jackie venson at sound bites

jackie venson at sound bites

Jackie Venson at Sound Bites Grill

Sound Bites Grill has a new addition to the ‘Wall of Fame.’

Jackie Venson and her band were enshrined at the SBG Wall last night.

jackie venson artHere are Jackie Venson and her band in art form.

jackie venson and band at sound bites grillHere’s how it looks on the Wall. The autographs are done in advance on a white piece of paper with black Sharpie pen. I’ll show you all the elements used to create the final image below.

The ‘Wall of Fame’ image is created with photos captured during the live stage performance in the Sound Bites Show Lounge. Each performer is tracked on stage individually. Then they are extracted from the background and placed into a new environment. Texture, shadows, glows along with sharpening, blurring parts of the combined images are all combined in Adobe Photoshop to create the final art piece. Capturing the musicians during the live performance gives the final art image a stronger feeling of emotion created during the performance that a static image just doesn’t have.

elements for the final imageHere are the elements for the final image. Layers and Masks along with Blend Modes were utilized in creating the painterly look.

Images are currently being captured with the Lumix GH4 or Lumix GX8 cameras. I enjoy that the sensors have enough density range to allow a single capture of the harsh LED lighted scene. A slight adjustment in post production using Adobe Camera Raw (ACR) of bringing down the highlights and opening up the shadows makes for a well-exposed photo. In previous cameras due to the extreme light variations, there was a need to capture three images and blend them together to achieve the same result.

Yours in Creative Photography,        Bob

PS – Can’t wait until Jackie, Alán Uribe on bass/backvox and Rodney Hyder on drums come back for their next show at Sound Bites Grill

wall of fame – jackie venson

wall of fame – jackie venson

Sound Bites Grill Wall of Fame – Jackie Venson

Solid entertainer. Stage presence. Beautiful voice. Guitar licks that take you down with the blues our make you soar with riffs that just kicks a**! Add to that two super-pro backup musicians on bass and drums and the evening is made!

I normally don’t post images of performers from Sounds Bites Grill shows until I have the artwork completed for the ‘Wall of Fame.’ But, add to the fact I so enjoyed Jackie’s performance and she is so photogenic I had to slip a couple in for a ‘sneak peek.’

jackie venson at sound bites grillJackie Venson – Captured with Lumix GH4 and 35-100mm f2.8 Lumix Vario lens SOOC

jackie venson bandJackie with Alán Uribe on bass/backvox and Rodney Hyder on drums. Captured with the Lumix GX8 and the 12-35mm f2.8 Lumix Vario lens

jackie venson guitar player photoJackie breakin’ out of the blues.

If you want some more info on this talented artist check out Jackie’ website. Stand by for the art image coming soon.

Yours in Creative Photography,       Bob

PS – Can’t wait ’til Jackie comes back to Sedona! I wanna be in the house for that!



musician photography – black market trust

musician photography – black market trust

Photography of Musicians at Sound Bites Grill

The Black Market Trust

Photographing musicians during a live performance can be a bit of a challenge.

But I dig it!

If you follow this blog you know I am charged with creating the marketing images for bands who play at Sound Bites Grill in Sedona. Also, the ‘Wall of Fame’ is a record of performers who have graced the stage and is becoming a history of entertainment at the restaurant. To date, there are over eighty art pieces presented on the wall.

Here is the latest.

coates photo black market trustThe Black Market Trust Band

Bob Coates Photography photo Black Market TrustHere is the finished piece as presented on the ‘Wall of Fame.’

While the band is performing, I isolate each member and extract them from the scene and then blend them back together while creating the art piece for the wall. These were captured with the Lumix GX7 and the 35-100mm f2.8 Vario lens. After each member is placed on the new canvas layers of texture, drop shadows, and lighting effects are added to create depth and dimension.

While the musicians are on site, I gather their ‘message to the house’ and autographs for inclusion in the final art piece. These are signed in black Sharpie on white paper. After scanning, using Adobe Photoshop they are imported to the final image, sized and inverted to white text. The Blend Mode of the Layer is changed to Screen. This makes the inverted paper, which is now black disappear with no further selections necessary.

Images for the newspaper are also prepped. I shoot in color but do the prep to black and white for the best printing results. Many times a color image is just changed to greyscale by the paper and using NIK Silver FX Pro 2 makes for better contrast and tones. These were captured with the Lumix GH4 and the 12-35 f2.8 Vario lens.

coates photo black market trustBlack & White photo The Black Market Trust Band

black market trust photo by bob coates photographyColor image of the BMT Band

Yours in Creative Photography,      Bob


sunday photo/art quote – berra

sunday photo/art quote – berra

Sunday Photo/Art Quote – Yogi Berra

A major league baseball manager, Yogi Berra, was a font of excellent one-liners that more than stated the obvious.

The one I wish to share with you today can easily be applied to the arts. Yes, while it’s obvious, sometimes we need reminders of just that. And Yogi was a pro at that!

yogi berra quote“You can observe a lot by watching.”  Yogi Berra

The reason I bring this up today is the quote jumped out at me after returning from a guitar concert under the stars last night by Anthony Mazella at The Collective in Sedona. Anthony is a world class musician who creates magical times with his guitar.

As always I carry my camera. Lately, I’ve been trying to follow Yogi’s advice although I didn’t realize it was coming from him. I’ve been trying to be more aware of light. Paying attention to it. And trying to capture more of it in challenging situations.

I used the Lumix GX8 with a 35-100mm f2.8 Vario lens. While Anthony filled my head with his music, I kept myself aware of the changing light as the sun dropped below the horizon. The lights in the area began their illuminating dance through the venue. And I recorded.

Here are a few of those captures.

shadowplay photoShadow, color, composition, shape, and form were the things that caught my eye

silhouette photoA glance up and this silhouette appeared. I watched for a few moments, and the little girl was moving in and out of the frame I waited until she was moving out to capture this. The play of the complementary colors was a bonus.

anthony mazella gutarist at the collectiveOf course, the star of the show couldn’t be left out. The blue, purple and magenta lights added some serious color to the warm toned brickwork.

Had I not been aware and keeping my eyes peeled for an opportunity to see I might have missed these little vignettes of light and color. So remember Yogi’s advice, “You can observe a lot by watching.”

Yours in creative Photography,       Bob

PS – Here are 50 Yogisms gathered in an article by USA Today. It’s a fun read.






new esteban wall of fame image

new esteban wall of fame image

Wall of Fame Photo

There’s a new rendition of Esteban and company on the Wall of Fame at Sound Bites Grill in Sedona. It was time to get drummer Joe Morris in place as he’s been playing for the last two years. Some great music at the bottom of this post. You might want to click play on that as you read the rest of the info.

esteban at sound bites grill imageEsteban – Teresa Joy and drummer Joe Morris

Here’s the rundown on the creation of art for the SBG Wall of Fame. I start with images of the musicians captured during live performances. They are individually extracted from the scene and then reassembled into the final composition.

In Adobe Photoshop the pieces are composited while adding layers of texture in various Blend Modes. Drop Shadows add depth. The Inner Glow Mode is used to create lighting effects. Artists are asked to add messages and autographs in black Sharpie Marker. These are inverted and added to the image as it would be almost impossible to track down people after they have completed their gig.

My cameras of choice are either the Lumix GH4 or the GX8. Both cameras have the density range and frame rate to handle the LED stage lighting which can be tough as there is only pure color in the lights. My primary lens choice for getting the individual photos is the 35-100mm f2.8 Vario. The lens is equivalent to a 70-200mm full frame.

esteban on stage at sound bites grillFull stage at Sound Bites

For the entire group and stage publicity photos, I use the 12-35mm f2.8 Lumix Vario lens. It’s a solid wide angle zoom that teams up well with the 35-100mm.

Esteban – La Paloma Classical Guitar with Teresa Joy on violin

Yours in Creative Photography,      Bob








melanie added to wall of fame

melanie added to wall of fame

Sound Bites Grill adds Melanie to the Wall of Fame

Remember Woodstock?

Me either. A little before my time.

But I do remember I grew up with a lot of music from that era. One of the artists recently appeared at Sound Bites in Sedona, Arizona. Melanie put on a fun show with a reprise of her classic hits like New Key and Look What They Done to My Song along with some newer material. Follow up with Melanie’s website here for more music info, tour dates, and history.

One of the benefits of being the house photographer at SBG is I have the opportunity to attend a lot of shows and view lots of entertainment. The other bonus is Stephen and Michele appreciate the work I do and allow me to create the art pieces from the live performances.

melanie art piece by bob coates photographyMelanie from her live performance at Sound Bites.


Here’s the process. I photograph the performers through their show. Once images are downloaded, I cull the non-keepers. There can be quite a few of these due to blurred movement, changing lighting conditions, etc. Then I choose one that helps to tell the story, and I extract the performer from the image using Adobe Photoshop. I’ll open another file and import the extracted image. Then I’ll experiment with bringing in different textures as Layers. Changing the Blend Modes of the layers changes how they interact with the layers below. Layer Masks allow me to be selective about where changes will show. I have the artist sign their autograph and ‘message to the house’ in black marker on white paper. That is scanned and brought into the final art. That layer is inverted making the text white, and the Screen Mode is used to make the paper disappear.

melanie & family bob coates art imageMelanie & Family – Melanie has some incredibly talented progeny. They joined her on stage. Son Boe wails on the guitar. Daughter Jeordie is a singer/songwriter in her own right. (she’s playing some dates down the road in Phoenix in the next few days) All in all a great show.

You can see here that while the same general technique was used on both images, there is an entirely different ‘feel’ to the imagery. I enjoy the challenge of trying to do something a little different for all the art that hangs on the Wall of Fame. If you find yourself in Sedona stop by, grab some grub, and check out the ‘Wall’ in person.

Yours in Creative Photography,    Bob