Concert Photography Part 1 : Miyavi + Dir en Grey

When I was younger, rock stars always fascinated me (not so much now that I’m older and reality hit me with a lead pipe like Professor Plum in the Observatory) and I loved the action packed images that photographers captured.  Whether it was Gene Simmons’ fir spitting frozen in time or Elvis gyrating that pelvis of his, the photos taken at concerts are…hard to take!  Think about it and appreciate it more!  Even if you got close enough to take a clean photo at any concert, you might miss the second by a breath or set your camera on a wrong setting because, all of a sudden, the pyrotechnics went off and all you got was a blinding white light!  And do you expect all those great poses to last forever?  Hell no!

A few years ago, my sister-friend Doll and I had a great stroke of luck.  In a two month period two of our favorite Japanese rock artists came to our area!  We considered this a once in a lifetime opportunity since we couldn’t be sure if we would ever get this chance again.  At the time, I thought my little A735 was amazing.  It took great shots, I was able to freeze capture well enough, and it was durably compact.  I was so naive!

Our first concert was at what once was Firestone Live in Orlando.  The artist: Miyavi, an incredible guitar player with a large following…apparently a very large one in Orlando.  From the start of the show to the end there must have been at least 500 screaming, jumping fan girls bumping, flailing, and prostrating themselves all over us.  Really, really hard to take any pictures in that environment.  And forget about getting close…that was just crazy talk!  If you’re in the middle of a concert, random power fists and devil horns fly right in front of your shot which takes your camera’s focus off the subject and now you have a beautiful picture of an underage drinkers hand.

So let me tell you what really went wrong.

  • I had the wrong type of camera with me.  It had no Manual mode!  No amount of Lightroom tweaking can fix these images!  The shutter speed wasn’t fast enough and the lighting made focusing next to impossible.
  • I would have paid the extra money to get VIP so i could be away from random thrusting hands!
  • Coincidentally, I haven’t used that camera since this concert because it pissed me off that much!

After a little research and searching I came across an incredible camera that everyone who reads this blog should be well antiquated with.  My Sony HX9V!  I dished out quite a bit of money for this camera so I could have it compact in my pocket if I needed to stow it away. The only drawback: no RAW files.  That would make my life so much easier!  Though it might be outdated now, 4 years ago this camera was the top of it’s series.  Also, another fact about going into concerts, they look down on bringing your own professional gear in.  Most of the time they ask you to leave it with security until after the show.  So the HX9V was a perfect option for me.

Off to the next concert.  Since it was not a busy night I got to get within 10 feet of the stage (this will be rare when I tell you all of the second Dir en Grey concert).  I set the camera to a preset scene of action capture and let the magic happen.  I was more enjoying myself than taking pictures so I was not paying attention to the Manual settings.

In hindsight, this is what I would have done!

  • I would have turned off the AF Illuminator.  This is the red light the camera uses to focus on an object in low light.  With this on, the band constantly was looking at me…as I was the only thing in the crowd with a bright ass red light pointing at them.  Plus side is they were camera whores so I got a lot of them facing me!
  • I would have shuffled off to the side, away from the gang of abusive mosh pitters so I could keep my camera steady enough to use my Manual settings.
  • I would have brought better memory cards!  About 15 minutes into the concert I had to steal Doll’s card since the images of the HX9V were set at the highest quality.  4GB in 15 minutes!
  • I would have done more burst settings set in the reduced blur action capture.  I would have then had at least 10 to choose from.
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