The Audreys at The Zoo – No Chimping Allowed

Taasha Coates

– His computer’s off.
– Luke, you switched off your targeting computer. What’s wrong?
– Nothing. I’m all right

I recently made the point on the flickr concert photography forum that photographing concerts isn’t rocket science – most of what’s happening on stage – the lighting, where people stand, what they do – is completely out of your control and as long as you’ve got a basic understanding of how a camera works you’ll be fine.

However, according to the responses I’m wrong and it IS rocket science.

One of the replies made the point about how far off base I was in saying what I said and that I wouldn’t have said what I said if I was using manual settings and shooting Rancid on film. I’m not quite sure what their exact point was; although I’ve never seen Rancid I’m guessing it was about photographing an energetic punk band running all over the stage and getting well composed shots. Unless I’m missing something the fundamentals of photographing haven’t changed with the introduction of digital cameras and it still relies on the relationships between film speed, shutter speed and aperture. So there’s no real difference between photographing with manual settings on film or on digital other than the fact that you can’t instantly review the photos you’ve taken when using film.

So I’d thought I’d test myself out.

I decided that at my next gig I would set my camera to manual, turn off the playback on my LCD, stop myself from chimping and take a maximum of 72 shots (equivalent to 2 x 36 exposure films). I cheated somewhat as Rancid weren’t playing this weekend… but The Audreys were…

I had planned on using the 72 shots to take some of support act J. Walker from Machine Translations but as I got there late and he had already started playing and as everyone at the front was sat on the floor I decided not to. I probably should have reduced my quota down to 50 or 60 for The Audreys. In the end I found it quite hard to actually get through 72 shots of one band, even though I didn’t limit myself to only photographing the first three songs, but then managed to go over my quota in the encore… (For the encore the band played acoustically using a single microphone at the front of the stage to pick up all the sound. I would have probably taken more photos but was conscious of the sound of my shutter and the fact that the room needed to be very quiet for how the band was playing).

The Audreys

I normally don’t take that many photos when I shoot a gig; if it’s a three song rule then it’ll usually be 50 or so shots for a headline band, and probably don’t do a lot more than that on any single band when there are no restrictions in place. I can never fathom the photographers who’ll take 500 shots in a night of three bands; they can’t be thinking much about their shots and if they’re spending that much time with a camera in front of their faces they can’t be enjoying the gig. I think I did last year’s V Festival on about 500 shots…

And so to the results.

The original plan was to not look at the photos until I got back home and had downloaded them onto my computer, but I couldn’t resist having a peek when I was packing up my gear at the end of the night.

I was pretty happy with what I had come out with; well over half were ‘keepers’ and there are a maybe half a dozen or so that I really like. In the end I uploaded 30 photos to flickr.

Taasha Coates

The Audreys

Lyndon Gray

Tristan Goodall

I was blessed by a rare night of good lighting at The Zoo which helped a lot and meant that at ISO 800 and f2.8, I was mostly using shutter speeds of 1/80 or 1/100, although still having to go down to 1/30 when photographing towards the back of the stage.

Not reviewing what I had taken meant I had the usual closed eyes/half closed eyes photos that I normally would have deleted as I went. In addition to be reviewing the quality of photos, I think the other advantage in being able to look through your photos with digital is that you can keep a tab on how many photos you’ve got of each member of the band. Although I felt that I was focusing predominantly on Taasha I didn’t actually end up taking as many photos as I thought I had of her. I think I was holding back in anticipation of the perfect picture which would do her beauty justice. She really is stunningly beautiful, even before she starts singing.

However, I think the most annoying thing from the night was that sometimes my composition seemed to be slightly off. For example, in one song Taasha was doing some clapping and I managed to take four close up shots with great facial expressions but managed to miss the end of her fingers in each shot…

The band was completely awesome and you should check them out.

And Kate Miller-Heidke fans should note that this is how you sing beautifully, with true emotion and without the show-pony histrionics…

The best of the ‘keepers’ are on flickr.

3 Responses to “The Audreys at The Zoo – No Chimping Allowed”

  1. This quote: “I normally don’t take that many photos when I shoot a gig; if it’s a three song rule then it’ll usually be 50 or so shots for a headline band, and probably don’t do a lot more than that on any single band when there are no restrictions in place. I can never fathom the photographers who’ll take 500 shots in a night of three bands; they can’t be thinking much about their shots and if they’re spending that much time with a camera in front of their faces they can’t be enjoying the gig.”

    I don’t usually take as many shots either. I know photographers who take a zillion photos and then later brag on about it. At first it kind of made me feel uncomfortable (this is when I was starting out) I know it sounds strange, I think it’s because I was thinking, I was missing out on killer shots, or I was just lazy and didn’t try hard enough. I know now that’s not it. It’s just a matter of personal choice for everyone. I”m not the type to tell the next photographer next to me I took 1000+ images of the headlining act. I’m always trying improve my composition behind the camera, trying to be creative, try to always look out for action. When I first went into a proper pit with the 3 song rule applied, I freaked out and thought, crap, how am I going to get x amount of images. I basically freaked out, because I thought I wouldn’t be able to get hundreds of images and I”ll be left with 20 photos. Anyway, I thought I was the only person that doesn’t take a zillion images. I like reading your blog by the way.

  2. Justin says:

    Thanks Charlyn.

    I sometime still get that blind panic freakout, usually with the 3 song rule and when the lighting is really poor. In a way I’ve found it harder photographing for print, as opposed to web galleries, as general music magazines will generally only want a photo of the lead singer and so you end up spending far too much time on the singer to make sure that you get a usable shot. When the lighting is poor you’re always worried that you won’t get anything worth using which then leads to the panic and to spending even more of your 3 songs focusing on the singer. With web galleries you have the advantage that if you can get some good shots of the other members of the band you still have something to show. When I used to do more web gallery stuff I think I spread my time around a bit better so that I got some photos of each member of the band.

    Might see you at Cut Copy on Friday night.

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