I had the pleasure of shooting a concert of a good friend of mine in May. Lewis Knudsen made a huge step as a performing artist in 2013, deciding to focus on music full time. The concert below was shot at Cool Beans Coffee. They regularly have live music, both with concerts and also with open mic nights on Tuesdays. Many of the songs from the concert are on Lewis’ new album: Joy, Pain, Love, Songs (Bandcamp; iTunes). Back in the college days, he relied fairly heavily on digital instrumentation to supplement his music & song writing. These days, however, the focus is very much on the real thing. that extra mile goes a long way for great music. If you’re every in the Quad Cities area of Illinois/Iowa, you’ll want to give Lewis Knudsen band a look.
In a sense, relying on real instruments instead of the synthesizer is somewhat akin to a photographer choosing a prime lens over the zoom. I tend to stick with just a couple lenses when I’m shooting an event. And while that limits what I can do with my photography in terms of perspective, composition, and so forth. It also encourages creative thinking with those focal lengths. For this concert, I brought two bodies and four lenses (12mm, 35mm, 58mm, & 90mm in full frame equivalent angle of view).
On my A7, I shot with a Minolta MC 58mm f/1.2 which is a gorgeous classic normal lens from the 1970’s and the ultra-wide Voigtlander 12mm f/5.6—yes, f/5.6 is pushing it in terms of light in a dark venue, but even at ISO 25600, the wide angle of a 12mm can make for really striking images.
My other camera was my Olympus OM-D E-M5, with the Voigtlander 17.5mm f/.95 and the Olympus 45mm f/1.8—a very flexible combo.
- Noise isn’t always so bad.
- 58mm is an excellent focal length for concerts
- Saxophones look awesome in black & white.
- Good white balance in concert lighting is a constant challenge.
- The extreme exposure range of the bright lights to the dark shadows means you’re always at risk of color information at one end or the other.
- Jazz is a superb genre.