Shelia Stephens & The Rodeo Monkeys - Live at The Bluebird, Bloomington, Indiana

Warning: all video clips were shot by an amateur videographer (me) with only one day of experience in DSLR video recording. 

Welcome to another mind bending and profound blog entry. I'll try to provide some details into the techniques I used to capture the images shown in the post. For those who need visual stimulation, please watch the video above :) Otherwise, risk having your eyes glaze over...

Before I get going, I would like to thank Buddy Mitchell and Sheila Stephen for giving me a shot at this. And for those who have never seen/heard Sheila Stephen and The Rodeo Monkeys, they are a talented group of singers and musicians. They put on a great show. 

This was my first 'official' concert photography gig to date and I was excited to have the opportunity. Concert photography is particularly challenging because venues are typically very dark and the folks on stage tend to move around just a bit! This makes things interesting on a couple of fronts:

1) Cameras typically have a harder time acquiring focus in this environment.
2) You are forced to use high ISOs, which can make things a noisy mess if you're not careful. 
1/100s, f/2.8, ISO2500 @ 80mm
Sheila and Craig getting funky with it. 1/100s, f/2.8, ISO2500 @ 80mm

To deal with these difficulties, I decided to use my iPhone 4s camera... Actually, I approached the shoot knowing that I would need to pick a good compromise between a slow shutter speed, wide open aperture and high ISO. Oh, and these values would need to be adjusted continuously as to match the lighting scenario. I was shooting with a Nikon D300s that I rented from Roberts Photography (Indianapolis, IN) and it turns out workable shots up until ISO2000 and things get messier when pushed to ISO3200. I shot RAW format to give me the most latitude in post processing. For lenses, I used my Nikkor 80-200mm f/2.8 AFS and Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8 - both were pretty much shot wide open during the whole concert. Ideally, I would have shot with fast primes to allow lower ISO values, but my 'arsenal' of lenses is lacking in that arena. 
Randy rocking it out! 1/125s, f/2.8, ISO2000 @ 45mm

Most of the stage was lit decently by the stage lights except for the drum kit. There was just a nice big beam of very red light dumped on the kit. I brought along a handy speedlight with a little LumiQuest Softbox III affixed and stuck on the left side of the drummer, Buddy Mitchell, to give him a little 'pop'. At the same time, it overpowered the heavy red light and delivered nice results. The image below gives you an idea of the setup. The speedlight was triggered via wireless RF-602 trigger - it worked like a charm! I have been using these triggers for a couple of years and have had surprising reliability with them. Another perk to popping the drummer with a speedlight is it freezes action and makes the image appear much sharper than without. To see some absolutely killer concert photography and behind-the-scenes looks, check out Adam Elmakias over at Scott Kelby's blog. He does some amazing stuff!
A loud crash was heard microseconds after this shot! 1/125, f/2.8, ISO2000 @ 24mm
Buddy Mitchell looking all smiley! The image on the left was taken with flash. The image on the right was taken without flash. Big difference, eh?
As I tried to emphasize in the credits section of the video (top of the page), I am as amateur as one can get in the world of DSLR video. However, I couldn't pass up the opportunity to at least play around with the video recording in between snapping stills of the concert. This too proved to be very difficult, but in the end I think I captured a few minutes of nice footage. All of the footage was processed and edited in Adobe After Effects CS5 and the final project was assembled in Adobe Premiere Pro CS5. All of the effects, transitions, and arrangements were done manually - not with a template. In anticipation of receiving my pre-ordered Nikon D800 I have been pushing myself to learn the ropes of the two Adobe tools I just mentioned. The whole world of DSLR video is very intriguing to me and you can expect to see more of my movie musings when I receive my new camera.

Thank you for taking the time to read this post. Feel free to ask questions in the comments below. Click the RSS link to subscribe to my blog or 'like it' on Facebook. Click here, here, or here to see all of the images from the concert. 


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