Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Robert Plant @ Dodge Theatre

Sometimes I think I'm the only person, or at least the only pseudo-musician, in the world who doesn't love Led Zeppelin. I'm not about to slag them off or anything, but I've just never had a connection with them. That aside, I was still jazzed to shoot Robert Plant last night at the Dodge Theatre. The man is an icon of rock, you have to give him that.

Excitement waned a touch, as it does, when I was told to "bring a long lens". (In nerd world, that means we would be shooting from far away... most photogs need to know in advance so they can rent a ridiculous lens to get them closer in.) ((And as a point of fact, they are actually physically long as well. And heavy to boot.)) But we're all seasoned veterans of the bring a long lens world... it's nothing new. Sir Plant is getting on in years and doesn't want a telephoto lens shoved in his face. Fair enough. However, upon arrival I was told we'd be actually now be shooting from the balcony of Dodge Theatre. Just imagine the very back of 5,000 capacity venue... then go up in the air 50 feet.

Needless to say, the photos weren't about to be anything remarkable. Then add to that a real lack of light on stage and it's sort of a shite sandwich from a photog's point of view. But you know... that's part of the game of it. I heard all the other photogs griping during the set... some of them with fairly low-end gear. And I'm not taking the piss with that comment. To be fair, in a situation like last night, the inexpensive gear really couldn't cut the mustard. With my 5D, I was shooting at ISO6000! My 100-400mm f4.5-5.6 was balanced on a monopod, which was leaning on the balcony railing, and I propped my body up against the piece of glass that separated the VIP suites... it's about AS stable as one can make it. I still had to have my shutter as low as 1/20 of a sec at times. That is a long time for a shutter to be open. Any judder on my part, or a twitch on stage, and the photo is blown. I'd like to imagine the experience is akin to hunting a small animal with a sniper rifle. Slow breaths, track the movement, learn your prey, then breathe out and squeeze the trigger... pray to Jebus you got the shot.

In the end... after our three songs we're up, I was at least fairly confident I got all that was possible to get. This thought was confirmed on the whinging-photographer packed elevator ride down from the top floor down to the lobby. I try not to complain in public, or at least not in front of my contemporaries... but apathy isn't very attractive. And fitting in is what it's all about right?

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