I’ll be shooting at the Bonita Blues Festival in Bonita Springs, Florida this weekend March 8th and 9th. It’s an annual event that raises money for Bonita Springs Assistance Office, The Music for Minors Program, The Music Therapy Program at the Children’s Hospital and The Wounded Warriors Project. And just as important as the Festival’s mission, nothing is lost on the music or the acts in attendance. It’s awesome.
For me, it’s a chance to step out of my usual role as a motorsports photographer and shoot strictly for the pleasure of shooting. What makes that extra special are the subjects I’m shooting. These are artists… and they wear their passion on their sleeve. That’s what draws me in.
It’s interesting to draw on the similarities of music and photography. Obviously they are both an art form and creative endeavor. But photographers don’t get to perform “live.” Our work is always enjoyed later in a recorded/playback format. Sure, musicians make recordings too. But they also sit on stage living in the moment and putting it all on the line.
One of things I really enjoy when I shoot performers is the similarity of what they are doing and what I am doing. Shooting like this, for me, is how I imagine a pianist or guitar player feels when they’re lost in their music… just channeling what they know and what they do. No restrictions of “thinking” it through. Just a sense of calm… a feeling where everything slows down and simply happens.
I’m sure that can happen in any endeavor. I’m sure sports people experience it… writers, painters… the ability to just get to a place where you’re channeling your talent with an effortless and peaceful calm.
For me, those are some of the most pleasurable moments in my photography.
It’s a fantastic place to get to. Suddenly, you aren’t thinking about results. You’re in a place that transcends all the lessons and all the frustrations typically associated with shooting. You’re gently shifting your compositions, opening up or stopping down a 1/2 stop here and there, watching for that defining moment and simply coaxing the camera to shape what you’re seeing and experiencing. It’s addictive… and it’s a place you never want to leave.
It doesn’t happen all the time. Some days you’re wrestling with the entire process. But some days, it all comes together. You’re mind, you’re talent, you’re creativity and your experience all take over in unison. The mechanical device in your hands is just a transparent facilitator allowing you to channel your vision… it’s nirvana.
This Friday and Saturday… I’ll be riffing live… at the Bonita Blues Festival. I’m gonna get there.
I’ve always enjoyed working with available light. And yes, the translation of that is, working with strobes scares the heck out of me. I’ve dabbled with lighting over the years, but I’ve decided I really want to come to terms with it. Not so much that I want to “create” lighting looks or scenarios, but I do want to be able to manage it and get what I want from it when it’s needed.
I often do a lot of my glamor shoots in the master bedroom at my house. The room gets a lot of northern light from a sliding glass wall. Typically, I can shoot with my Canon 5D MK11 at 3200 ISO and have plenty of headroom for shutter and aperture choices to accomplish the look I want. Especially in black and white. Or, given the ability to shoot my M9 at fairly slow shutters, I can get away with IS0 800 or 1000 with any of my Summicron lenses. The 90mm gets to be a bit of a challenge… but, like the 5D MK11, for the most part I’m where I want to be.
But with all that said, there are cloudy days where I’m on the bleeding edge. And I’m really tied into that window like a ball and chain. So… it’s time to play with strobes and see if I can match the available light look while giving myself some headroom and get away from living on the edge.
The photo above is the result of my effort. To light Chelsea in this shot, I used a single Dynalight 400W strobe bounced into a 60” Photek umbrella with a front diffuser. The light was pushed up to the (12’) ceiling on a 9’ stand and angled about 15 degrees to the ceiling and set just behind the camera (my right) and about 7’ back from my subject. With the strobe set at 1/8 power, I used my Canon 5D MK11 with a 70-200mm f/2.8 at ISO 160, f/4, 1/160 sec. at 150mm.
While I’m extremely happy with this as a starting point, there’s still lots of work ahead. But I feel the overall look to the image is true to the style I’m after without any real tell-tale signs of using a strobe. And that’s what I’m after.
More to come.