Scorpion Child melt faces with Wilson, Mothership and Kadavar! (Missed Weresquatch & Gypsyhawk)

September 29, 2013  •  Leave a Comment

An unexpected surprise from Freeman Promotions gave me an opportunity to cover SCORPION CHILD and WILSON as well as some other killer bands.

I assembled my gear and headed down to Portland's Hawthorne Theatre.

(NOTE: Gear review and settings used following this entry)


WERESQUATCH opened the show with a fierceness that dug its nails into the walls of Hawthorne ripping this evening wide open! Unfortunately, I wasn't able to snap photos of these guys but I'll tell ya, that the crowd was bangn' their heads and holding fists high during this intense set!

Before WILSON stepped up I didn't know what to expect exactly. Yeah, I figured they would be killer but I couldn't imagine what I was about to witness...



WILSON exploded with a crushing sound that bellowed through the skulls of those to witness. Their sound was tight and reinforced by a stage performance like I've never seen before. The microphone must have been shaking in fear when front man Chad Nicefield took the stage. Chad belted out face altering vocals that left himself and all others in a frenzy. Beating his chest and pounding the air was not enough for Mr. Nicefield to convey WILSON'S message... it was time to get us involved! Chad leaped into the crowd, microphone in hand and proceeded to invite... NOOO... FORCE the crowd to chant with him. I had to dodge and juke as he stampeded through the crowd. Amazing! All this happening while the guitars of Jason Spencer and Kyle Landry shrieked in and out of our heads like unholy banshees. Throughout the night Matt Puhy on drums kept a fast thunderous beat, stripping layers of wood off, not only his sticks, but also from the foundations of the building. 

Bass player, James Lascu, is a master performer and from a photographers standpoint, a dream to shoot (w/ rear sync that is). He exudes great passion as he takes his gravity slaved stance and plucks the twisted metal fibers of his bass. This guy is truly amazing to watch on stage!


One more surprise from WILSON.

At one point later in their set, just when you thought you had time to take a breath, Chad Nicefield runs out into the audience beating the crap out of a marching band style bass drum. Pounding the drum as if he was leading an army to battle. Simply amazing to witness and something I will never forget.

This was my first time shooting WILSON and I was amazed by how different, unpredictable and energetic their show was. Without a doubt I will be seeing guys again.

As the dust settled and the pools of sweat dissipated, another wave of energy was swelling.

Just about center stage, out on the floor stood Aryn Jonathan Black front man of SCORPION CHILD. He was making some final observations of the stage so I felt it was a good time to introduce myself and express my excitement to shoot their set. After a few words Aryn slung his arm over my shoulder, said "Thank you very much! We love killer photos brother", shook my hand and disappeared into a back hallway.

The room went dark and silhouettes emerged on stage. Humming of the amps signaled that it was time for SCORPION CHILD!

After the first opening seconds of the show I knew there was no slowing down and that I needed to be ready for each second of action these guys were going to deliver. Aryn's vocal range is superb which delivers a powerful and honest rock 'n' roll vibe that melds seamlessly with the overall SCORPION CHILD sound. SCORPION CHILD performed as if they were in front of twenty thousand fans, delivering a top notch opening that quickly got the house riled.

Frequently, Aryn demonstrated his appreciation for his fans by reaching out and giving the front row some love.

SCORPION CHILD had such an outstanding stage performance and at times I couldn't decide which member to focus on. This was truly a blessing.

Tom "The Monk" Frank caught my attention with his smashing guitar playing style and hyper energetic stage antics. Tom's rhythm guitar support adds so much depth to the sound of SCORPION CHILD and he's simply fun to shoot. Spend some time shooting this dude because he is gonna deliver!

Christoper Jay Cowart, Lead Guitar for SCORPION CHILD, slid by hammering out some intricate and crunchy tunes. Get close to the front monitors when shooting him because often times he will get right up and personal for ya.

Bass player Shaun Diettrick Avants was an elusive one this evening. Hat riding low and rockn' like the best of them. I sneaked backstage, entering Shaun's corner of the world.

Shawn Paul Alvear's technical percussion skills is devastating with killer rolls and patterns. His transitions are methodical and true mastery.

Rippn' and shreddn', bangn' and simply rock 'n' rollin.  What more can you ask for? SCORPION CHILD pulled out ALL the stops this evening putting on a memorable and fantastic show!

I will see you again my friends.

GEAR, SETTINGS and some TIPS from the pit!

Lighting at the Hawthorne Theatre is not the best in the world for photography. Pair low light with quick movements of many performers and you get a very challenging situation. Fortunately I was allowed to use flash BUT if I wasn't able to, I would have utilized the amazing ISO performance of my Nikon D700! Now, my choice to use flash was not really because of the challenged lighting... it was because I wanted to use a rear-sync technique that drags the shutter creating some really cool motion effects.



As mentioned above, I shot this show using the Nikon D700 which is a fantastic full-frame camera with a solid, usable high ISO range! BUT, since tonight was going to be a rear-sync kind of night, the ISO range was insignificant.


My D700 was securely slung over my shoulder and across my body by the brilliant BLACK RAPID CARGO RS-5 strap! The strap is connected by a single point hitch that simply screws into the tripod mount. This style of mounting allows your camera to rest on your strong side hip (Right handed, right hip). There are two slider clamps that can "lock" the camera, keeping it from swinging freely as you are bending and moving about. The magnetic CARGO "flap" feature can efficiently hold an extra DSLR battery or mobile phone (Max phone size is something like an iPhone 5s.), several memory cards, business cards, drivers license and credit/debit cards. Well, thats what I used it for at least. So you can see how effective the cargo feature truly is. I do recommend adding the "Brad" mod to the RS-5. This is a piece that connects the front strap to the back strap keeping the shoulder pad from falling when you kneel down. A MUST HAVE! I honestly love this strap and overall BLACK RAPID produces KILLER gear.

TAMRON XR Di LD 28-75mm 2.8  

Tonight I wanted to try out a constant 2.8 zoom lens that doesn't get a lot of love. I'm talking about the SUPER affordable Tamron XR Di LD 28-75mm 2.8 zoom ($250-$300). People have said that it can keep up with the best of them so I had to give it a try. The lens is lightweight and has a good range for most situations. Focusing was quick and after snapping a few shots (f/5 ISO 500 rear-sync), I previewed them within the camera. After zooming the thumbnails I was AMAZED at the quality that this little POWERHOUSE produced! This lens performed excellent and the only negative thing about this lens is the fact that the lens "creeps" when pointed downward. "Creep" happens when the zoom mechanism cannot hold the weight of the lens and causes unintentional zooming. I found that, while my camera was at my side, the creep caused the lens to bang into things unexpectedly. Other than that, the TAMRON performed very well and if you are looking for a SUPER COST EFFECTIVE 2.8 zoom, this is a great choice.


Hey, why not try out this inexpensive ($170), third party speedlight?! Is it blasphemy NOT to use an SB series speedlight? Nahhh! I just had to know how this thing would handle the night, and to be quite honest, it did very well. The primary function was to supply enough light to capture motion for my slow-sync technique. I won't dive into all the features that the YN568EX comes equipped with but instead tell you how I used it. I extended the internal bounce card and I full throttled the power. I didn't want to blind the performers with direct flash so using the bounce card helped soften the blow. Overall the YONGNUO had plenty of power, was stable and recycled quickly. I was very pleased with the performance of this speedlight. The YN568EX would make for a great backup or simply an addition to a multi-speedlight arrangement.


I can't say enough GREAT THINGS about these rechargeable batteries! They are 2000 mAh little monsters that should be in everyone's bag! I came equipped with four sets of these bad boys and after several hours of flash (4+ hours), I still had juice in the last set. When fully charged, SANYO claims that they hold approx. 75% of their charge after 5 years! That's pretty amazing! Invest into some of these batteries and make sure you get a great quality battery charge/discharge unit such as the MAHA POWEREX MH-C800S. Its worth the investment.

TAMRAC M.A.S. (Modular Accessory System)

I like to stay as streamlined as possible with quick accessibility to critical gear. Backpacks are too cumbersome for me and they don't provide the access I need during quick fire events. I chose the TAMRAC M.A.S. system which is a padded belt setup with interchangeable zip cases that securely attach to the belt. The cases come in many different sizes to accommodate a variety of gear. Each mod can be placed anywhere on the belt. I used two cases during this show. One for an 80-200mm lens and another for my speedlight. Having gear at my side gave me a HUGE advantage over using a backpack. Holstered gear and camera slung to my side... MAN, I look like I'm ready for an assault. Hahahaha!


I shot this show almost entirely using the rear sync method or often called "dragging the shutter". What this does is, the moment you press the shutter, the camera exposes the sensor for a set duration (1/5th of a second) capturing motion. At the end of the exposure, the flash fires just before the shutter closes freezing the very last moment of action, yet still capturing the motion trail. So how do you setup your camera to do this? Its simple! To access this mode (On Many Nikon's) you hold down a button (Marked with a zigzag arrow) located on the left side of the camera body, below the pop up flash. While holding this button down roll the thumb wheel on the back of the camera until the top LCD screen displays "REAR". Now set your ISO to around 300-500 and drop your shutter to 1/5 to start. I used f/5 so I could get sharp, frozen images. Experiment with the shutter speed to increase or decrease the motion blur. I used a speedlight for this effect but you can also use the on board flash.


  • Obtaining photo passes can be tricky and takes a little bit of luck too. My advice is that requesting a photo pass will go a LONGGG way if you can offer value. "Value" can be in the form of representing your school newspaper, obtaining content for your website blog, representing a local venue or simply linking them to your portfolio and offering them royalty free photos. Band managers, TM's, Promoters, are way to busy to start making calls or emailing their peeps about a random person wanting to go into the photo pit. Show that you will be an asset to them. Another way is to get to know a local band, shoot for that band and have them put you down for a photo pass during future shows. Once you get your face known in these venues, ask the venue promoter if you can shoot for the house. Again show value! If they accept, this will open you up to all bands that come through that particular venue(s). Now lets say a medium sized to big named band comes through that venue and you snap amazing photos of them... well, now you can show value to that bands Manager/Promoter. Climb that ladder friend!
  • Respect, respect, RESPECT everyone in the house! Ask management what you can and cannot do. Compliment security for the hard work they are doing. Be polite to the fans and don't muscle yourself around. They may just save your ass in the pit one day... happened to me. While shooting a performer, if things are looking killer give them a thumbs up. They'll be stoked! People will want to help you if you show major respect.
  • If your going to shoot a band that you have never seen before, try and find out what they look like and what their names are before the show. You just might catch them in the back parking lot for a one on one photo. These are some of the best shots you can get.
  • Shoot A LOT. And try different settings. If you haven't done so already, force yourself to use MANUAL MODE. You'll have much better control over your images and plus you will feel a great sense of freedom!


Well, I think that's it for this entry. I'm super stoked to be a part of such an amazingly diverse industry. I've met so many cool people and captured some fantastic moments. I hope this blog was helpful to you and that your journey is an exciting and memorable experience. Feel free to contact me anytime with any questions you may have.

Coming soon... GWAR!


-Von Burke


No comments posted.

January February March April May June July August September (2) October (4) November (3) December
January February March April May June July August September (1) October November December
January February March April May June July August September October November December
January February March April May June July August September October November December
January February March April May June July August September October November December
January February March April May June July August September October November December
January February March April May June July August September October November December
January February March April May June July August September October November December
January February March April May June July August September October November December
January February March April May June July August September October November December
January February March April May June July August September October November December
January February March April May June July August September October November December