Last weekend I was one of the photographers who photographed the 25th Anniversary San Diego Street Scene. Street Scene consisted of 45+ bands (48 bands on the schedule) 5 Stages over 2 nights. The event takes place in what is now called the East Village section of Downtown San Diego, right next to the Padres ballpark.

The doors opened each afternoon at 4pm and the event was supposed to end at midnight.


Before I get to the images and my views of what went right and what went horribly wrong, I need to talk about the weather. The official high for Friday, August 28, was 91 with the low being 70 and the average being in the 80’s. When you add to that a large group of people pushing and shoving to get to the front of the stage, (I mean photographers, not fans) the shooting conditions were some of the hottest I have experienced. At least there was plenty of cold $2 waters available. On a side note, to the group who decided as the day got hotter that they could just randomly raise the price of the water, nice going. Thanks for going for that extra buck. You really are learning something in school.

Saturday, the weather was not quite as hot with the high reaching 88 but the low was still above 70 and the average temperature was still about 80. The problem with Saturday night was that all that nice cold water from the first night was nowhere to be found. According to the vender who I purchased my nice hot water from, there was no ice. They kept waiting for the ice, but it never seemed to come. I might have come that night but I left at 8:30 for reasons I will get into a little later.


My gear for each night started with the same basic pieces but as you will see, the heat and shooting situation had me switch my full kit that I was using on Friday for a smaller kit that I used on Saturday.

The basics:

  • Main body: Nikon D700 with a MB-D10 battery pack with a EN-EL4a battery.
  • 2nd Body: Nikon D2X
  • Main lens: 70-200mm f/2.8
  • 2nd lens: 17-55mm f/2.8
  • 3rd lens: 85mm f/1.4

Extra gear, the stuff that didn’t make it in on Saturday

  • 4th lens: 20-35mm f/2.8
  • 50mm f/1.8
  • 16mm f/2.8
  • Sb800 flash

90% of the images were taken using the D700 with the 70-200mm lens.

Photo passes and media credentials.

For Street Scene I was shooting for PR PHOTOS an independent photographic press agency. The media and photo credentials were applied for and granted. I was told to go to the media check in and that my credential would be available after 2pm each day. Sounds pretty standard.

When I showed up on Friday afternoon to pick up my credentials the weirdness started, the first thing was that no one ever asked to see my ID. They had no idea who I was, I could have said anything. The press list looked to be about 5 pages long with 30 or so names per page. As I looked down the list I noticed that there were two different types of passes available, a media pass and a photo pass. The person behind the table checked the list and handed me a photo pass from a stack they had on the table. I never had to sign anything or agree to any rules or regulations. No-one mention if flash photography was frowned upon or how long we would have in the photo pit. I made my way into the venue and headed towards the first stage that had music playing.

Dirty Sweet

Local San Diego band Dirty Sweet kicked off the weekend. They were winners of three San Diego’s Music awards for Best Rock group and they really seemed to be having a good time.

I really like photographing guitar players. There is something just plain cool about the way it screams Rock & Roll. I made it to the stage after Dirty Sweet had already taken the stage but I had no problem getting in to the photo pit and it was relatively empty.

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All the images from Dirty Sweet were taken with the D700 and 70-200mm lens. All images were taken with a shutter speed of 1/320 of a second at an ISO 200 using apertures from f/2.8 to f/4.5

I left the photo pit after two songs and headed up to one of the smaller stages to see Carney.


Carney was playing on the Zarabanda Stage.  Seriously, who came up with these names, not Carney but Zarabanda, Fulano and Fulana as the three main stage names. Anyway, back to Carney. By the time I had managed to get to their stage they had already started their set but agin there was no problem getting into the photo pit and security was great.


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These guy rocked and I hope to see them again soon. Since they are opening for Gov’t Mule in San Diego later this month, I might just get that chance. I left the Zarabanda stage and made my way down to the Fulano stage to shoot Trombone Shorty and Orleans Ave.

Trombone Shorty

This is where the train started to come off the rails. When we (the group of photographers was steadily growing) arrived at the photo pit we were informed that the stage manager had decided that his stage would have no photographers. The frustrating part was that the guy who had decided that we should have no access was no where to be found.

So instead of shooting Trombone Shorty, I walked back to the media check in to ask why we had no access. My concern was that this was the same stage that the Black Eyed Peas were playing on later in the evening and without pit access there would be no photographs. After getting back to the media desk, it seemed that I wasn’t the first person to complain and the young woman at the desk said that they would check into the situation.

At this point I checked the handy little pocket guide to see who was playing where. Next up was Extra Golden on the Casbah stage.

End of part 1   —-  Stay tuned for part 2