Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Shooting a giant bed sheet (?)

Had a first in terms of show shooting on Tuesday night. Which will lead to a not so glamorous set of photos, but I feel the story needs to be told (hehe)

I was assigned to shoot Steven Wilson, the singer of Porcupine Tree and also of Blackfield (whom I shot a few months ago), at the Corona theatre. The Corona is a beautiful old style theatre, however the lighting in there can be pretty dim.

When the manager tells you that you have 6 songs (instead of the regular 3), take this with a grain of salt. There is usually a reason behind it.
When the manager also gives you a free ticket for the show, on top of the 6 song limit, get ready for an interesting night.

I get in the theatre and notice this huge semi-transparent curtain in front of the stage. There were some video projections on it. So I figured the curtain will be up, the music will start, we’ll see bits of the band behind the curtain, then the music will ramp up and the curtain will come crashing down, the lights will blast, the band will go insane on stage, everyone will go crazy in the audience (ok, I’ve seen too many rock shows).

Not the case. The show started low key, with the band behind the curtain...and they stayed there. I went to one of the corners of the stage, right where there was a bit of space beside the curtain, stuck my lens through and started getting some shots. I guess I wasn’t discreet enough as within 20 seconds, the manager came by, tapped me on the shoulder and said I couldn’t do that....and then he hung around nearby

So I waited. The first song was done, curtain still up. They start putting some backlight on the curtain, making shooting pretty pointless as the backlight gets diffused in the curtain and camera sensors really don’t like this.

The image below was shot through the curtain. It still has an interesting psychedelic feel to it, which was perfect for the song being played.

Second song starts, I decide that I need to get some shots, so I head to the back and get some wider shots with the curtain and see if I can find angles that work or incorporate the curtain element into the shot. For all I know, this is the best I’ll get and I still do have an editor to answer to. While I always give my 110% at every show, there are always times where the situation is that even your 110% won't net you a magazine worthy shot.

In the curtain shots, I was looking for angles that minimized the light diffusion and tried to find interesting shadows or images.

Second song done. I see the manager standing by the backstage door so I go ask if the curtain will ever come down. He tells me it will after song 4, during song 5. So my 6 song limit is pretty much 1 ½ songs. Haha.

The curtain did come down at the start of song 5, gave me a few shots, but with the floor being busy and no photo pit, you are somewhat limited in what you can do. I did the rest of song 5 on the floor and headed up for song 6 to get some higher up shots. The lighting for the rest of the show was pretty harsh and contrasty, with some washes on the stage. For the fans, it must of been a really visually interesting show. As a photographer, the lights are part of the show. As a photojournalist, they tell the story of the event.

All in all, an interesting and challenging evening. While at first I was a bit ticked, trying to get the best you can with what you have was actually fun.

Curtain up, I was able to get some better quality shots of Steven and his band. The first below will help show the backlight that was predominant during the show. This is similar lighting to the first image I posted in the blog entry, but without the curtain.

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