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THREE SONGS, NO FLASH

I photograph a lot of concerts, not for money or fame, but because it is something I truly enjoy. Photographing products, models, sports and landscapes are great, but nothing recharges my photographic batteries like the rush as the house lights go down and the stage lights go up.

When Scott asked if I was interested in being a guest blogger, it was the same day that I was invited by Steve Stevens to photograph him playing with Billy Idol at The House of Blues in Los Angeles. I thought that a look into shooting a concert along with a dash of the new Bridge CS4 thrown in would make for an interesting read. Something a little different.

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Concert photography takes practice and planning. The combination of changing lights, moving subjects and a very limited amount of time to get the shot makes concert photography one of the most rewarding and frustrating experiences a photographer can have. As with all type of photography, the best way to get better is to practice. Since it is not all that easy to get credentials to photograph bigger acts, start locally. Most cities have a couple of bars with live music that don’t mind if you come in and photograph, and usually have little if any restrictions. Most of the time, these venues will have horrible lighting and you will want to use a flash to get a good exposure.

I have two good reasons not to use a flash in these circumstances; images taken with a flash will look flat and boring. Good concert shots are about the energy coming off the stage and nothing will kill that quicker than the flash firing straight at the performer. The second reason is that if you ever get to shoot bigger acts in bigger venues, you will not be allowed to use a flash. If you are not used to pushing the ISO or slowing down the shutter-speed, but instead have relied on a flash to get the exposures you want, you will be in for a very frustrating shoot.
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BEFORE THE SHOW
I get a lot of questions about the camera and lenses I use to shoot concerts (more…)

â¦is San Diego’s based live concert photographer, and author of the Sony A700 Digital Field Guide (link), Alan Hess.

I first met Alan when I was doing some tutorials for the Lexar Pro Corner web site, and being a musician, I was instantly drawn to his concert photography (though he does a wide range of topics—not just concerts). Alan’s also a frequent commenter here on the blog, and is one of the first to jump in to answers questions and give advice to other readers, which I think says a lot about him.

He’s got a very cool blog post for tomorrow, and it goes in a totally different direction than previous Guest Bloggers, which is one of the things I enjoy most —that each brings their own style and ideas, so make sure you check back tomorrow. In the meantime, check out Alan’s blog (here’s the link), and be sure to visit his portfolios while you’re there.

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On Sunday I headed up to Chicago to shoot the Eagles/Bears NFL game at Soldier field (a few shots from the game are below). I’m totally beat (and sore, and tired), so I didn’t have time to do anything decent to them—I just ran them through Lightroom and well, here they are.

SPECS: All the shots were taken with a Nikon D700, at (are you ready for this), 4,000 ISO. I had to shoot at that high an ISO because of the stadium lights (it’s not nearly as bright as you’d think) to get my shutter speed up to at least 1/1000 of a second so I could freeze the action (though a number of times it dipped down to 1/800 of a second). But I gotta tell you—-the noise is so minimal that I am just astonished. In most cases, you have to blow it way, way up before you can really see any, and even then, you don’t really need to even run noise reduction software on it. It’s just sick (and I mean that in the good way). I used my new Nikon 200-400m f/4 VR lens for the long shots, and a Nikon 24-70mm f/2.8 for the wider shots.

You can see from the shot of me on the field below (photo by Bill Smith), I had a Think Tank gear belt on (not it’s official name), and gel knee pads (the greatest invention since Coke Zero. Thanks to Mike Olivella for turning me onto those). More about this gear, and my struggles in getting it there, tomorrow.

Anyway, I had a blast, and to top it all off the Bears won! My thanks to Mike McCaskey, and everyone in the Bears organization (they are a class act), and also to Bears team photographer Bill Smith. What a night! Come on, everybody—sing with me:

“Bear Down, Chicago Bears, make every play clear the way to victory. Bear down, Chicago Bears, put up a fight with a might so fearlessly. We’ll never forget the way you thrilled the nation, with your T-formation. Bear down, Chicago Bears, and let them know why you’re wearing the crown. You’re the pride and joy of Illinois, Chicago Bears, bear down!”


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I’ve been seeing a lot of comments on the blog this week that I wanted to address, but when I was talking about it to my buddy Matt Kloskowski (who’s getting similar comments on his blog), he suggested that we do a short video, rather than writing the 5,000 words it would take to address both the “Lightroom 2 vs. CS4” and my and Matt’s carefully orchestrated coverup of the problems some people have been having with Lightroom 2, so to round out this week, here’s a video clip, created exclusively for you guys, on both of these topics. View the video

Scott & Matt on Lightroom 2

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