Shooting a rock concert: life as a shooting star

It has been a while since I wanted to write this piece. Actually since April 2011 when my wife and I went to see the premiere of the Montréal based electro rock band Alfa Rococo.

Most of my readers know that I am Frennch speaking from Montréal, Québec. What you may not know is that I love pretty much any French singing rock band, particularly those from Québec like Jean Leloup, Loco Locas, Ariane Moffatt, les Cowboys Fringants, Stefi Shock and many more.

When we were invited to the premiere of the new Alfa Rococo show, thanks to my “connected” wife, I had asked the organizers if I could bring my camera. And obviously I was, otherwise I would not be sharing this story!

The location, the historical art deco Theatre La Tulipe, is an old theatre built in 1913 that was converted into a venue for shows – cabaret style – with a raised floored scene and, in the back of the room, a balcony to accomodate, at the time, the local working class crowd.

At first, I did not know if I could use a flash. As with any other unknown situations, I decided to observe what other photographers were doing and quickly realized that flash was a big no-no at music events.

So up went the ISO. All the way to 3,200 on my Nikon D90. This was not the first I had to do so and I was quite comfortable to do it … with the help of Lightroom in post processing.

At the time, I did not have my Nikon 24-70mm f/2.8. Although I wish I did. Reviewing this lens is another of those posts that is sitting in my draft box.

The Nikon 18-200 VR II f/3.5-f/5.6 that I used closes down the aperture a bit too much for this dark setting. Looking back at my pictures, I think that I got lucky on a number of them. This one is shot at 1/80s, way too slow for my taste, but like I said, I got lucky.

Alfa Rococo Avril 2011- 193.jpg

Sometimes not as lucky, although I really like this pic.

Alfa Rococo Avril 2011- 106.jpg

The great thing about not using the flash is the texture of the stage lighting, with the streaks of light.

Alfa Rococo Avril 2011- 138.jpg

When you go to such intimate concerts, some incredible things can happen. We were four photographers, two I could make were commissioned by the artists and two of “us” just enthusiasts. The really cool thing was that the crowd allowed us to own the front and center of the stage. This allowed me (and the others) to take some awesome pictures.

This pic is not great shot, but I took it to show the vantage point that we as photographers had.

Alfa Rococo Avril 2011- 300.jpg

I am not saying that my pictures are all that great. However, I recognize that the point of view is something that I will not often have the opportunity have again anytime soon.

As I mentioned before, I knew that I could rely on the noise reduction features of Lightroom to compensate for the high ISO required to shoot in a dark environment with a slower lens that I had wished for.

Thanks to my buddy Jeff, I retouched a number of them (if not all). The objective of each retouch is what David duChemin writes about in “Vision and Voice, Refining Your Vision in Adobe Photoshop Lightroom”: Intention.

So, when I shot the pic, what was the intention, what did I really want to shoot? This is what Jeff and David duChemin are saying.

For example, this shot of the lead signer full of pride and humility at the all the love that the crowd is showing her. So, in this picture, I overexposed the face with the Lightroom brush tool.

Alfa Rococo Avril 2011- 327.jpg

Here, the lead guitarist is performing a solo, so again, the highlight is given to his face and his left hand.

Alfa Rococo Avril 2011- 138.jpg

Then there is cropping. As in this next picture” What caught me eye? The guitar riff! So, in this case, cropping. Reminds me of another pic I took and that I should have cropped more.

Alfa Rococo Avril 2011- 302.jpg

My LR skills are limited, so I concentrate on stuff that I master. Here again another highlight / darken job. In this shot, what bothered me was the stage lighting behind the lead singer. I did like however the chinese lanterns which were intentional present.

Alfa Rococo Avril 2011- 193.jpg

I also really the mix of taking pictures and dancing to great music. And I thought fitting that the latest hit single from Alfa Rococo titled “La vie comme un meteor” in French can be translated to “Life a shooting star”.

Call it a coincidence, but I felt that I was the one living my life as a (photo) shooting star!

Alfa Rococo Avril 2011- 66.jpg

Alfa Rococo Avril 2011- 87.jpg

Alfa Rococo Avril 2011- 124.jpg

Alfa Rococo Avril 2011- 221.jpg

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One Response to Shooting a rock concert: life as a shooting star

  1. Vincent F says:

    You have many great pics int hat shoot – good work!

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