It’s time for another (or second) story behind a photo. Sometimes these stories are going to be background on the subject, the event or what inspired the photo. Other times I’m going to use to space to talk about some of the technical aspects of the photos, some of the challenges of shooting the photo, my choices in editing the photo and why I like the photo.
I took this photo at the July 15th, 2010 performance of the LA based street punk band The Scarred at The ChampionSHIP in Lemoyne, Pennsylvania. The subject is Justin Scarred, the lead vocalist, rhythm guitarist and band leader (and only original member who was with the band at the time of the show). Scarred is a member of a dying breed of punk musicians struggling in the tiny LA scene. But, despite the challenges of the scene, he has built a name for himself and his band across the country.
The ChampionSHIP is one of the few surviving DIY venues. No stage barriers, no security, no grips and nobody directing traffic. Bands take care of themselves and the audience gets up close and personal to the bands. It also means there is no professional lighting staff. Unless a band has a lighting program or requests certain gels, the band gets white(ish) light.This makes “Champ” one of the best places to for young photographers to cut their teeth with low-light and flash photograph and for experienced photographer to play with different styles and to challenge themselves.
This particular show I was working with my Cannon EOS 1000D (Rebel xs) the stock 18-55mm IS lens and a 75-300mm telephoto lens. I had challenged myself on this particular evening to not use an external flash but to work with the low light, or make the horseshoe flash work.
Here is the metadata for this shot.
Because of the low light and my lack of flash use I was forced into ISO 1600. By no stretch of the imagination do I normally want to be shooting that high, but it’s possible to make it work and the EOS 1000D can just handle the high ISO well enough to produce smaller (11×17 or smaller) prints. But with the high ISO I was able to push the exposure up slightly to 1/80th of a second, up significantly from the 1/30th (or so) that the image stabilization lens allows hand hold the camera at.
One of the great things about low light shooting is the ability to freeze parts of the subject while capturing motion within his or her body. One of the reasons I like shooting live musicians so much is that they will often freeze their torso and legs while moving their arms and head providing a interesting effect organically.
The stage at Champ is set at about two feet which allowed me to get down slightly and get a strong up angle shot of Scarred as he struck his pose during the middle of the set. I was also lucky that the show was sparsely attended and I was able to get down on the ground without risking my equipment or safety.
One of the surprising things about shooting bands is that the quality of the music is often directly proportional to the quality of subjects. Bands that are struggling with their music rarely are able to move around or screw around on stage and create stagnant photos. Also, when I am more into the music, I’m more likely to work to make the band look good. Is that fair? Probably not, but when I’m shooting for myself, I’m allowed to make those distinctions. The challenge comes when I’m hired to make a weaker band look good.
I love shooting in low light, but it takes practice, and forcing yourself to work without an external flash will improve your overall skills, and especially improve your skills when it comes time to work with an external flash.