Thursday, October 19, 2017

Live From The Stage: Ms. Lauryn Hill & Nas - Pt. 1

Ms. Lauryn Hill. Austin, TX.
Lauryn Hill crushing it at the Austin360 Amphitheater. Austin, TX.

La-la-la-laa...

It doesn't get much more legendary than this. Two absolute icons in the hip hop game came together for one of the biggest tours of the year. The incredible, powerful Ms. Lauryn Hill and one of hip hop's biggest influences, Nas, stopped through Austin to bless us with the light that only these two can bring. Witnessing either of these MCs perform is a rare sight itself. But seeing them both on one tour (that isn't a festival) is about as rare as any OG streetwear collaboration you could imagine. When I got news I would have this opportunity, I was absolutely floored.

OG-triple-OG, Nas.

Ether.
Legendary.

After the opening performers, the energy in the photo pit was rather palpable. I was pretty calm for the entire night right up until the lights began to dim and Nas was introduced. Like most hip hop for myself, I found Nas pretty late in my life. I grew up on heavy metal and rap. Hip hop was introduced to me toward the end of high school and is an entirely different genre that [I will argue with anyone] is not parallel with rap, regardless of any similarities. They're just different. Nas is a pioneer that helped define the genre for what is is--pure, raw, and intellectual. Not to say rap doesn't have individuals who approach the mic in a similar way, MCs are just a different breed in comparison to most rappers.

If hip hop should die before I wake...

Watching Nas perform was interesting for many reasons. I am always amazed to see who still has it as these musicians and I grow older. Nas hasn't lost a step. Albeit my first time seeing him live, it was easy to see that Nas has not lost his fire in age. He still has that grit. And he seems to have a lot of fun on stage while still delivering that punch fans are used to on wax. I knew this was a rare opportunity going in, so I made sure to make plenty of moments to witness this OG with my eyes rather than just through my lens. As a photographer in a photo pit, it's easy to get lost behind the viewfinder and miss the magic of a performance. I took a few moments to just watch Nas show us why he is a legend and why he is just so damn good on the mic.

Ms. Lauryn Hill's band gears up before she hit the stage.

The goddess, Ms. Lauryn Hill.
Enter Lauryn Hill.

A brand new challenge was presented to me prior to this show; although we were going to be given access to photograph the show, we had to photograph Ms. Hill specifically from the back of the house only, which meant I needed a telephoto lens. BRAND NEW territory for me. I'm used to street shooting more than anything, favoring wider lenses that force me to get closer to and interact with my subjects. As I began photographing more concerts on a professional level, I stayed rather close to the same focal lengths I have on the streets. So this was going to present new obstacles as I didn't have time to rent something and learn it; I had to figure out the nuances of a telephoto on-the-spot. Couple that with the nerves of photographing someone as historical as Lauryn Hill?--challenge accepted.

Great visual show.

Speechless.
Powerful L. Boogie. 

When I first heard Lauryn Hill, it was well after the Fugees and I'll be honest, I didn't even know who the Fugees were at the time. I just new this woman had an amazing voice with a raw MC delivery unmatched by any other. Lauryn Hill paved the way for many female MC's and is a pioneer in her own right because of her musical pursuits and accomplishments. Strong women like this help open up many doors in once male-dominated industries. Through years of putting in creative work, paying dues, and not putting up with anyone's shit, Ms. Lauryn Hill made more than a name for herself--she cemented herself in the rich canon of hip hop history.

As I watched and photographed her show on this night, I couldn't help but stop and realize how fortunate I was to finally catch her live, let alone with my camera. This is about as rare as it gets. I want to always remember how fortunate I am in and outside of this brand. Awake & Moving has given me so many opportunities that vary, and this one certainly stands out among many of them. I will be sharing another, more artistic set from this show next week.

Getting more and more impressed with bands' visual portions of their live shows.

Thank you, Ms. Hill.


Stay Creative,
BLUE731

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Photoshop Acquires Kyle T. Brushes with A Massive Update.

BLUE731. Austin, TX
Technically, still a WIP, but overall just about done.

In the summer of 2016 I purchased some pretty amazing digital brush sets for use in Photoshop from Kyle T. Webster, an award-winning illustrator and arguably the top gun in digital brush creators. Thanks to my buddy Sven who put me on game a while back, I was blown away with the tools I bought that are awesome in quality, super inexpensive, and also easy to use. A combination that doesn't happen often in any field. 

Fast forward to today where Adobe has acquired KyleBrush.com, bringing Kyle along as part of the Adobe team. This is HUUUUUGE! Working directly with Adobe is going to open up an entirely new realm of possibilities for Kyle and his digital brush creations and I am stoked to see where this goes. Adobe is always changing the game and expanding what we can do as creators, so I know this acquisition is going to be monumental. This new venture also includes these brushes as part of your Adobe CC subscription. You're welcome.

The image above was created using a hand drawn image I inked and then imported into Photoshop. From here I blocked some flat colors out and then laid my textures down through a mix of Kyle's brushes, some stuff from True Grit Texture Supply (a phenomenal set of tools for any digital artist), and some other Photoshop techniques I've learned and taught myself over the years. I found an old sticker of one of Ashley Wood's pieces that I used for inspiration in colors, trying to limit my color palette more than I normally do. This brought a new challenge to my digital colors and presented an experimental piece in the process. Mixing techniques and tools in search of harmony is no easy task, but I am happy how this one turned out. I created three colorways with a slight 3-D effect on the inks that can be seen on the Awake & Moving Instagram, @awakeandmoving. I want to add type to this as well, so we'll see how the finished piece pans out.

To all my digital creators, please check out these brushes once they start rolling out in Adobe CC, I guarantee you'll love them.


Stay Creative,
BLUE731.

Friday, September 29, 2017

Live From The Stage: BANKS at Emo's.

BANKS. Austin, TX.
BANKS commanding the crowd.

There's never a shortage of music here in Austin, TX. Damn near every musical act you follow has either played here or will before the end of the year lol. Small time, big time, Austin welcomes musicians from all over the world to showcase their talents to the most willing and appreciative crowds. I've had the pleasure of seeing so many great acts here over the past ten years or so. Thankfully, in the past two years (give or take), I've also been able to photograph many of them.

Goddess.

In 2014 I stumbled across someone who performs under the name BANKS. There are a lot of bands and singers I can easily recall the exact moment and place I was when I first heard them. With BANKS, I do not have that memory. Chalk it up to an aging or overworked mind, I simply have no idea how I found this amazing voice. But I do know the second I heard her sing I was hooked 100%.

This is what it feels like.

BANKS banging out the power of music through voice.

Her first record Alibi is an amazing piece of art. The deep tones in the production of her music compliment her moody vocals quite well. I often find myself in a trance when I have this record playing through my ears, transposed to quite the eclectic spaces of my mind. BANKS' music is very emotionally driven with a very powerful delivery that is sure to touch something inside if you are willing to let her in.

The Altar.

Warm Water.

BANKS performs at Emo's in Austin, TX.

BANKS played an amazing set to a crowd who sang along with every song. Her stage presence is just as strange and entrancing as her music videos are. This is a bold statement, but BANKS can easily be the Madonna of the current generation. I guess that may be left up to debate (and to the short attention spans we seem to have today). Nevertheless, BANKS delivers a solid performance on wax as well as on stage. This show was one in particular where I did not mind a flood of red light throughout the venue. This is often an extreme pain in the ass to photograph, but it was so reminiscent of Alibi that I just soaked it in and enjoyed the show. If you were there, you felt the power in these moments and if you weren't, I hope these images do it some justice.

BANKS performs with dancers.


Stay Creative,
BLUE731.

Thursday, September 28, 2017

Live From The Stage: Raekwon at Antone's.

Raekwon. Austin, TX.
Raekwon at Antone's in Downtown Austin. Photos courtesy of Jay Ybarra.

SUUUUPER BUMMED I missed this show. Raekwon is one of those MCs that has a commanding grip on the mic. His verses permeate with a mean growl in both tone and attitude. The Wu is certainly one of the most influential groups in all of hip hop history and any head out there knows this without question. The legendary Chef made his way into Austin this week at the famous Antone's Nightclub to bring some of that New York flavor to Texas. I wasn't feeling too well to make the show myself, so I can't say much about it, but thankfully I was able to send Jay out to cover this one for me and bring back some images for you all. Big shout out to the people at Antone's for letting Awkae & Moving come out and do our thing.

You may remember Jay from the Logic show he covered for this site last year. Jay continues to grow as a photographer and I am happy I can bring him on this site when I can. Be sure to check out his work here and thank him for capturing the legendary Rae. If you made the show, please be sure to blow up my feeds and tell me how awesome it was!

Sertified of Austin, TX.
Sertified warming the crowd. 

Magna Carda hyping the crowd.
Magna Carda continues to amp up the crowd at Antone's.

Wu Tang member Raekwon.

Hold my drink while I...nah, I got it.
Hold my drink while I...nah, I got it.

Only Built 4 Cuban Linx, son!
Legendary.

Wu Tang is for the children!


Stay Creative,
BLUE731.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Fractions.

 Republic Square. Austin, TX.
 Flock With Us. Austin, TX.

Flock With Us.


Stay Creative,
BLUE731.

Monday, September 18, 2017

Fractions.

Party people. Austin, TX.
Party time on 6th Street. Austin, TX.

Fun times on 6th Street. Just another Saturday night in Downtown Austin. Cheers!

Dude was NOT having it lol.
Drunken lust.

Security at Frost Tower.
Graveyard shift. 

Did that shirt brutha.

My homie Ethan at Voodoo Doughnuts.
 Yung Ethan. Put him on game on Voodoo.

Woooorlllddd Staaarrr.


Stay Creative,
BLUE731.

Friday, September 15, 2017

Fractions.

Barton Creek Greenbelt. Austin, TX.
Barton Creek Greenbelt. Austin, TX.


Stay Creative,
BLUE731.