Category Archives: photography

Morty’s Comedy Joint Open Mic Quarterfinals – 7/5/2017

Last night I headed back to Morty’s Comedy Joint after a fairly long hiatus.  There were lots of new faces but the basic crux of the place hadn’t changed a bit.

First up, as is typical, you have your regulars, your “house comics.” You can tell these guys are polished, smooth and in their element. Their expressions reveal confidence and their sets are well rehearsed.  They are your comics of tomorrow and a very amusing tomorrow it will be.  Facial reactions range from “happy welcome” to “I just swallowed a bug” to “God, it’s me, Luke.  Please help me, I’ve just swallowed a bug.”


Next you have your up and coming comics.  They’re here for the sheer thrill of competition as they duke it out in a winner-take-all fight for comedy supremacy.  Of course there is the fact that the winner is determined by vote of the audience and the comics bring all their friends to pack the house but that’s neither here nor there. Never once has that mechanic of the competition swayed the outcome of one of these immortal battles of fisticuffs!

Here the expressions rage hard from “I don’t think that’s a schmedium, honey” to “yeah, I’m 19 and I’m already cooler than all y’all” to “who?  me?”  The bottom row I leave as an exercise to the reader.


The closers are your old pros.  One thing I love about the comedy scene is the equality of it all.  Too fat for other jobs?  Don’t play nice with others?  Too ugly for contact with the general public?  Fuck it, come on down!  Comedy folks love everybody.

Ryan Niemiller is hilarious and I can’t stop thinking about him trying to unbutton his shirt…  I feel bad for thinking about it… but I still can’t stop thinking about it.


Last but not least we’ve got the legendary Chris Bowers.  As rumor would have it he’s one of the absolute nicest guys around but he seems so put together and with-it that he’s too intimidating to talk to.  I’ve exchanged a few words with him and I felt like I was going to shake myself apart like a rusted out 72 Pinto running down the interstate on four bad tires.  I’m 6’4 and 250 pounds and the dude makes me feel like a little kid.


And there you have it, one night of great comedy at the city’s best venue for comedy. Your comedians for the night were:

Warmups:

  • Ryan McMannis (host)
  • Ray Hensley
  • Luke Basile
  • Logan Baert
  • Deon Curry

Contestants:

  • Lissa Sears
  • Riley Dismore
  • Cale Forbes
  • George White
  • Mike Williams
  • Grant Weber

Closers:

  • Ryan Niemiller
  • Chris Bowers

You can find full-size originals on our IndyLivePhotography website for this show and dozens of others.

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Filed under Indianapolis, Performance Photography

Photography Philosophy

It’s been my observation that photographers are an extremely varied bunch and that it’s difficult for any potential customer to know exactly what they’re getting when they look at partnering up with an artist.  Most people who go in search of photography services seem to think of the standard school pictures photographer who tells you to tilt your head in such and such a way and smile just -so- and only takes a picture once you’re positioned just how they want you.  I am not that sort of photographer.  In fact I might be more properly called a hunter than a photographer if that’s your standard of service.

Stoop Kids at Square Cat Records

As example I give you the shot to the right.  This photo of Stoop Kids in their Square Cat Vinyl show last November represents my hunter philosophy when it comes to shooting.  The entire show and their interaction with each other is summed up very neatly in this one photograph.  They are one of the most dynamic bands I’ve seen on stage and I was giddy to capture their souls.  Lead singer and bass player practically nose to nose while the saxophonist peaks out under the mic stand.

Philosophically, I truly believe that posed photography represents more of the photographer than of the subject.  When I shoot I want to capture the reality of what’s going on in a spontaneous and creative way.  Not cast my own thoughts and opinions on what should be onto the situation.  Your photos should be about you and who you are, not some aesthetic that some photographer prearranges for you.

Rev Peyton's Big Damn Band-Album Release Show at the HiFi 3-17-2Next we have Breezy Peyton of Reverend Peyton’s Big Damn Band from the HiFi in March of this year.  For this show we were packed in like sardines and couldn’t move without getting in the way of a lot of other people so we dutifully stood our ground just to the left of center stage for the whole show.  When I’m shooting, my absolute #1 priority is to make sure I’m not disturbing anyone else at the show or distracting from the entertainment.  If you’re lucky enough to get into a show then you’re a guest and you should act like one.  I refuse to use flash or supplemental lighting of any kind because frankly, flashes are annoying as hell.  If I can’t get a shot without getting in someone’s way then I don’t get the shot.  Simple as that.

I’m also not a fan of fancy post-processing.  There are some amazing tools out there that will let you make your photos look like just about anything.  But that is, frankly, a fraud.  The world is more than nice enough just as it is without a lot of augmentation.  Get the shot that’s there and if the light’s blue then bloody well make the picture blue.  It’s the photographer’s job to capture the moment, not create it out of whole cloth.

2016 Indiana State Fair Parkour DemoThe last point I’ll make is about capturing pivotal moments.  As example I give you this shot from last year’s Parkour demonstrations at the State Fair.  I love the expression of the guy who’s not literally walking up a wall.  This whole show was filled with amazing moments and you almost couldn’t click your shutter fast enough.  For me, this is the essence of “hunter photography”. Grabbing that perfect moment out of the air at exactly the right time and bottling it up for all to see is, in my mind, the whole point.

So that hopefully gives you a bit of a sense of my own personal philosophy on photography.  If you’d like to see more of my work please visit my site at RobSlaven.com or on Facebook (IndyLivePhotography | Rob Slaven Photography).

Contact me for photo ops in the Indianapolis and surrounding areas at IndyLivePhoto@gmail.com or in the comments section.

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Filed under Indiana, photography, Uncategorized

Misc Photos for 11-18-2012

As of late I’ve found myself rather uninspired.  At least part of this is late-season ennui but I also have come to feel that my “art” is rather unfocused.  (No pun intended.)  While other photographers tend to specialize, I just photograph absolutely anything from random people to found objects.  My camera has been accumulating photos for the past couple weeks that I haven’t bothered to upload.  Today I have a bit to show for the time that’s passed.

#1: Someone can probably tell me what this odd-looking bird is.

From Misc 11-18-2012

#2: I like the colors and lines here. The bird itself is of no great note but it does leave a trail in its environment.

From Misc 11-18-2012

#3: I spent a fair amount of time the other day trying to get action shots of ducks on the water. My eventual assessment was that I needed a longer lens. At 270mm I can just barely squeeze out a reasonable level of detail.

From Misc 11-18-2012

#4: Some shots I just love the romantic aspects of a road vanishing into the distance.

From Misc 11-18-2012

#5: In the category of odd found-objects, I give you this child’s toy long trapped in a retention pond.

From Misc 11-18-2012

#6: Similar to #4, I like the irony of a No Trespassing sign overrun by nature.

From Misc 11-18-2012

#7: In the city where I live there’s a 106th street and there’s a forgotten “Old 106th” street. The homes on Old 106th street seem to have been trapped in a timewarp since the traffic on them has declined substantially. One features this ancient flag and gate.

From Misc 11-18-2012

#8: Not far from #7, it seems that a house has moved and birds now make their homes in this forgotten mailbox.

From Misc 11-18-2012

#9: Some photos you just take because they seem artsy.

From Misc 11-18-2012

#10: After the trip down Old 106th street I came home and played with some macro shots.

From Misc 11-18-2012

#11: And took apart an old computer. Here are the pins for an old Pentium processor.

From Misc 11-18-2012

#12: The heatsink on the processor on an older video card.

From Misc 11-18-2012

#13: The internals of some HP hardware. No comment on the countries of origin.

From Misc 11-18-2012

#14: I also took apart an old hard drive. A very chiaroscuro experience.

From Misc 11-18-2012

#15: Oops. Sure hope I didn’t void the warranty.

From Misc 11-18-2012

Anyway, such is the two weeks or so since the last post.

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Filed under abstract photography, Art photography, Landscape photography, nature Photography, Philosophy, Urban Photography

Misc Photos for 11-5-2012

A rather random assortment of shots from yesterday.

#1

Mostly just enjoy the contrast here. Harsh metal versus soft rustling leaves.

#2

The birds are busily cleaning up the fall… whatever those are.

#3

Wandering in the forest we came upon an orange construction barrel. Mother nature has gone a bureaucratic.

#4

One finds the oddest litter in the forest.

#5

The find of the day was this compost bin full of jack-o-lanterns.

#6

This whole situation strikes me as rather iconic of all holidays. We feast, we celebrate, then we discard.

#7

Later in the day back in the apartment I had some items to photograph so there was a brief spate of random puttering.

And that ends thus ends the day. Now if only I’d written proper descriptions for all the photos I took and tagged them with proper keywords. So many layers of work here. Any volunteers?

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Filed under abstract photography, Indianapolis, nature Photography

Adventures in Shutterstock or “We’re sorry but your content was not accepted at this time”

Let’s begin with a bit of background. I’m a computer programmer by trade, Purdue Class of ’96 in Computer Science and I’m currently unemployed. Not the “OMG, if I don’t find a job soon I’m going to be homeless” sort of unemployed but more along the lines of, “I’m unemployed, maybe it’s time to reinvent myself and choose a whole new way of making a living” sort of unemployed. I realize that this is a massive luxury that most people don’t have so hold your boos of derision for the end. I get it that I’m among the 2% if not the 1%.

Since I was let go I’ve pondered rather fitfully the eternal question of “what to do next?” I’m endlessly amused by the written word so the idea of writing… something… occurs repeatedly but I’m absolutely clueless how to break into that vocation or anything related to it. I also tend to go out and photograph things (see, “things”… just the sort of wonderfully specific word that a writer would use. You can tell I’m the next Henry James can’t you?) and since photography is reasonably in demand I dipped my proverbial toe into the proverbial water of stock photography. The initial result of which is to verify that I don’t know a damn thing about stock photography.

I chose as my first point of submission Shutterstock which, after more careful perusal, appears to be a royal pain to get into. They require an initial portfolio of ten photos with detailed descriptions and to qualify you must have 7 of 10 photos “accepted” based on some rather nebulous set of criteria. Below find my ten submissions and Shutterstock’s response to them. As well as my own thoughts after having been rejected.

#1:

From 10-24-2012 West Lafayette, Indiana

This is the one photo they did find acceptable. It’s a fish-eye view of fall foliage from above and below in a Lafayette park. Personally I like it but it has a rather other-world quality that creeps me about a bit. I don’t consider it my best work but people seem to like it. I don’t claim to understand exactly why but it’s probably that lack of understanding that makes this at least a somewhat doomed prospect.

#2:

From Misc Weekend of 4/1/2012

This was rejected for “Poor framing, cropping, and/or overall image composition” just as all the images except for #10 were. Again, personally, I like this shot. It has an interesting perspective, the name tag is in the lower left but just as ghostly presence, lots of contrasting colors. The only thing that bugs me is the appearance of the trees on the right but they do offer an interesting counterpoint. Not quite seeing the argument against I suppose unless it’s just so damn cliche.

#3

From Random Trip around Purdue – 02-20-2012

Really this one is a demonstration of texture. Nothing magical really but the color here is just off the scale. I could be argued that this is junk but on the surface it seems a reasonable example.

#4

From 6-30-2012 Oregon Day 2 – Crater Lake

OK, I accept that this one is probably in the “holiday snaps” category. You had to be there. But Crater Lake is just so COOL! *shrug* I accept this rejection.

#5

From St Louis, Missouri

Alright, well I don’t care what anyone says, I like this picture, though maybe it’s one of those “you had to be there” shots too.

#6

From 03-19-2011

I could see plenty of arguments against this one too, I suppose…

#7

From Douglas Michigan, 7-23-2011 **

A bit cliche too perhaps. Basically just another #2 honestly.

#8

From 2012-01-08

I like this shot too but perhaps it’s too hard to tell what exactly is going on?

#9

From 6-2-2012 Kickapoo Nature Preserve

I can understand if this is rejected as it is just terribly depressing but it still manages to move me. Probably because it is just so idiotically depressing to think about it.

#10

From 7-6-2012 Day 8 – Mt St Helens – Astoria

And this last was rejected due to poor focus. I’m not sure I see that but I allow that it’s possible. The tree bits in the foreground aren’t happy, looking at it in retrospect.

So there you have it in a nutshell. At the least it’s clear that I have no idea how to chose what will sell in the realm of stock photos. It would seem this needs some detailed analysis that I just haven’t done yet. I’m trying to do something artistic while they just want… marketing. Ah well.

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Trip Day 9 – Astoria Oregon and Cannon Beach

Day 9 finds us in Astoria, Oregon, the land of superbly long bridges that seem to stretch on forever.

From 7-7-2012 Day 9 – Astoria, Oregon – Cannon Beach
From 7-7-2012 Day 9 – Astoria, Oregon – Cannon Beach
From 7-7-2012 Day 9 – Astoria, Oregon – Cannon Beach

It was on this day, for the first time in the trip really that I managed to pry myself out of bed relatively early and go walking to see what was to be seen. Sadly I didn’t catch the sunrise (it would have been magnificent) but I did find the world quietly waking up and quietly at its work.

From 7-7-2012 Day 9 – Astoria, Oregon – Cannon Beach

In these posts I tend to end up focusing on pictures of “things”: bridges, birds, people, but there are many times that I take a picture that doesn’t really have a noun tied to it. Something that just evokes a thought that’s difficult to enunciate to anyone else. During my morning walk I found this building with these little ‘no trespassing’ stencils on it in several places. It made me wonder what exactly it was that was being protected. Have they had problems with looters? What is the secret? The colors, vomit pink and diarrhea brown are fairly worthy of note too.

From 7-7-2012 Day 9 – Astoria, Oregon – Cannon Beach

The layout of the city is a bit ominous. Most of the downtown is a hundred feet lower in elevation than the further outskirts, making one realize that at some point in history the shoreline was probably UP THERE. But man as always scrambles ever closer to the water heedless of the fact that some day he may wake up with a fish as a neighbor.

From 7-7-2012 Day 9 – Astoria, Oregon – Cannon Beach

*sigh* Had I been here an hour earlier the sun would have come up right behind these behemoths.

From 7-7-2012 Day 9 – Astoria, Oregon – Cannon Beach

One of my fave splashes of color from the trip was this bit of greenery growing about 10 feet in the air along someone’s stairwell. Nature, give her ever so tiny a purchase will find a way to invade every nook and cranny.

From 7-7-2012 Day 9 – Astoria, Oregon – Cannon Beach

These patient pupils await the refuse of these fisherfolk.

From 7-7-2012 Day 9 – Astoria, Oregon – Cannon Beach

This gentleman was, I think, sketching the bridge. I like the perspective and almost mirage quality of the ship in the background.

From 7-7-2012 Day 9 – Astoria, Oregon – Cannon Beach

It’s unclear what these ships are actually doing. Hauling freight of some sort, one assumes? Regardless they’re rather amazing works of engineering.

From 7-7-2012 Day 9 – Astoria, Oregon – Cannon Beach

Finally having had enough of the lowlands we moved on to see Astoria Column. We almost ignored the thing entirely but in typical random fashion saw it on the map and decided it was worth a visit. As it turns out it’s where all the OTHER tourists were as well.

From 7-7-2012 Day 9 – Astoria, Oregon – Cannon Beach

Given the view it’s not surprising in retrospect.

From 7-7-2012 Day 9 – Astoria, Oregon – Cannon Beach

Vertigo anyone?

From 7-7-2012 Day 9 – Astoria, Oregon – Cannon Beach

Certainly saw a lot of these during the trip.

From 7-7-2012 Day 9 – Astoria, Oregon – Cannon Beach

Moving on from the column we went back to the beach for a bit of sandiness.

From 7-7-2012 Day 9 – Astoria, Oregon – Cannon Beach

It has perpetually amusing to me how everyone goes to landmarks and proceeds to take the same photo. These two strangers are taking photo type #1 at the beach.

From 7-7-2012 Day 9 – Astoria, Oregon – Cannon Beach

Haystack rock. I have to admit that after having seen so much else on this trip that this particular rock, so acclaimed, was rather an anti-climax.

From 7-7-2012 Day 9 – Astoria, Oregon – Cannon Beach

It was much more amusing to do some silhouettes against the shiny and briny sea.

The photographer:

From 7-7-2012 Day 9 – Astoria, Oregon – Cannon Beach

The seekers:

From 7-7-2012 Day 9 – Astoria, Oregon – Cannon Beach

The adventurers:

From 7-7-2012 Day 9 – Astoria, Oregon – Cannon Beach

The onlookers:

From 7-7-2012 Day 9 – Astoria, Oregon – Cannon Beach

The gymnast:

From 7-7-2012 Day 9 – Astoria, Oregon – Cannon Beach

And so ended the day in photos. Tomorrow we wrap up the trip on Mt. Hood.

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Filed under Landscape photography, Oregon

Trip Day 6 – Oregon Caverns

I often say that day 3 of a trip is the day when you finally really get the knack of things and settle down to properly look around you. Similarly, day 6 is the day when you say to yourself, “yeah, I could just stay here forever… I wonder if anyone would notice…?”

Day 6 found us at the Oregon National Caverns. If any environment is going to addle one’s photographic brain then it’ll be this one. The trip started with a long, twisting and vertiginous drive along the side of a mountain. When finally we arrived it seemed closely akin to the middle of a very verdant nowhere.

From 7-4-2012 Day 6 – Oregon Caverns – Portland Fireworks

Generally we try to stay as far away as possible from anything that might be called a tour but what with the locked gates and all over the cave entrance we had to follow around the park ranger. She was nice enough but she seemed in a terrible hurry which can tend to be rather annoying when you’re trying to look at all the things you came a long way to see.

From 7-4-2012 Day 6 – Oregon Caverns – Portland Fireworks

Once inside, as promised, the photography was rather daunting. With the ISO cranked up as far as one dares and the shutter speed as slow as one dares there is some odd color to be seen.

From 7-4-2012 Day 6 – Oregon Caverns – Portland Fireworks

And some ghostly detail as well.

From 7-4-2012 Day 6 – Oregon Caverns – Portland Fireworks

The standard cave formations that I recall from my 100 trips through caves as a child. If my real life “draperies” looked like this then I might send them for cleaning.

From 7-4-2012 Day 6 – Oregon Caverns – Portland Fireworks

And it’s almost as if someone left the pudding to overflow eons ago and didn’t clean it up.

From 7-4-2012 Day 6 – Oregon Caverns – Portland Fireworks

You can just barely make out some ancient graffiti that has been layered into the rock in the 100 years since it was originally scrawled here.

From 7-4-2012 Day 6 – Oregon Caverns – Portland Fireworks

The uppermost section of the cavern sports this rather Lovecraftian decor. I expected Cthulhu to crawl out from behind a wall at any second.

From 7-4-2012 Day 6 – Oregon Caverns – Portland Fireworks

When we exited the cave we were immediately greeted by a fawn that was VERY close to the cave entrance. In a panic I tried desperately to adjust my camera settings from “too dark to really take a picture” inside the cave to “blinding daylight” just outside it. I assumed the dear deer would be quickly on its way but as it turns out no panic was necessary since the creature seemed relatively tame.

From 7-4-2012 Day 6 – Oregon Caverns – Portland Fireworks

Dig those crazy eyelashes. They’re a mile long.

From 7-4-2012 Day 6 – Oregon Caverns – Portland Fireworks
From 7-4-2012 Day 6 – Oregon Caverns – Portland Fireworks

And so now with this end-view of our shy woodland Bambi, we put an end to day 6 in Oregon. Day 7 finds us in Downtown Portland with all its varied offerings.

From 7-4-2012 Day 6 – Oregon Caverns – Portland Fireworks

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Filed under nature Photography, Oregon