One Evening – Many Joys

I watched Justine for a while and noticed that she tilted her head away from the microphone between verses. This way, I could time my photographic shots between shots of scotch.

Lately it seems I’m enjoying photography most when I impulsively throw a camera over my shoulder and go out to do something other than photography. On Monday night my son and I went to Zoey’s in Ventura to hear music from B. Willing James and Justine Bennett. I brought a Nikon D7000 with a 50mm f/1.8 lens – no bagful of gear.

I love live music. I love going to hear live music with my son – something we’ve been doing together since he was a pre-teen. I love Zoey’s as a music venue (and as a purveyor of single-malt scotch). I loved hearing Brendan and Justine singing together and separately. All in all, a pretty good night.  And I took some pictures.

Tricky exposure. I decided to plant the focus point and spot meter on Justine's face and let the shadows fall where they may. Microphones plague performance pictures, but as you'll see below, I caught a break on this occasion.

As I always say, this blog is about what I’m learning, not what I think I can teach. At Zoey’s I learned that I may have overcompensated when fine-tuning the autofocus on my lens – it seemed to be front-focusing a bit. In retrospect, I realize that I fine-tuned all my lenses and camera bodies at close distances, but that is not how I use the lenses. Looks like I’ll be revisiting the whole focus fine-tuning process again. I promise not to blog about it.

I also learned that I don’t have to shoot hundreds (or thousands) of frames when I’m not on assignment. I wasn’t documenting the event or trying to produce publicity images; I just wanted a couple of nice pictures from the evening. I shot a total of 65 frames, selected about twenty for further review, and got three I like enough to share.  Much nicer than reviewing 2500 images from a high school dance concert and trying to make sure I’ve got something nice of each dancer.

And finally, I learned that I need to revisit a lot of my habits now that I’m using a new camera. In this case, I realized after the fact that auto-ISO chose between 2000 and 2800 for my favorite images. Had I been paying attention to this during the show, I could have boosted my shutter speed for sharper images or reduced my aperture for greater depth of field. I’ve got more options than I used to have, and I look forward to using them. I’m confident in this camera right up to ISO 6400.

The sound system behaved badly on this evening, so Justine and Brendan came out from behind their microphones and performed a truly acoustic set. They sounded great in the cozy venue, and I got a microphone-free image.

I love taking pictures most when I am filled with excitement about where I am. Maybe the key to my photographic development in 2012 is to spend more time where I am happy.

By the way, friends in Orange County, CA, can catch Brendan and Justine in Lonesome Traveler at the Laguna Playhouse, January 10 – February 5, 2012. I saw the show at Ventura’s Rubicon Theater and it was fantastic.

After a three-year avoidance of Photoshop, I was motivated by a sale (and a bit of corporate extortion) to upgrade from CS2 to CS5.1. I plan to use it less for retouching than for flat-out play and graphic extravagance. You have been warned.

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Filed under Camera Gear, Low Light, Motivation, Post Processing

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