fujifilm X-Pro1, XF35mm f/1.4 @ f/2, 1/125th sec, ISO-1600.
I confess to feelings of self-doubt and skepticism when I was approached last week about photographing the bands playing at The Venue in Colne for the annual Blues weekend… I am not afraid of trying something new but to be honest I’m not good in large crowds, I’m not comfortable with drunks – even friendly ones and my hearing is not great…. so spending a bank holiday weekend in a crowded venue, with lots of well-lubricated people and a whole lot of live – and loud! – bands was probably getting fairly close to what I would call my ‘perfect storm’….
Well in the event, the weekend actually passed off without too much bother at all for me and actually resulted in some really good images. Yes the music was loud, but the earplugs were employed and the effect of the volume on me reduced to the extent that I was able to get very close to speakers and amps without too much bother. There was plenty of drinking but no one bothered me or got in the way in any sense…. to be fair I had some good crack with a few people, so all was well there. The Saturday evening crowd was – due to the inclement weather outside – very large and in fact too great for me to be able to work so I gave it up that night, however the rest of the time the venue was very busy but not to the degree that I couldn’t get around.
In terms of style and delivery, I decided I wanted images that were as ‘up-close and personal’ as I could get, allowing for the fact that the bands themselves would also probably like the wider ‘stage-shots’ as well. For the most part I achieved both. I positioned myself either side of the stage, right by or even behind the speakers and also found some wider positions allowing for different perspectives to be gained.
I exclusively used my XF35mm lens during the whole weekend. Its the fastest one I posses at f/1.4 wide open although in the very reduced lighting on offer I was still able to work at f/2 at 1/125th sec shutter and with the ISO set at 1600 across every image. I did attempt to use both my Fujifilm XF27mm ‘pancake’ lens but found it to be too slow and the Samyang 12mm which at f/2 was about fast enough but handicapped in other ways. I operated in fully manual mode both in terms of the camera settings and focus although I also employed the back-focus button a good deal of the time.
Roughly half of my images were taken in monochrome with a red filter with the rest captured in Velvia colour and then reduced down to something closer to Fuji’s ‘Classic Chrome’ setting which is not available on the X-Pro 1. I really like using very muted colouring across a whole range of image genre, almost to the point where the image is borderline monochrome. Incidentally on the Friday evening I shot with my Fujifilm X-E2 as this has a more up-to-date processor and is deemed better in low light conditions. However my experience was that actually the X-Pro1 offered more than adequate speed married to the 35mm f/1.4. Focusing did ‘miss’ on occasion although the number of unusable images was I think very low.
The image here is of the lead singer in the local band ‘Suburban Symphony’ giving the mic some welly. I guess this image sums up my favorate style of image. High-contrast monochrome and using the ‘landscape’ perspective of the image to present a sense of ‘intimate space’; the band were performing to a packed house on the Sunday afternoon when this image was captured.
All the acts were really good to be honest although I found the best ones for me were those where the lead singer could ‘perform’ as well as sing – the Band Mojo Filter were probably my favorate in musical terms also the Dana Ali Band, both had really good lead singers. However like I say, none of the bands I saw and captured here were anything other than brilliant and I hope to be able to photograph them again in the future…