photos!)

Andrew wanted updated headshot photos for his social media accounts, including some portraits and fire-spinning images showing him doing his thing. A headshot session in the swamps of Connecticut was a great opportunity to test out some updated flash-photography gear. I showed up with three Godox TT600 manual flashes, gelled and attached to lightstands with Godox Bowens-style mounts, and triggered them all with a Godox X2TC remote attached to my Canon dSLR. They worked flawlessly, and not needing a separate set of triggers for each flash helped to cut down on both set-up time and needing additional AA batteries to keep charged.

One thing to note about editing style is that I like very punchy color and minimal “Photoshopping.” It’s not my thing. I don’t aim for flawless skin, frequency-separation, digital airbrushing, or body-sculpting. I prefer to show people as naturally as I can even if it means occasionally wiping down shiny skin, caused by sweating in a humid environment, from time to time.

Afterwards, we shot some fire eating portraits

(Needless to say, Andrew is a trained fire-performer. Do not attempt to eat or play with fire, in any way, without the required training, safety equipment, and a crucial lack of common-sense or self-preservation. Don’t do it!)

The reason Andrew reached out for a portrait photography session together is that my specialty is fire performer photography, and we were able to put together some images without the pressure of photographing a fire spinning act in a live setting. We could take our time, toss ideas out to each other, I could light it how I wanted, and he could use whatever props he wanted to be photographed with.

Thankfully, the air was relatively still and whatever minimal breeze did happen consistently blew one direction and was barely a factor. There would be no way to safely eat fire or perform vapor-torch tricks in swirling air!

Andrew played around with other fire props

The rest of the photos we took were centered around the dedicated fire-circle Andrew set up, ringed by citronella torches. To light photos with the fire staff and dragon staff, I had the key-light gelled with CTO and set the camera to 3200K, or Tungsten white balance, in order to preserve the yellow-orange flames while simultaneously reducing their influence on over all color cast. A red-gelled flash was aimed to cross with the key light in order to add a touch of dramatic fill-lighting.

To photograph the fire sword and fire flail, I changed lenses and turned off the flashes in order to grab some action shots, lit only by the props themselves. It was obvious, to me, by this point, near the end of the photo session that 1) I was sorely out of practice with fire performer photography, and 2) I was getting very tired with a 2 hour drive back, so it was safest all around to call it a night.

I did have the option to camp out in Nightshade, but I thought it was best to let Andrew focus on his birthday celebration campout with his other friends, who were wonderfully accommodating of my COVID-19 concerns, and very much stayed a socially distant 6-10 feet away, even when enlisting some to help with other photo ideas, even if those ideas did not work out.

We also used an LED dragon-staff for some photos

Misc images and some outtakes

Some guy…

There’s normal flow-face, and then there’s I CAN SEE GOD flow-face…

One last thing

Something that every portrait photographer needs in their camera bag is good portrait banter.

I tend to ramble during a portrait session. For example, this is what I was saying while guiding Andrew’s head, face tilt, eyes, shoulder placement, and expression:

“Wait! Okay, now what the hell is that? What are you doing? All right, let’s try this. Something different. Ready? Great. Take the corners of your mouth, right? Okay, now try to touch your ears with them…”

Portrait photography banter

Andrew looked at me with the most incredulous “what the fuck is that supposed to mean??” expression and then found himself fighting the urge to smirk, as if he just ripped an uncomfortably moist fart, before he burst into laughter for a few seconds, and then quickly recomposed himself.

I may have said something completely bizarre but his eyes came alive in this photo, and that is all that mattered. It ended up becoming one of my favorite photos of the entire night.

Want to see more of my photography?

My photography portfolio presents the best of my headshot, portrait, boudoir, nightlife event, and fire performer and flow artist photography.

Want to schedule a photography session?

If you’re nearby and would like to schedule a photo shoot together, please visit my contact page to send me a message so we can get started!

Posted in Stupidity, Thoughts
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ACN, MLM, and Network Marketing

An article published by Politico about a lawsuit concerning that MAGAt rat’s endorsement of ACN scrolled by on my feed, today.

I remember when Pat, a friend since high school, tried to get me to “sell” for ACN in 2003. I wanted to learn more about what “network marketing” and “multi-level marketing” was before I would be willing to commit to it. For starters, you had to buy in for the “opportunity,” at $400ish for a kit.

It was quickly very obvious how fucked it was when it was explained that you needed to build your team (who also had to buy in), and your commissions were based on how many people you had per “leg” and they had in their “legs.”

A pyramid scheme.

The more my “friend” pushed me to decide to join the more resistant I became until I eventually refused and wanted nothing to do with someone that pushy and toxic over my own hesitation (there was a lot more history of toxic behavior that I overlooked up until that point over the years, but that was the final straw for me).

That turned to him trying to pull a wannabe tough-guy “sit down” chat while on a drive with me (dude was obsessed with The Sopranos) where he implied a threat to my life, and then eventually started leaving me threatening voice mails and comments on several Livejournal entries.

Friends since high-school, indeed.

Of course, IP addresses were recorded and they, the comments, and voice mails were forwarded to law enforcement. Naturally, nothing came of it but, needless to say, we are no longer friends and I found out earlier this year that he is recently deceased.

Lung cancer. He smoked like a chimney.

Rot In Pain, jerk off.

Posted in Behind the Scenes, Photography
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live performance image of Black woman wearing headphones at DJ decks with multicolored red, yellow, orange, and green background lighting effect at elements, a local Boston drum and bass weekly, held at The Phoenix Landing in Cambridge, MA - Photo © Adrian Feliciano, all rights reserved | Adrianfeliciano.com

Photography and an Eye on Electronic Dance Music

I was approached by Ryan Eisele a week or so ago about licensing a photo of Mizeyesis that I took while she performed her birthday set at elements, a weekly drum-and-bass event held at The Phoenix Landing in Cambridge, MA., for a pandemic interview series. The website is a newly launched community resource, and is centered on an electronic dance music community calendar.

I thought it was important to make sure that the licensed photo had the best possible edit I could create, compared to the earlier edit, so I made sure that the final version remained true to the original photo while bringing out greater detail in the lighting and LED screen in the background, highlighting (har har!) Mizeyesis’ hair, and balancing a touch more warmth with subtle vibrancy to her skin tones. The final version I sent out is high-resolution and un-compromised by Facebook’s brutal compression.

(I still didn’t use Photoshop to do it. 😀)

Thank you, Ryan! I am grateful and humbled by your outreach and am glad we could work something out that helps to support all three parties involved.

Posted in Thoughts
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a high-resolution image of the United States Declaration of Independence.

United States Declaration of Independence

In Congress, July 4, 1776

The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America

When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.–That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, –That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.–Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.

  • He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.
  • He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.
  • He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.
  • He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their public Records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.
  • He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.
  • He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected; whereby the Legislative powers, incapable of Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their exercise; the State remaining in the mean time exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.
  • He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.
  • He has obstructed the Administration of Justice, by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary powers.
  • He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone, for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.
  • He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harrass our people, and eat out their substance.
  • He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the Consent of our legislatures.
  • He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil power.
  • He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:
  • For Quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:
  • For protecting them, by a mock Trial, from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:
  • For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world:
  • For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:
  • For depriving us in many cases, of the benefits of Trial by Jury:
  • For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences
  • For abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighbouring Province, establishing therein an Arbitrary government, and enlarging its Boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these Colonies:
  • For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws, and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments:
  • For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.
  • He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us.
  • He has plundered our seas, ravaged our Coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.
  • He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty & perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.
  • He has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high Seas to bear Arms against their Country, to become the executioners of their friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands.
  • He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages, whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.

In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.

Nor have We been wanting in attentions to our Brittish brethren. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred to disavow these usurpations, which, would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence. They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace Friends.

We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States; that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.


Georgia

Button Gwinnett

Lyman Hall

George Walton

North Carolina

William Hooper

Joseph Hewes

John Penn

South Carolina

Edward Rutledge

Thomas Heyward, Jr.

Thomas Lynch, Jr.

Arthur Middleton

Massachusetts

John Hancock

Maryland

Samuel Chase

William Paca

Thomas Stone

Charles Carroll of Carrollton

Virginia

George Wythe

Richard Henry Lee

Thomas Jefferson

Benjamin Harrison

Thomas Nelson, Jr.

Francis Lightfoot Lee

Carter Braxton

Pennsylvania

Robert Morris

Benjamin Rush

Benjamin Franklin

John Morton

George Clymer

James Smith

George Taylor

James Wilson

George Ross

Delaware

Caesar Rodney

George Read

Thomas McKean

New York

William Floyd

Philip Livingston

Francis Lewis

Lewis Morris

New Jersey

Richard Stockton

John Witherspoon

Francis Hopkinson

John Hart

Abraham Clark

New Hampshire

Josiah Bartlett

William Whipple

Massachusetts

Samuel Adams

John Adams

Robert Treat Paine

Elbridge Gerry

Rhode Island

Stephen Hopkins

William Ellery

Connecticut

Roger Sherman

Samuel Huntington

William Williams

Oliver Wolcott

New Hampshire

Matthew Thornton

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My Photography and My Mental Health

Time for some mental health talk.

For starters, I can assure you that, no, I am not a danger to myself or others.

I was diagnosed with bipolar II a few years ago. It’s a combination of hypomania (mania-lite) and major depression (Depression, Xtreme Edition!). What made it very apparent was a combination of two factors. There was noticeable pattern in posts from my old Livejournal account where I would write about how great everything was, have lots of quick posts, and a flurry of activity for a month or so and then, suddenly, posts about how horrible I felt, how down I was, and how much I was withdrawing. There was never any “trigger” for it and no event that I could point to as the direct cause of the swing. It just happened. There’s about ten years of activity that got documented, and the up and down pattern is very distinct.

The second factor that came into play was my growing photo library. At the time I was using Apple’s Aperture to collect and organize photos. I think I was accidentally in a “Vew by Month” setting, where each month had the total number of images listed. Some months were really busy, with hundreds of images (sometimes thousands) and other months were drastically different with maybe a few dozen images at best, and zero images at worst.

What connected it all and made bipolar II an inescapable conclusion and diagnosis was realizing that the same exact pattern existed in my Livejournal account. For giggles, I compared the two side-by-side and the up and down pattern — the floods of activity followed by long periods of very little to no activity — lined up perfectly.

Photography has really been the one thing I could always fall back on through these ups and downs.

About 2-3 weeks ago, I noticed the hypomania was coming back. It’s the part of bipolar II where I suddenly look to any nearby observer as if I am suddenly back to feeling like “my old self” again. Sometimes, it feels like I am REALLY caffeinated. I grow more outgoing, talkative and animated as I talk, restless and wanting to do stuff. It doesn’t matter what, it’s just an intense urge to do something, anything.

It also never lasts long. The depressive swing came back a couple of days ago. There’s never a point where I can say I am at a baseline “normal,” that anything above it is “hypomanic” and anything below it is “depressive.” It’s just feeling highly caffeinated for about a month followed by a sudden and immediate drop to immensely depressed for months on end that gets interrupted a sudden spike in energy for about a month, and the cycle continues.

There is never a specific trigger.

Mix all that with cPTSD and a non-specific dissociative disorder (I am de-realized most of the day), and you get me: at best, a weirdly entertaining combination of Chidi and Jason Mendoza at best or an incredibly misanthropic shut-in who wants nothing to do with the world for months on end because People, at worst.

My brain is fun…