Interview: Flowerbomb

Interviewing Flowerbomb was a real treat. The camaraderie of the band was contagious and conversation flowed freely. Best of all, Dan revealed his extensive musicianship while trying to explain the difference between the band’s recorded music and the stripped down set they had just played at Comet Ping Pong. [Note: Flowerbomb’s Nat is currently in England, so the band held two practices earlier that day to prepare for the unique show.] Interview has been edited for brevity.

The Paper: What are you currently listening to?

Dan: Japanese Breakfast and Third Eye Blind. Oh, and Sorority Noise. [Dan was wearing a TEB tank and declared them the greatest band of all time.]

Charles: Fall Out Boy, the new record.

Rachel: Margaret Glaspy and Angel Olsen.

The Paper: All great choices. How did you come up with the name Flowerbomb?

Rachel: We wanted something delicate, yet conjured destruction at the same time with the aim of destroying the norm of femininity.

The Paper: Why do you want to destroy that?

Rachel: It’s a product of personal experiences. I wanted to destroy the idea of femininity in society.

The Paper: On the Castathetic podcast, you mentioned telling inside jokes on tour. Would you like to share one?

Dan: Oh geeze, didn’t think that will ever be brought up again. We’re an incredibly funny band. We’ve known each other for years and when you’re in a relationship with four people, it’s natural that we will have inside jokes.

The Paper: What would be a good thing for a fan to throw on stage?
[Flowerbomb was taken aback a bit so I had to clarify that I meant it in a good way.]

Dan: Just coming to the show really.

Charles: I agree.

Rachel: Just for fans to come out to support us is enough.

The Paper: Spotify or Bandcamp?

Dan: Spotify is better for phone and more popular bands. Bandcamp is better for more local stuff or if I want to search a specific tag or genre.

Rachel: Bandcamp. The money goes directly to the artist.

Charles: Bandcamp is better for phone. [He gives a wry smile to Dan who expressed mock blasphemy in return.] When someone makes a purchase, the music is saved on their phone so they can play it whenever without streaming. Even when the artist takes the music down, you still keep it.

The Paper: A question for Rachel please. You used to book bands. Do you still do that?

Rachel: I am on a hiatus now. I have been doing it solo and it’a a lot of work. I want to make it more of a communal thing. Bring it more diversity.

The Paper: Thank you for sitting down with me.

Rachel: Thank you so much.

Flowerbomb plays on July 24 at DC9 with Bike Thiefs.

Chastity Belt @ Songbyrd Music House, 6/23/17

Admittedly, I am a Chastity Belt neophyte, though I have wanted to see them for a while now. The four piece, on tour to support their third record, I Used to Spend So Much Time Alone, have built a lot of hype so I figured so many people can’t be wrong. This sentiment was further confirmed Friday night when I ran into Ahmad. His taste and knowledge in bands is second to none. However, much like Animal Collective, another band that I decided to check out due to their popularity among the scene, I did not understand the appeal of forced celibacy.

There was nothing inherently bad about the sounds that pierced into the sold out crowd. In fact, the intricate manner in which all sixteen steel strings on stage intertwined with each other was a work of art. This is especially true of the guitars. Julia and Lydia strummed with astronomical precision, sending each vibration at all the right frequencies and intervals. Annie and Gretchen were not far behind, carving contagious cadence into space and time. Everything was moving in thundering tandem towards the promised land but we never arrived. I felt myself on the precipice of release but never going over.

It was very frustrating. I silently urged the band to speed up. They never did. Instead, they slowed down and one by one they dropped out until only Julia remained playing. Then she, too, trailed off like the sunset. At the conclusion, she took off her hat, tussled her hair then replaced it. The unconcerned, mundane manner of that action sparked something in me. There’s no rush. There might not even be a destination.

Simply focus on the present.

Lens Filter

I should have mentioned lens filters before. There are many types for different purposes. Mainly they either protect your precious lens or add function for a specific shot. You can read more about them at Photography Life.

On my 50mm f1.8, I have a Tiffen 49mm UV Filter. At one point, UV filters would protect the camera sensor from harmful UV rays but today all DSLRs have built in protection. The label simply persisted.

I chose a clear filter so it won’t have any effect on my photos and Tiffen is a reputable brand. That said, I got it primarily to protect my lens from dust, scratches, fingerprints and the like which is why I keep it on all the time. The Canon lens cap fits right over the filter so it’s completely painless. And it’s just $8! Be sure to pick the right size for your lens.

Sport, Landscape, Manual, Oh My!


ƒ/2 • 50.0 mm • 1/60 • ISO 3200

Now that I have shot several times in No Flash mode, I felt ready to explore the other options. For this outing, I tried Manual, Landscape and Sport. I chose these options because they do not fire flash by default. In hindsight, I should only have experimented with one new option since it was unclear which mode certain photos were taken in upon review. There were definitely good discoveries made though.

Sport mode is bleh. I tried this mode on two separate occasions and probably only took one photo combined. The camera is programmed to continously focus in this mode due to the expectation of action. It succeeds extraordinarily well at said task. It sensed changes in the subject’s distance constantly. This sounds great until I realized it spends too much time focusing, leaving scant time to shoot. It’s also rather noisy as it keeps focusing constantly which I found distracting.

Landscape mode performed slightly better. It focused fast enough for me to take photos at least! That said, they are not sharp at all. The slow shutter speed is highly prone to camera shake. It does succeed at leveling the depth of field. This mode definitely excels at its intended design of taking landscapes on a tripod. Concert photography, when one has to hand hold the camera, not so much. The first one turned out much better though.

ƒ/5.7 • 50.0 mm • 1/25 • ISO 3200

ƒ/5.7 • 50.0 mm • 1/13 • ISO 3200

Manual mode was a blast. I played with changing shutter speeds while holding ISO steady. This is really easy to do on the T6 via the main dial placed conveniently just before the shutter button. Click, scroll, focus, click and repeat. Vice versa is not as smooth because while there’s an ISO button, it’s placed next to the LCD screen. Next time.

ƒ/1.8 • 50.0 mm • 1/1000 • ISO 800

ƒ/1.8 • 50.0 mm • 1/400 • ISO 800

ƒ/1.8 • 50.0 mm • 1/100 • ISO 800

You can see that the first two photos are quiet sharp if rather dark. At 1/100, brightness improved but camera shake is visible. When I increased ISO to 1600, it turned out much better but pretty sure that’s due to a steadier hold.

ƒ/1.8 • 50.0 mm • 1/100 • ISO 1600

I also played with focus. The T6 has nine focus points and they work fairly well. Experience helps here. As I get more comfortable with my camera, I will learn how to point for the focus I seek. For now, I was able to switch the bokeh between foreground and back.

ƒ/1.8 • 50.0 mm • 1/250 • ISO 1600

ƒ/1.8 • 50.0 mm • 1/250 • ISO 1600

I accomplished the same regarding a soda can by mistake! I wonder if I would have been able to focus the drummer had I pointed higher.

ƒ/1.8 • 50.0 mm • 1/60 • ISO 400

ƒ/1.8 • 50.0 mm • 1/60 • ISO 320

Finally for comparison, a photo under No Flash mode which is essentially auto mode. I think I did well with my experiment!

ƒ/1.8 • 50.0 mm • 1/60 • ISO 1250

Girlpool, Vagabon @ Rock & Roll Hotel, 6/11/17

Sunday night marked a departure for Laetitia. She had just finished tour with Tegan and Sara the night before and I could sense the longing in her voice as she told us about the balloons the dynamic Canadian duo had on stage. Then she burst into a wide smile before continuing, “…but you’re here.”

That was a very cute way to get the sold out crowd cheering. I had seen Vagabon, Laetitia’s musical moniker, twice before. She was solo both times so I was pleasantly surprised that this time she brought a band. There’s an undeniable pleasure riding on a roaring bass line while soaking in shattering drum beats. It added much welcomed energy and a fuller dimension to the sound that further highlighted what we already knew. Laetitia’s vocals define euphoria.

“I am just a small fish,” she sang, except there’s nothing small about her voice. It’s not even powerful per se. It’s sheer raw power. But never wild. In fact, it’s actually very controlled given she would remove her ear plugs. “You’re a shark that hates everything.” When the beat fell off at the end, we were left with the sun. In this case, the sun was slightly bent over, head tilted up, forehead furrowed, eyes closed, sweat dripping, body trembling, throat contracting, and mouth open impossibly wide. The sun was one more fireball before going supernova. It doesn’t happen.

Power, true power, is maintaining control.

And just like that it was all over. I looked at my phone and was flabbergasted. Thirty minutes of bliss that felt like the blink of an eye. I can’t recall the last time I felt more wanting after a set. Not even with my favorite band. Thankfully, I had Girlpool to look forward to.

Keeping with the theme, the two piece grew to three with the addition of a drummer since I last saw them. This too was very much welcomed. They opened the set with “123,” like their new record Powerplant. I was reminded of the magic that is watching the music you love brought to life before you. And there is a lot to love between Cleo and Harmony. The latter literally tried making love to the former the night before. Apparently the band found themselves in possession of a mattress that kept deflating the entire night. However that did not stop Harmony from making out with Cleo thinking it was someone else. Given their chemistry outside of bed, I don’t blame her one bit.

The duet between the bass and guitar moves me every time in ways I neither understand nor want to end. Throw in the delicate, barely there vocals that are the trademark of the duo and I was transported somewhere above the clouds. Except this time it didn’t stop there. The deft drums marched me higher and higher until I was knocking on heaven’s door.

The crowd was knocking with me, with many waving their hands. Cleo, like an all-loving diety, graciously took time to shake hands with many in the front row and high fived a few in the second. She also decided to play three more songs shortly after announcing there were but two left. It epitomized the atmosphere of this beautiful night. Part of the magic of live music is sharing it with others.

Camera Bag

Don’t get one that indicates the contents.

Now that you have acquired a nice camera and lens, you want to protect your investment. Shopping for a camera bag is almost as fun as shopping for the equipment it holds thanks to the wide array of options, sizes and styles. There is no right or wrong here. Just find one that suits your needs and most importantly, get one that does not scream camera bag.

Professionals tend to carry something similar to a Tenba Messenger Bag which offers lots of space and utility for multiple bodies, lenses, flashes, tablet/laptop and more. I am not a professional so I chose a Bestek Canvas Shoulder Bag. It provides more than enough room for my T6 with the lens attached. There’s plenty of space left for battery, cable and such. The canvas material makes it water resistant so that’s a big plus.

The design emphasizes security over convenience due to a two layer system but I can still get in it pretty quickly. At $16 it was a great value. The padded compartment is removable as pictured below. The divider detaches via velcro so you can adjust the space to your desire. There’s actually a second divider which I have placed beneath my camera for more padding underneath.

In addition to the outside buckle/snap flap cover, the main compartment can be zippered close for a second layer of security. If I need to get to my camera quickly, I will leave the cover flap unfastened and zipper open so I can just flip away the cover and reach in.

The flap cover fastens with snap buttons or you can leaven them snapped on and use the buckles. There are pockets on both sides, a front zipper compartment and finally a somewhat hidden zipper pouch sewn to the back of the bag. I imagine this is good for valuables and cash if you’re traveling. As you can see, lots of room! Dimensions measure roughly 11 x 15 x 7 inches. The only downside is that it lacks a top handle which makes it slightly awkward to pick up.