Mar 25, 2011

Why I hate (most) concert photography.

"Hang on, everyone... eyelash. Eyelash!"

Making fun of "Christian Metal" is like shooting loaves and fishes in a barrel (and it wouldn't exactly be Christian of me, would it?) But it occurred to me, the moment I clicked into Scott Kelby's site this morning, that I hate concert photography.

Strike that.
I couldn't care less about concert photography.

[Disclaimer: I love Scott Kelby, but I am not what you'd call a music-guy, and he is. The most-recent hit in my iTunes library is My Doorbell, by The White Stripes. As far as concerts go, my ears can't handle the punishment, and strobe lights really get on my nerves.]

But, it's actually not the photography itself that bugs me. Kelby's photos are sharp and colourful; they're composed and exposed perfectly; and they're post-processed with restraint. It's just that most of what I see is... well, the same old, same old*.

Now, you can't exactly direct these guys in the middle of a set. A concert photographer is not only at the mercy of the stage lighting and where they are forced to shoot from, they have to do the best with whatever the band is offering.

But seriously... I realize there are aficionados who see a unique awesomeness in every permutation of the done-to-death time-honoured Townshend / Cobain / Iggy Pop poses, but I don't. And, how 'bout this bass player? Sure hope he's being ironic.
"You smell that, dude?"

So can you blame the photographer? I'm definitely not a wildlife guy, but I love National Geographic. You can't change the lighting on a mountain ridge. Grizzly bears won't pose for you, no matter how much you pay them. Mind you, they don't feel compelled to windmill a salmon every time they spot a 600mm lens in the crowd, either.

For me, checking out a concert photo is much like greeting a party guest who's brought you the spinach-dip-in-the-hollowed-out-bread. You reflexively think, "Ah, cool," but you soon remember that this once-awesome party-favourite has kinda become a culinary Rickroll.

But here's the main reason I hate concert photography; and this is the hard part...

It reminds me—vividly—that there are people who would say the exact same thing about my portrait and wedding shots.

And many times they'd have a case.

Portraiture is a field that—more than ever—demands a fresh perspective, even when the client secretly wants the same old, same old... the safe stand-bys that they see in everybody else's portfolio.

So, memo to self: quit shooting the same old, same old. At least, quit shooting it all the time. Enjoy the freedom, take some chances. Shoot in the rain. Ask the groom to hang upside down from the swing-set. Get the bass player to fart. Whatever it takes.

*shot #2 is actually pretty cool, if you imagine he is being taken up to the Rapture.

Mar 22, 2011

Manual settings, but Auto-ISO?

I love the 135mm f/2, but it's depth-of-field is about 1 nanometer when it's wide open, plus it's pretty soft and the chromatic aberration is unforgivable. Also, I tend to blur shots with it, employing seemingly normal shutter-speeds. (Not a great combo when you're shooting action photos.)

Basically, I want Aperture Priority with a fail-safe shutter speed.

My solution? Set it to M, on a shutter speed of, say 1/500 at f/4. The DOF is narrow but forgiving, and it's sharp as hell. As the sun sets, I let the ISO figure itself out. No sweat.

Originals here.

Mar 17, 2011

At least you have your heath.

 I once went to a Ben and Jerry's and noticed they had a flavour called Heath Bar Crunch.

"How many people ask for Health Bar, " I asked.

"Everyone," she replied, without looking up.

Sure hope there's a plecebo effect in there somewhere.

Mar 16, 2011

The Doghouse, and how to get out.

If you find yourself in a dank shed with a squeaky-toy, chances are you messed up with your gal. Here's my tips on how to get out.

(As seen in Chill magazine, available wherever you buy Twist Shandy.)

Mar 1, 2011

Don't leave your camera unloved.

Somewhere out there, a guy has a Ferrari in his garage. It's been there for a month—unused—while I take the bus to work. This guy has other priorities, after all.

What a waste.

I mean, that would be like owning a D700 plus a couple grand worth of lenses... but waiting for the next family birthday to take photos with it.