The Darkness

5 12 2011

Give me a D!

‘D!’

Give me an Arkness

‘Arkness!’

 

Yes, The Darkness are back and I wrangled a pit pass for this explosive show.

I wasn’t expecting it to be half as good as it turned out to be. It’s been nearly five years since they last released anything, so expectations of a ‘reunion tour’ scenario, y’know ‘take the money and run through a set’ was quite high. Turns out all Justin and co. want is to be loved. And that they were. I must admit, it’s not hard to love a grown man who prances about in new jumpsuits every few minutes, whilst belting through some stomper hits… before riding a security guard like a bronco. …you just don’t get enough of that at the Olympia.

Anyway, you can find the rest of the set on State.ie or over at my Facebook Page

Advertisements




Foster The People

1 12 2011

I won’t bore you with some banal chat today. Not when I’ve belter pictures to be showing you from Foster The People’s headline gig at the Olympia from this week.

As always, click to see them larger over at Flickr.





Flogging Molly, Olympia, 24/8/11

24 08 2011

Flogging Molly were at the Olympia tonight and they were insanely good. I’ve got a helluva lot of work to get through the next few days, so here’s another taster until I get everything sorted!

You can see more here, however:

flickr.com/photos/mehfesto/





Christmas Cheer!

25 12 2010

What better way to celebrate Christmas than with a nomination for Music Photographer of the year? Yes indeedy, I’ve made the long-list for The Digital Socket Awards’ Best Music Photography category. It’s a bgreat honor to be nominated amongst some truly superb photographers and I can’t wait to see the shortlist. (My money is on either James Goulden or Ramsey Cardey, if you’re asking.)

To celebrate this achievement, and as a thanks to the staff of State.ie, Goldenplec.com and everyone else who helped me over the past year, I present the best of my 2010. Happy Christmas all.

Sean

(Enjoy) :

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 





How to shoot gigs – Part One : Camera Basics

3 06 2010

I’ve been asked several times in the last week how to shoot concerts properly. The people were asking with regard to their point & shoot cameras, but there were also SLR owner enquiries. I thought I’d cover both. Y’know, given that I’m a bit of a genius in the area and that. And modest to boot, too.

I’ll start with SLR cameras.

First things first – For gigs you’ll need to be in Manual mode. You’ll need to be in control of everything yourself. Shooting a gig is the best way to learn about all the features of the camera.

Gigs are *generally* very dark places to shoot at. So you’ll need to adjust your camera to allow as much light in as possible. The basic ways to do this are to adjust the three main elements of the camera – the ISO, the shutter speed and the Aperture.

1. The ISO

The ISO (International Standard Organisation – what it means not important, though!) relates to how sensitive your camera’s sensor is to light. It goes from around 100 on most cameras up to 32,000 on high-end professional cameras. The lower the number, the higher the quality of the image – but the less sensitive it will be to dark. Low ISOs are great for sunny days out and about. They are utterly rubbish for gigs, though – they are not sensitive enough for the indoor stage lights, and you’ll get VERY dark pictures. So you’ll want to boost this up as high as your camera can handle. This will depend on the quality of your camera. For example:

The D80 is a now obsolete Nikon mid-range camera. It’s a great camera with a CCD sensor (cropped). However it’s ISO control is pretty pants to be fair.

Here’s a picture of Gaz Coombes, lead singer of Supergrass and The Hot Rats. It was taken in the Academy, Dublin with a D80 with attached sigma 24-70mm f2.8.

The ISO here was 1600. And at this size (1/8 of the original) it looks not too bad. If you click the image there, you’ll see it at half the size – and already it looks pretty rubbish. The image is  VERY grainy/noisy. This is due to the high ISO. Using ISO is a balancing act – you need is low enough to avoid grainy pictures, but high enough so that you get bright enough pictures. In this  instance very little could be done – the Academy is very often backlit (lights from behind the performers). A nice way to avoid this is to upgrade your camera – expensive but, sadly true.

Here’s a very recent image. Taken with a D700 at ISO 2,500. Now, this *should* result in a much more grainy image than the one above, but due to the quality of the camera, I can allow myself to push the ISO higher – safe in the knowledge the picture will be as sharp as a pin. There’s no way the D80 could handle this.

In a nutshell then, ISO should be pushed as high as possible without the images becoming excessively grainy.

*****************************************************

2. Shutter Speed

This is the easiest of the three. The shutter speed refers to the amount of time the camera’s sensor is exposed to light – i.e. how long the “camera is open”, or how long you are letting light into your camera for. The longer it is open the more light that will get in, making the image brighter – however the blurrier the image will be (as there will be movement during this time!). If open for a shorter amount of time, the image will be sharper, but darker (if all the other settings are the same), because less light got in – but you ‘stopped’ movement.

Shooting at gigs, you’ll want to stop the action dead. To do this you’ll need a relatively small shutter speed time. The lowest you can get away with I find is about 1/40th of a second. This will be bright enough in most venues for nicely lit images, but it may result in ‘shaky’ or blurry images if the band is a bit lively. You could probably get away with 1/40th of a second for a band that doesn’t move around much. However for bands like The Blackout (Emo, jumpy lads – below) I needed a much faster shutter speed.

For this 1/320nd of a second was the shutter speed. That’s VERY fast. As you can see there is no blurring.This is because of two things. 1. The ISO was at 2,500 – but also because of the Aperture.

*****************************************************

3. Aperture.

This is what aperture is:

As you can see there are little blades inside your lens that constrict and expand under your control. You are controlling how much light gets into your camera. The more open it is – the more light will be getting into the image. Most, if not all, lenses’ aperture can be adjusted on the camera itself – you shouldn’t really have to twist the lens as he does here. However your lens will define how wide you can make your lens. Standard kit lenses’ will go now wider than f4.5 This will be useless for gigs (you will learn why below), so I suggest you check out a 50mm f/1.8 lens. Cheap, cheerful and BRILLIANT – and not just for gigs! It’s potentially the most useful and best value lens ever. Don’t pay more than €130 for one though.

Okay, back to the techie stuff : The wider the aperture – the smaller it’s number will be. Sounds confusing but it’s not really. The number refers to the fraction of the amount of light that the lens lets in. So 1.8 let’s in more available light than 5.6 does (55% of available light compared to 17%). If you’re still a bit swamped just remember: Aperture – Low number Loads of light, High Number Hardly any light. Easy Peasy.

But aperture does one more thing. A wide aperture (the small number that lets in loads of light) also gives you a shallow depth of field. This means that whatever you’ve focused upon will be sharp, but everything in the distance to this will be nicely blurred. Like this:

This was shot at f/2.8. The singer is in focus, but the crowd in the distance are blurred.

A shallower aperture of say f/32 would NEVER be used at a gig – you’d not be letting enough light into the camera – the aperture would be too narrow, restricting the amount of light that could get into the camera!

*****************************************************

And that’s it. Basics learned.

If you’re still a bit confused, this rule of thumb can help you with a standard SLR at most Dublin venues.

ISO 800 or above. Shutter speed 1/40 – 1/60. Aperture – as wide as possible (lens depending). Then:

  • If you’re images are too bright and blurry – shorten the shutter speed (make it ‘faster’).
  • If your images are grainy – lower the ISO,  – you may also need to lower the shutter speed too.
  • If you images are too dark – lower the shutter speed, make the aperture wider, increase the ISO.
  • If your images are VERY dark – take off the lens cap!

That’s all for now. Next time we’ll be looking at small tips, tricks & techniques that will help you better expose those gig photos, how to approach different venues in Dublin – and also how to get better pictures with a point and shoot camera!

If you’ve any questions leave a comment below!





Faithless, The Olympia, 19-5-2010

20 05 2010

click image to see it larger

All images shot at ISO 2,500, f2 shutter speed 800-2000 with 85mm 1.8 (except shot 4-shot with 24-70mm f2.8)

Only got access for two songs tonight – two songs with bright red and neon-blue lights. And strobe lighting. Oh, and dry-ice. Worst nightmare. Thankfully I got some decent shots and most were savable in Photoshop. I got a good haul, so expect a little bit more soon.

It was a weird night; the band were at the back of the stage, except for Maxi Jazz himself, so it meant i’d very little options on who to shoot and when. The 85mm wasn’t long enough for most of the shots, so the above are crops, for the most part. That said they look pretty decent – another testament to the quality of the D700. That camera makes me look better than I really am.

And I chanced my arm at HDR for the first time too:
Lemme know what you think. I tried to keep it within reason (no halos, reasonably believable!)





The Specials, Dublin’s Olympia, 14th November, 2009

25 04 2010

Unknown to me at the time, this was to be the last thing gig I would ever shoot with my Nikon D80. Having been sold this week to a lovely lady, it got me thinking how cool that camera was. I shot my first gig with it, it was the reason I got involved in State and it made me fall in love with photography. Without it, I’d probably be an unhappy nurse, somewhere in an old folks home up to my elbows in sh… anyway. It was a great little thing.

That said, at a gig like The Specials, it felt a little tame. Surrounded by D3’s and whatever the Canon equivelent is, I couldn’t help but feel I was coming across like an amateur. While nobody would say it, a camera like this – as great as it is (and it really is)  just didn’t register with the pros. While it did everything well – and arguably I could get some shots of similar quality, it’s ISO control was awful. Well, that’s being a bit harsh – it just didn’t do the dark well. at all.

Seriously, the difference between the ISO between my new baby (the D700) and the D80 is amazing. The picture of the ever enthusiastic Mr. Terry Hall when viewed large shows a hulluva lotta noise. And while I’ll admit the image has been sharpened a tad, the fact that at ISO 640, the image is so noisy/pixelated is not encouraging. Compared to the next gig in the Olympia, using the same lens and f/number of  Miss Florence, which was at ISO 2,500 – you can see why the D80 is not a pro camera. It’s a phenomenal beginner’s/enthusiast’s camera and I’m going to miss it a lot. But if I’m ever going to be the bestest photomagrapher there ever was, I’m going to need a lot of help – and the D700 is as much help I could currently afford.

The Specials – Gangsters by Housejunkee83

If you like what you here, why not buy some of their stuff, eh?