at the front lines

10 11 2012

doing a bit of work for a local metal band. it might sound glamourous but it really isn’t. think I must have gone deaf many years ago, when I used to shoot for the UK music papers. when you have to stand in front of a giant stack of speakers, whose output literally shakes everything loose, that experience lives on for several days. I don’t get that background hiss in my ears anymore. hearing protection was something that the older generation did. now I’m in that older generation and protection would be largely pointless. live and learn I suppose..

so the band I am working for, Gotsu Totsu Kotsu, tend to play in small live houses, where the audience is right in the band’s face. which is great for atmosphere and vibes, and communication. but not so great for shooting pictures. unlike the larger venues, there is no dedicated space for photographers, so it’s simply a case of finding a niche, and slotting yourself into it. the crowd dynamics in Japan though, are quite different to the West. although the basic format is the same, with a maelstrom of whirling bodies in the centre (moshpit), and a distribution of more static fans at the edges, Japanese fans are pretty polite and perfectly happy to let a 6′ guy with camera stand in front of them to shoot pictures.  unlike some gigs in the West where you may as well just pick a fight or spill someone’s pint, if you want a better position for shooting.

for this shoot I used a 10-17, 17-50, and  85mm lenses. basically you want to be changing lenses as little as possible, so each lens is mounted on a camera body, ready to use. I try to avoid using flash, because it does kill the atmosphere, so it’s a case of spotmetering the performer’s face, shooting wide open, with a fairly high iso, to increase the chances of getting a sharp picture. the bigger the event, usually you can count on better lighting. in this instance, there was almost no frontal lighting, and the event was held in a basement with a fairly low ceiling, Painted Black (what else?).

the 17-50mm lens that I used for this event, is made by Tamron, in Nikon AF mount, and has a useful F2.8 aperture. this is the non IS version, and apart from the hood continually detaching itself, I’ve been pleasantly surprised by it. shots from this show, for example, where spotlights are shining directly into camera, show no flare or significant contrast issues. it’s sharp at F2.8 and brilliant from F4 onwards. AF speed is hardly stunning, but it’s fine for my purposes.

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