Day in the life, Part Two...

Continued from part one.... "I usually start off around iso800 and work my way up (or down!) depending on the lighting, and slowly am learning how things go at a regular concert…" Is where we left it yesterday, talking about the regular day of a concert photographer - I guess what I should have called it was "Just one gig..."

So, we've had the support and the main act has just exploded onto the stage (not exploded ON the stage - we're not talking about Spinal Tap here!) and you're in Awe - I have been every time since I started - and then you focus and you're prepared and you know your gear back to front and you're away!... WHOA THERE, A couple of shots to start, check your exposure, watch your histogram... make sure it's somewhere close to the middle if possible - though, this isn't always (nearly never) the case as you always have spikes and troughs with concert lighting.. So just use it as a gauge, rather than a "damn, I buggered that up" because you probably haven't.

Take a few shots, check and double check... One thing I used to do was let the music "take me" right from the word go - not ideal!... you're shooting, forgetting to check your settings, just trusting that the lights haven't changed hugely since they came on - not always the case... You can need iso400 and then iso2500 between the verse and the chorus!.. Usually though, I just (as I said) wander up through iso800 and then usually end up at around 2000 and vary the light with my aperture or shutter speed - depending on what look I'm after. So, you've got your metering set to spot (this is what I use mostly - average can play tricks on your camera) and you meter the light off your subject, be it the lead singer / drummer / bass player / kazoo artist... You set your shutter / aperture and then frame your shot when you've got your focus lock. There are many thoughts on framing, and it's true - they change depending on what you're shooting for. If you're shooting for a magazine, a lot of the time they're going to want a certain shot and they're going to want space for captions or text, so you need to keep that in mind. Most of the time it's best to get your shots nailed and then muck about being arty...

Most of the time you could be happy if you get a portrait of the lead singer / guitarist / bass player etc.. A wide shot of the whole band.. A couple of shots of different (if you will) arty type stuff - the guitarist doing a back flip from the top of the speaker stack, the drum setting himself on fire - that sort of thing... And you're covered for press / magazines... If you're after a big poster for your wall - Think about what would look nice / what your client thinks would look nice - the space the image has to go - if there's branding to be involved, or if the shoot has a sponsor that's looking for branded shots (include the banners and stuff in your shots) An example I can use is a gig I shot at a little club last week, they've been given a Soundcraft mixing desk... I popped a couple of shots of the desk in their photos and they / Soundcraft really appreciated it - if nothing else, it creates good will and that, these days, is key!

This is (not) one of the shots of the desk that I sent them.

Soundcraft Si3

So - you've planned in your head what to shoot, you've gone in and shot it... (This is all *my* day, remember - you can do it differently)

Three songs, the security is upon you, ushering you out of the pit - MAKE SURE YOU HAVE ALL YOUR STUFF - I always find that after three songs I'm buzzing and excited and I rush to grab my thinkTank and get out to see my shots... If a lens has rolled out of your bag and is swimming in pre-thrown beer - you want to make sure that you take it home with you! Check around your bag, zip up and make for the door...

Home James! ...or IS IT? (That was my best Welsh impersonation)

Some times if you're shooting for press, a publication, an agency like Getty or some such nonsense, you're going to be asked to "upload from the gig" So, you shoot, you run to the nearest flat surface and post your images via ftp or web to the agency concerned and THEN you're free to go... If you're asked to do this, you either have to have your own 3G type card, or you need to organise with the venue (very few will have a press area) to use the press area / their wireless right after the gig. I am currently using a MiFi device - This is a little silver surfer from 3MobileBuzz that is just like a little wireless access point, but that is already connected to the internet. (I uploaded the images above and below to this post via it, and indeed am writing this in a cafe using the MiFi right now) If you're going to agree to upload from a venue - you need to make sure that everything works first and based on the performance of this MiFi device from 3 Mobile, I will be getting one. (I've just had a twenty minute conversation with a guy in the cafe about it and he's getting one, as well!) So, it not being the case that you have to upload from the gig, and you're not staying for the rest of the show to review or enjoy, you're off home and you're inserting your flash cards into the card reader like a man or woman possessed! Seeing what you've come away with is the best part - the screen on the back of your camera will tell you a lot, but not as much as your computer screen.

Lightroom Imports

Let's look at the process for the edit... As I have been talking about recently it's easy these days with the MegaPixel war in full swing to keep every shot and swiftly run out of drive space... So you have to be smart! I use Adobe Lightroom - and love it - I shoot RAW and have a 21MP camera which means that every image takes up about 20MB depending on the complexity of the image... When you start Lightroom and stick your CF card in the reader, the import utility pops up and asks you what you want to do (SEE ABOVE) I import to another location, my primary G-Raid, and I also Keyword and Delete crap at this point... Tick the "preview" button on the bottom of the import dialogue and you can see your images on the right of the screen... Delete the crap, I do, and then suck them off the card and into your primary working drive. (Make sure you back up to a second G-Raid - All drives die sometime)

You've got your images in Lightroom or your preferred edit / developing software, go through and flag the ones that make the cut and then prep them for delivery! - That's really it.

Things like the decision to shoot in RAW, the best format for delivering to press or a magazine will all be covered in upcoming topics.

All the best! See you tomorrow... (Well, Monday - Tomorrow is, after all, the day of rest!)