Finally, inquiring about shooting Empire 35 at Macmillan Fest got me a press pass to that event, and my first chance to shoot in Rescue Rooms and Rock City Basement.
So, a brace of great gigs this summer, meeting some fantastic people, and the opportunity to get some shots that I'm really proud of can all be traced back to that rather sparsely attended gig back in June!
My best wishes to James, Jeff, Rich, and Sean in whatever they're off to do next. One thing I won't miss for the time being though - waiting for the rare moments when Sean's hair isn't in front of his face so that the camera's auto-focus stands any chance of locking on to him! :P
135mm f/2 @ ISO640, f4.5, 320s
Apart from the weight, I think that the Canon EF 70-200mm f2.8 lens would have been ideal for this shoot, but, hey, I haven't yet found the funds to buy one of those... However, the longest lens that I do own (a Canon 135mm f2.0) was the ideal prime lens to use given the size of the venue. It meant that I could shoot people from far enough away to not be too intrusive, but still get tight enough shots.
And that's really important to me. I have been to a few seminars where a photographer has been in the way and causing a distraction, sometimes even getting in between the participants and the instructor (that really annoys me!). I inevitably lost some shots by not being more bullish, but I'm comfortable with that. People attend these events to learn something and have fun. Having some decent photos as a record of the day is nice, but it's not the reason for being there.
Overall, I think it was a success. I got some decent shots, I learnt more about shooting action in (changing) low light conditions, and people seem happy with the results.
Thorpe Cloud, 50mm f1.4 @ ISO200, f18, 1/80s
I had originally intended to go walking in the Peak District on Wednesday last week, but it was postponed due to aggravating a hamstring injury at Krav Maga training on Tuesday... However, I decided to risk it on Friday, with it being the last weekday of my vacation.
It wasn't the best day to be out with the camera at Dovedale (overcast and drizzly to start with), and I should have got there earlier, with sunrise at about 5am at this time of year. That said, the car park at the Thorpe end of Dovedale doesn't open until 9am in the morning anyway. According to the parking attendant, it is not open earlier due to 'trouble makers'... Still, at 9am, I pretty much had the place to myself, although, as expected, it filled up later...
But, a brief conversation put things into perspective. I spoke to a lady in Milldale who said that it was the first time in two years that she'd done this walk, as her dog had become too elderly to manage it. The dog had died on Wednesday, so this was her way of remembering better times - I really hope that it brought back some great memories for her.
Next up was an unnamed band (apparently now named 'The Band With No Name'), made up of members of other acts on the bill, playing rockabilly. After reviewing some of the shots of the Bophins, I switched to the 85mm lens to get some tighter shots. However, with movement restricted by the audience, and a double bass taking centre stage, I probably would have been better off sticking with the 50mm. That said, the 50mm lens wouldn't have got me the shot of the drummer that I like...
The original plan had been to stay a bit later and shoot more of the bands. But, with friends having to leave earlier than expected, and things running well behind schedule, I decided to call it a day. Overall, I'm reasonably happy with the results, but plenty more practice is still needed.
It was a bright day, although not as sunny as for the portraits course at Sudbury Hall a couple of weeks ago - good conditions for practising using fill flash. Outside exercises included shooting the model in a car. Inside, we took shots of people against windows, and a white studio backdrop. As well as using diffusers, we also bounced flash off reflectors.
I didn't get many shots that I was really happy with, but the day was more about trying out different things, and building familiarity with the techniques. The session was really well run by Louise - both friendly and informative.
I used the 50mm f/1.4 lens, with the camera in aperture priority mode, and experimented a bit with the depth of field. Indoors, I put the ISO on auto, with a minimum shutter speed set at 1/60s. In hindsight, I should have fixed the ISO. The shutter speed was a little too slow in some of the shots (mostly when the children were involved!), because the camera automatically set the ISO too low.
And, I'm still getting some inconsistent results with the auto-focus... I think I need to use the centre auto-focus point more and then recompose the shots, rather than using the 18 off-centre focus points.
Despite not taking particularly many photos, so as not to be a complete pain, and some auto-focus issues, I got a few decent shots - a mixture of posed and candid ones.
I decided to cut my losses before the headline act and just enjoy their set, not least because the crowd were crammed right up to the stage. In better conditions, they would have been great to shoot - very tight, and huge energy.
Still, it wasn't a complete loss - for starters, all the bands were great. I managed to salvage a few images via Lightroom, and learned a lot about how far I can push my EOS 70D in challenging conditions like this. I'm looking forward to shooting The Hip Priests again in a venue that has, oh I don't know, maybe at least one spotlight pointing at them!