So I'm not big on doing concerts/live performances. I've shot maybe 3-4, but nothing too serious. One of the few I shot was Atlanta/Philly rapper Sugar Tongue Slim aka STS. It was a performance a couple years back at S.O.B's NY. I wasn't prepared when I shot that night. Had my Nikon D90 back then and ended up having only one lens on me - A 50mm 1.8. This made for a limited amount of close shots I could get from a distance. I got the chance to shoot one of Slim's performances again last night at a trendy spot in Philly called the Blockley. This time, I had my d800 and my 70-200mm 2.8. (the 50mm and a 24-70 were in the bag along with the d90 as well.) The 70-200 stayed on all night and pretty much gave me what I needed- A great, sharp, fast lens with enough focal range to get in for some decent close shots of the performance. In these low light situations, shooting wide open is obviously mandatory along with jacking iso up to pretty high levels. I shot all night at the same settings for the most part: Between 100th & 160th shutter speed, f2.8 and iso 6400. Even though the d800 is capable of producing pretty good, usable images at such high iso's, I still figured I'd be forced to do some noise reduction in post. To my surprise though, I didn't have to do anything. Whatever noise shows up works well for the whole concert / live performance thing anyway. I made a few exposure tweaks and some curves adjustments but that was it. All in all, definitely a better outing than my first.
This shot above is probably my favorite shot of the night. I cheated a bit with the final image. Originally, there were people in the crowd there bottom right. One of them was doing video and had an LED panel of light attached to the camera. There was also half of someone bottom left right down below Slim. When I saw the shot, I loved everything, but that bright, square light pretty much ruined the focus of the shot for me. So, I went in and just took the light...and of course the crowd members in front and 1 in back out of the image altogether. Worked pretty well I think. I thought for a moment that removing the crowd would essentially affect the image seeing as how an artist on stage with crowd below usually adds the flavor of the scene. Sometimes, gotta make decisions. Below, is the original shot. What are your thoughts?
Other than being an incredible wordsmith and master poet, much of Slim's appeal comes from his stage presence and personality. Definitely wanted to make sure I captured that in a few shots.
This last pic is actually one of the flyers promoting the event at the Blockley. The shot is from the first studio photo shoot I did with Slim. Also happens to be the same image that NPR used on their web-site when Slim's Illustrious album was named one of the top 50 albums of 2011.