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Anatomy of a Rock Shoot – Wind Up Toy at the Havre de Grace Opera House (Part I)

Nov 4, 2017

I was excited to be asked to shoot a rock performance at our Havre de Grace Opera House. It's a newly restored nineteenth century venue that seats around 275 pretty comfortably. The group: Wind Up Toy, a local Alice Cooper tribute group that, to be frank, puts on the best and most enjoyable show I've seen in a long time. Unfortunately Nan wasn't able to come along, but certainly will make me take her to their next show, if and when we can find one. I highly recommend it.

     Wind Up Toy gives as much of a visual performance as a musical event – both excellent. It is so colorful, expecially with the swirling colored lights, that I was almost tempted to add a little color to this posting. But the color in the show, as great as it was because it was constantly shifting, actually made for not the best color stills – in one case I wound up with an otherwise perfect image except for the extremely green face on my subject. So, I'll stick to B&W.

     First a few of the images – and a link to the rest – and then my shoot-notes. Then at the bottom  from the concert. I hope someone finds them interesting.


Shoot Notes:

Venue: There was no balcony area to get into. And the two side aisles offered not-so-great angles. I started on the right side but soon took advantage of a short gap in the performance to move back behind the seats.

Camera and Lens: I was using my new Fuji X-T2 mirrorless with the battery grip attached. That makes it bulkier, but three batteries are definitely better than one in a situation like this. I would up using slightly less than two of them up.

My lens was the Fuji 55-200 f3.5-4.8 (85-305 equivalent) zoom. I would REALLY have appreciated having at least a 2.8 aperture, but without the ability to move around much, I needed the zoom.

Settings: This was a little of a learning experience. It was a no-brainer to lock the lens wide open. But I spent the evening setting my ISO between 1600 and 12800 as needed when I don't think I had to – often winding up with shutter speeds a little faster than needed. The lighting shifted so fast and often from low to high.

It would be best in a situation like this to, still shooting wide open, lock the shutter speed on between 1/125 and 1/200 of a second and set the ISO on automatic. That way a lot more exposures will fall in the ISO 1600 or lower range and lose their graininess. I can always use the shutter speed fine tuning wheel to make minor corrections.

Equipment complaint: The only complaint I have is that the lens is tricky to lock into one f-stop – it's too easy to brush while zooming the lens. It took me a while to train myself to hold and zoom with a different grip than I would normally use. OK, not a big complaint, and it's a product of the fact that the lens is otherwise smaller, lighter and more functional than others in that zoom range. Everything's a trade-off.

Surprise Ending: I was pretty much done shooting and decided to do a quick switch to video and shoot some short clips during the finale and encore. I put them together and it's actually kind of fun, expecially the ending clip. Know, I know, I should have gotten the one whole number, but I began late.

The biggest surprise was how effective the lens stabalization was. Wow, I was hand holding this at 200mm (305mm equivalent).

Here I put together a few clips from the finale and encore…