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Patrick Cooper

Concert photography dilemma

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Posted (edited)

For so many years, I have dreamed of having the privilege of obtaining media passes for rock concerts of big name bands and solo artists like The Rolling Stones, U2, Sting etc. It still hasn't happened but I'm going to keep trying. With regards to equipment, I would be shooting with Panasonic mirrorless Micro 4/3 cameras. I don't have the luxury of owning a fast constant aperture zoom but Ive got some fast primes I could use. If I am successful at obtaining a media pass to a gig one day, I think I might take along three camera bodies - one fitted with a wide angle, one fitted with a standard lens and the third fitted with a short telephoto.

One of the kinds of images that I'm really looking forward to producing is a wide angle shot of a singer or guitarist up close from a low angle. Just looks so dramatic with loads of impact. My wide angle for M4/3 is a Samyang 12mm f2. That seems like a logical choice for concert photography but it has one major drawback – it flares really easily and horribly. Major flare problem. Once I even had pretty bad flares from it on an overcast day with a lens hood in place. Of course with a concert venue (up close to the stage) there are going to be heaps of lights shining into my lens and for the Samyang, that could end in disaster. Now, I have seen some concert photos that feature flare and it can look kind of cool and atmospheric. But my Samyang produces ugly flares – the kind I don't want. And I simply cannot afford another fast wide angle lens – they are crazy expensive.

So I'm considering something quite drastic. Instead of bringing along the Samyang on an M4/3 body, I'm actually thinking of bringing my Canon FD 24mm f2.8 mounted to a 35mm SLR. So two M4/3 bodies and one film SLR. And by coincidence, the 24mm on film will have roughly the same field of view as the Samyang 12mm on M4/3. I would be shooting on colour negative film and I admit one big benefit of that is that I can be pretty loose with exposures as compared to having to be precisely spot on as with slide film or digital. Though obviously, I will try my best to avoid underexposure as that is the worst thing you can do to neg film – those weak blacks look really yuck. I'll try and overexpose by about a stop or two.

I actually used to shoot in similar conditions back in the 90s on film. Not concerts as such but circuses. Though I did photograph a musician (Monique Brumby) in a small venue as well. And also a play once. During that period, I would shoot on 1000asa and 1600asa film for these kinds of events. Though I have a feeling that big rock concerts may be a little bit better illuminated than those other places I shot but I can't be sure.

Though here is the dilemma. If I'm shooting for a publication, they may want the images uploaded to social media. If that's the case, I'm not sure of when the deadline would be - whether that would be the same night as the concert or the day after. That would be fine for my digital images but obviously, it's going to take time to get the film developed and scanned. I don't suppose a rock music publication or media agency etc would be accommodating in having the digital images uploaded soonish but the film images uploaded at a later time? This is a potential issue that I'm struggling with.

Edited by Patrick Cooper

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Posted (edited)

Have you shot any concert pix as yet? Lets see some of what you produce. I feel your pain about passes. They wont give me a pass either. Nor for the pollical RNC DNC conventions here. I like concert photography, but access is an issue.

little-dicky-lucky-chops-2016-daniel-d-t

I mean the world is polluted with photogs. No shortage, so it is a hard nut to crack. If you got connections, then OK, but without connections things are not easy. Best bet is to shoot what you can and not pine away waiting for the big time. You may be waiting all your life, just press the button. If you hit the big time, OK and if you don't hit the big time, still OK...you are covered. And lens flare is OK as long as the photo is not ruined from flare.

Good luck!

Edited by Daniel D. Teoli Jr.

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Posted (edited)
On 7/19/2019 at 3:32 AM, Daniel D. Teoli Jr. said:

Have you shot any concert pix as yet?

 

Not quite. Ive only photographed musicians in small venues so far. Though I'm happy with how they've turned out. Among those artists was an Australian singer / songwriter Monique Brumby who has enjoyed some commercial success (shot on Fuji 1600asa colour negative film.) At the moment, I'm putting together a portfolio.

In the meantime, I'll keep photographing small artists and buskers.

On 7/19/2019 at 3:32 AM, Daniel D. Teoli Jr. said:

 

I mean the world is polluted with photogs. No shortage, so it is a hard nut to crack. If you got connections, then OK, but without connections things are not easy. 

Yep, no connections here. I'll contact some music publications and offer my services to them. I have contacted some in the past but didn't have any luck then.

On 7/19/2019 at 3:32 AM, Daniel D. Teoli Jr. said:

And lens flare is OK as long as the photo is not ruined from flare.

Good luck!

There's a fair chance that images would be ruined by flare if I used my Samyang 12mm. I once shot an interior with it with a window in view and the whole image was plagued with multiple flares all across the frame. It was unusable. 

Edited by Patrick Cooper

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Portfolio is basic. Keep at it. 

I started to make video portfolios or reviews of my photo projects. I used to just do standard still online portfolios. Video portfolios open up new display opportunities. Give it a try.

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