Jeremy Jay @ The Troubadour

Waking up in the morning and logging-on to find a email from a reputable publication asking if you want to photograph doesn’t happen every day but when it does it’s somewhat exciting. Daunting, but really exciting and pretty thrilling.

So, when I got an email from Plan B on Wednesday morning asking if I was interested in photographing Jeremy Jay at The Troubadour that night, the day has instantly got off to a pretty good start.  As well as photographing for the magazine it had the added bonus (hopefully…) of a byline something along the lines of ‘Words by Everett True, Photos by Justin Edwards’, something that I never would have imagined when I started reading Melody Maker back in my teens.  And of course ET set up ‘Careless Talk Costs Lives‘ with one of my favourite photographers, Steve Gullick, so it’s an awesome feeling to be asked to be involved with CTCL’s successor and take some photos.

As any Brisbane photographer will tell you, whilst news like this is all very exciting, just about the last place you’d want to photograph for a magazine for the first time would be The Troubadour.  On a good day you can get something usable, sometimes something quite good, but it’s still nowhere near being a photographer-friendly venue.   At it’s worst it’s a place that makes you want to set your camera on fire and throw it at a wall.

And of course despite the support acts (The Bell Divers and Guy Blackman) having good Troubadour lighting, Wednesday night became another ‘ISO1600, f.17 50mm lens, 1/25 second’-type of nights.  At least it would have had I brought my f1.7 50mm lens.  So instead most of the photos I took were in the region of ISO1600, f2.8, 1/13.  The main reason for the change in lighting between the supports and the headline act was that the two small spotlights were turned upwards,  so instead of pointing at the stage they pointed at the black ceiling a couple of inches above their position.  This meant that most of the light was coming from the single red light above the drummer and the two table lamps at the back of the stage.  It was pretty heartbreaking really.

7 Responses to “Jeremy Jay @ The Troubadour”

  1. Stephen says:

    Oh dear. Now I see what you were talking about. So much red everywhere! Really, I don’t understand the obsession that lighting people seem to have with red. Don’t they understand that it’s: a) fuck ugly b) kills detail?

    “On a good day you can get something usable, sometimes something quite good, but it’s still nowhere near being a photographer-friendly venue. At it’s worst it’s a place that makes you want to set your camera on fire and throw it at a wall.”

    This is gold, and so true. I bought my 50mm f1/4 specifically for the Troub … and the Step Inn. Unfortunately if there are a lot of ppl at the Troub and it’s crowded at the front, it can be a bit bloody tight with the 1.6 crop factor though. But at least it gives me a better chance of a usable shot.

  2. Justin says:

    It was a bit of a sparse crowd so that wasn’t an issue, just the darkness. Even though these are all at ISO1600 and 1/13 I still had to push them 1 – 1.5 stops in Photoshop…

    I have been looking at new cameras as I think i’ve reached the point where I need an upgrade. I’ve had my camera over 3 years and it had already been out a few months before I bought it. Plus it was the lower spec version of the Minolta 7D, which came out a year earlier in 2004. When you factor in that the 7D was announced in Feb 2004 you’re largely talking about 2003 technology and the world of digital cameras has moved on somewhat since then. I would say 99% of my photos are at ISO800 or lower as 1600 is largerly unusable. Even getting something that has usuable ISO3200 would be a big step forward.

  3. Stephen says:

    Your ISO1600 shots are still whole orders of magnitude better than those of a lot of other shooters with newer equipment. That second one — the close-up — still appears quite sharp at 500×375, for example. You must have super-steady hands because I’m not sure I could get that sort of crispness at such a low shutter speed.

  4. If they’re shot at 1/13 you must have been off the coffee…Wish I had that steady a hand. Now you’ll be able to use a flash, jump on stage, elbow people out of the way and dish out a big ‘F@#* you local street press maggot! I’m shooting for Plan B!’ Would love to see it.

  5. Justin says:

    I think I’ll save that for the day NME asks me to do some photos for them 😛

    I do most of my shots below 1/100, don’t know why but 1/80 just seems to be a real shutter speed sweet spot for me. I like a bit of blur in the hands of guitar players and 1/80 seems to be an good speed to get that but still get the rest of the shot sharp.

  6. Stephen says:

    I seem to get best results from 1/125. When I started shooting, I was doing a lot at 1/80 and 1/60 which gave me photos that were okay, but by no means super. Some motion blur is nice, but mostly I try to hunt down some character in the facial expression. Or compose a shot that has some sort of juxtaposition of musicians.

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