Monthly Archives July 2019

Canon Explorer of Light David Bergman
Canon Explorer of Light David Bergman

Remote Cameras for Concert Photography2

As someone who has photographed over 1,000 concerts and teaches a series of live concert photography workshops, I’m often asked, “How do you keep it fresh?”

Bon Jovi in concert at the Phillips Arena in Atlanta, GA on April 15, 2010.
Bon Jovi in concert at the Phillips Arena in Atlanta, GA on April 15, 2010.

I toured with Bon Jovi for nearly a decade and just started traveling with country superstar Luke Combs earlier this year. On tour, it’s easy to make the same pictures over and over, so I need to challenge myself to make unique images every night. Something I do to help keep things fresh is use remote cameras.

I spent many years covering sporting events around the world – first for the Miami Herald and then for Sports Illustrated – and we would often set up remotes. Making this extra effort gives me two huge advantages over everyone else.

First, I can make images from places where it’s not physically possible to go, like behind the backboard at a basketball game or in the net during a hockey match. Capturing the action from those angles is pretty awesome, and it’s now commonplace to see television shots from those exact locations.

Second, by using multiple remotes, I can make pictures from many different angles at once. When I covered the NFL Draft, I had remotes all around Radio City Music Hall so I could get multiple shots of the first draft pic meeting up with the commissioner.

Matt Stafford, the first pick of the 2009 NFL Draft, is photographed with commissioner Roger Goodell from four different angles at the exact same time using multiple remote cameras.
Matt Stafford, the first pick of the 2009 NFL Draft, is photographed with commissioner Roger Goodell from four different angles at the exact same time using multiple remote cameras.

Many years ago, I started using remote cameras at concerts. Since I work for the bands, I’m allowed to go on stage to shoot. But I’m very respectful with that access and I pick my moments to go up there. I get the shot and get out. By putting a remote camera on stage, I can make those unique images from the band’s point of view all night long.

My favorite spot is on the drum kit, since it’s usually centered behind the singer. No matter where I am in the venue, I can trigger that camera and make pictures when they turn around and you can see the crowd behind them.

David Bergman's remote Canon 1Dx Mark II camera mounted in Bon Jovi drummer Tico Torres' drum kit during a show in Columbus, OH on March 18, 2017.
David Bergman’s remote Canon 1Dx Mark II camera mounted in Bon Jovi drummer Tico Torres’ drum kit during a show in Columbus, OH on March 18, 2017.

I will sometimes put a secondary remote in the lighting trusses above the stage. I have to set it up early in the morning when our crew is loading in, and I won’t have access to it until after the show. Luckily the battery on the Canon 1Dx Mark II camera easily lasts all day so I don’t have to worry about it dying before the show starts.

Luke Combs and fans are photographed using an overhead remote mounted in the lighting truss during a show in Evansville, IN on February 16, 2019.
Luke Combs and fans are photographed using an overhead remote mounted in the lighting truss during a show in Evansville, IN on February 16, 2019.

To attach the overhead remote, I use a Manfrotto Super Clamp and Magic Arm to attach to our trusses (with a safety cable of course!). For Bon Jovi, I used another Magic Arm to attach the camera onto one of the drummer’s mic stands. Luke’s dummer doesn’t have stands as his mics are clipped directly onto his kit, so I use a Platypod Max floor plate and Syrp ball head to position the camera on the riser. I taped some non-slip rubber material to the bottom of the plate to absorb some of the vibration and keep it from sliding around.

I fire my remotes using Pocket Wizard transceivers. I use the Pocket Wizard Plus IV on the bodies since it’s low profile, and I manually trigger it with a Pocket Wizard Plus III that hangs on the pass around my neck. Using the “long range” mode, I’ve triggered my cameras from the other end of a football stadium without any problems.

If I’m shooting on stage and want to trigger all cameras at the same time, I move the Wizard to the hot shoe on one of my handheld 1Dx2 bodies, and all the cameras will fire at the same time.

Luke Combs photographed from a remote camera on the drum kit during a show in Baton Rouge, LA on February 9, 2019.
Luke Combs photographed from a remote camera on the drum kit during a show in Baton Rouge, LA on February 9, 2019.

My remotes are all manual exposure because the spotlights often hit directly into the lens and that would throw off any automatic setting. With experience, I can usually guess the exposure and, shooting RAW, I have some latitude if I’m a bit under or over. I usually use autofocus since the subject moves around too much. Depending on how much I’m zoomed in, I’ll keep it on zone autofocus, which picks up my subject almost every time.

In general, shooting a concert with remotes is a numbers game. If I snap 1000 frames and get one or two awesome images, then I’m happy. Those are the only photos anyone will ever see.

By going above and beyond to make unique images, it’s more fun for me and keeps my clients (and the fans!) wanting more.

——

Canon Explorer of Light David Bergman is a New York based commercial photographer and photo educator who specializes in portraiture, music, and action. As the official tour photographer for Bon Jovi and Luke Combs, he has documented bands on stage and on the road in more than 30 countries, and shares his experience with photographers of all skill levels at his “Shoot From The Pit” live concert photography workshops. In addition to his other celebrity clients, Bergman has 13 Sports Illustrated covers to his credit and has photographed numerous Olympics, World Series’, Super Bowls, NBA, and NCAA Championships. His high-resolution GigaPan of President Obama’s first inaugural speech was viewed by over 30 million people, and he produced a 20,000 megapixel image at Yankee Stadium that was printed and displayed 130 feet wide. Bergman is an engaging and passionate public speaker and hosts the weekly web series, “Ask David Bergman” on the Adorama Instagram TV channel. He was a charter member of Apple’s prestigious Aperture Advisory Board, is on the design board for Think Tank Photo, and is an AdoramaPix Ambassador and Red River Pro. 

You can see more of David’s work at DavidBergman.net, and keep up with him on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.

Seriously, photography is good for you! But first of all, let me introduce myself—I’m Dave Williams and every Tuesday here at ScottKelby.com is #TravelTuesday with me instead of Scott (let’s be honest, he deserves a break on Tuesdays), and today, I want to tell you why I feel photography is so good for you!

First of all, photography is documenting life. Whether it’s your child growing up, your first dates, or simply selfies, photography is the ultimate tool when it comes to documenting things that may otherwise fade into history, preserving these precious moments and locking them in time. This is just one benefit; there are plenty more!

Photography relieves stress. When we turn our attention to photography we can make problems disappear. Focussing our thoughts on whatever’s happening through the viewfinder literally tunnels our mind and vision, removing (even momentarily) all the other distractions and focussing us on the light, the composition, and the moment. The moment could be a mountain, a waterfall, flowers, your pet dog—whatever’s happening down that narrow viewfinder can magically block everything else out.

Through focussing our attention, photography makes it possible to see things we may otherwise have missed. Furthermore, it makes beautiful sights last longer. I love to shoot sunrises, but they undoubtedly feel as if they’re over just when they’ve begun. Photography immortalises every single sunrise we capture, showing off the interaction of the cool and warm tones of the days beginning, and they allow us to look at the specific elements of a scene after we’ve taken in the overall view.

In terms of our growth and development, photography skills develop over time and this improvement boosts our self-esteem. Our skills getting better, our photos receiving feedback online from friends and family, it gives us pride and that’s good for us. The creativity involved receives this positive and constructive feedback, and this gives us new ideas in other walks of life.  

Photography is good for us, as well as our profession, so it’s only going to be a good thing to explore other areas of photography and to use photography as a tool to alleviate stress and explore our creativity. Trust me.

Much love

Dave

My friends Peter Treadway, and Dave “Travel Tuesdays with Dave” Williams, and me, after a day of shooting around London a few years ago. Funny thing: I just went shooting with Peter and Dave in London last week (on different days), and at one point we wound up at this very same place.

I talk to a lot of photographers when I’m out on the road with my seminar, and I sometimes talk to folks who tell me that one of the things they love best about photography (often landscape photography in particular) is that it gives them an opportunity to be alone in a quiet setting. They love the chance to focus on something that allows them to block the rest of the world out. I totally get it. There are times I love tinkering with things; from my cameras to my guitars, where it’s just me and my gear and it’s quiet (well, it is until I turn on my amp), and there’s definitely a quiet satisfaction that comes from it all. But to really enjoy photography at that next level, you’ve got to try shooting with a friend, or even a few friends.

One of the things I love about golf…

…is that it’s a social sport. Perhaps the most social sport of all, because you generally spend more time riding in the cart, waiting on the golfers ahead of you to finish, and chatting with your buddies (about golf, about golf gear, about life and family) than you do actually hitting the ball. I love that about golf.

Photography is the same way in many cases.

When you press the shutter, the photography part happens very quickly — often in just a thousandth of a second — but walking with a friend doing street photography, or getting up early with a buddy to shoot sunrise, or hiking out to a location — those are times that are so special to me. Photography is a social sport.

And like golf…

Photography is something you can still continue to do late in life. A lot of sports you have to hang up at some age because the physical demand of sports like Tennis or Basketball or football become too much, but photography is like golf in that you can do it late into life and still enjoy it as much (you just start searching for things on Google like “light camera body” and “Lighter lenses.”


That’s Peter, Dave Clayton, me and my son Jordan in the same place as the shot at the top, but taken just a week or so ago.

It’s Why Photo Walks surprise people

Each year I host a Worldwide Photo Walk™ and one of the comments I hear most often is how surprised people are that just walking around with a group of folks is as much fun as it is. The social aspect of photography is huge, and once you go on a photo walk with other people, you get it. Photography is meant to be shared; visually and socially.

Today, I’m encouraging you to go out shooting with a friend. Even if you’re one of those folks who enjoy the solitude of shooting alone, I hope you’ll call up a friend and make a time to go shooting together.

You’ll help each other; you’ll laugh, you’ll share your images, and you’ll share each other’s company. Try it once, and you might be surprised how much you enjoy it, and the fact that it gets you out shooting more often. It’s like exercising with a friend, or running with a friend, or even dining out with a friend. Taking photos with a friend can be incredibly satisfying and fun and, it can even give your photography a boost. Why not invite a friend to go shooting this week?

Here’s wishing you lots of friends to go shooting with, and many great times and images from the experience. :)

-Scott

P.S. If you live in Boston, Chicago, Philadelphia or Detroit, hundreds of photographers are all coming together on one day in each city for my “Ultimate Photography Crash Course.” Come on out and spend the day with a few hundred of your potential new shooting buddies. Tickets and details here.


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