Your photos of concerts aren’t very good. They’re pretty bad. Let’s face it.
That’s okay, though. They may be bad photos but they’re your bad photos. You’ve sliced off a chunk of time and put it on display, grainy and blurry. Somehow, it’s still pretty awesome. You can still look at it and vicariously relive the moment.
In a world of multimedia saturation why in the world is photography relevant? When you can make and watch a video of anything with effects — slow motion, time lapse, 3D, HD — why does the still frame still have power?
If you watch high energy music videos/commercials you’ll notice that it’s a series of images being blasted on to your retinas. Attractive, sexy people dancing and having a good time in flashes a fraction of a second long.
Luckily, despite all of this hustle and bustle and near infinite amount of increasingly titillating media to consume, there’s something about photos that make people slow down and think. And feel.
(Wow, the leading in this WordPress theme I’m using is not very good. Sorry about that.)
Of course, video comes with overhead. The files are huge, they guzzle bandwidth, it takes time to watch, devices and video formats sometimes don’t match. They also require a lot of resources, equipment and editing time to produce.
But for a few hundred dollars you can get an impressive piece of very portable equipment.
What they don’t tell you when you buy a camera
The only thing, in my opinion, that’s missing is the flash/lighting. All of these fancy cameras come with convenient, if not powerful enough, pop up flashes. If the camera industry really wants to put a consumer level killer camera out, they’ll release a camera with a built in flash that encourages bouncing and flagging and whatever. (The problem is that bouncing light off of walls and ceilings and having it reach your subject requires a big bulb and power, which means $$$.) Or maybe the flash will be detachable and wirelessly triggered. Eh.
I spent two nights, Saturday and Tuesday, photographing Moonshine Society’s gigs. Great music, great presence. What an iconically photogenic group. Black Betty, for real.
I asked if it was okay if I showed up to pop some shots. I had photos from Lyle’s gigs on my Facebook wall for people to partake of, so you know. They turned out alright and act as currency. Building capital.
The first night at the Dogwood Tavern went well. I had room to operate and got a little obnoxious with it. Sitting on the floor in front of the band. Kneeling behind chairs. Flash going off all night. I get more bold as the night goes on and it clears out a little. The pics came out well.
I did manage to flash away the ambiance (ambience?) but in my defense it was really dark. Even the 50mm f1.4 couldn’t work it without severely increasing the ISO. I did some research later and how to better balance flash and ambient light.
They already have a lot of photos taken by friends and audience members on their Facebook wall. That made me curious. I mean, I had some good shots from Dogwood, modesty aside. But I don’t know. I always want to do something … more. I asked if there’s a certain side or facet of the group that they wanted captured. Was there anything missing from all of those photos?
Jenny had an answer for me. They didn’t have shots of them in a more formal setting. Their classy side. You know me. That got me thinking about a vision or concept.
219 – Taking good photos of people
Of course, I misplaced my Flashbender that night. I was nervous at first but then I remembered all the research I’ve done recently. Thanks to the blogs that I have blogrolled here.
Short version. Point the flash in the direction you want the light to come from. Turn that wall behind you or beside you into a huge soft light. I pointed the flash behind and kind of over my shoulder at the off-white walls behind me.
Except for the shot from the stairs where I pointed the camera up at the very high ceiling but used the flash’s built-in white card and diffuser. I also used the NEX 6 and experimented with the in-camera effects. You think differently, for example, when you’re shooting in high contrast black and white.
If you point your flash directly at people there’s only a slight chance that you’ll get something good. I mean, you’ll get a picture, sure. You’ll probably capture a fun time or a night out on the town. Something to upload to Facebook. But you won’t get something that feels like art.
Unless you’re going for a specific heavy, harsh, contrasty shadowed look I think the only time to directly flash people is in bright sunlight to fill in the shadows.
Otherwise, you’ve got to somehow make your light bigger and softer.
Thinking of it this way. There’s a big difference between caressing a beautiful face and slapping the ish out of it.