Coldmailman at The Crossroad Club / by Conor Cunningham

Not long before Christmas, Ivar of Coldmailman fame invited me to shoot his band at The Crossroad Club in Oslo. Having been on the lookout for such an oppurtunity, I jumped at the chance.

Full set of pics here : http://www.conorcunningham.net/concerts/

Now, in reality, I know Ivar and I asked him if I could shoot the concert. And I plan on doing the same with other bands. So, if you're wondering how you get to shoot a concert, it's simple; find a band and ask them. If they're a local band, nine times out of 10, they'll jump at the chance.

 Coldmailman's rig. Canon 5d MKIII 1/200 f/2.2 ISO 3200 Canon 50mm f/1.4

Coldmailman's rig. Canon 5d MKIII 1/200 f/2.2 ISO 3200 Canon 50mm f/1.4

The stage is relatively large for the size of the bar but it isn't very high. It's also a little difficult to get around as a photographer, but photographer's needs aside, it is a cracking venue for a gig. Tip top sound, too, and the mailmen and women made the most it.

 The Band. Canon 5d MKIII 1/60 f/2.8 ISO 3200 Canon 50mm f/1.4

The Band. Canon 5d MKIII 1/60 f/2.8 ISO 3200 Canon 50mm f/1.4

Ivar asked if I could get a pic of the entire band. This is the only one I manged to pull off. Note the speaker above the left most fellow's head. It was rare that the speaker wasn't hiding his or the guitarist's head. Persistence paid of in the end. A bit of luck helps, too.

Metering

I shot this show entirely on manual. It was dark, but the lights weren't changing so I didn't need to change my settings too often. I was using a  Canon 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II USM and a Canon 50mm f/1.4 USM.

As is often the case at concerts (dark places) spot metering was the only way to go. Meter for the faces (or instrument if you are shooting that). If not, you'll expose the for lights and blow the picture.

Check your Camera's manual for information about spot metering if you don't know what it is. In my camera's case, it measures light for only 1% of the picture at the place where my focus point is pointing.

Black and White or Colour

I like colour. No secrets about that. However, black and white has its moments in my photography. Lots of red light at a concert and shooting Canon? Black and white!

The below photo had all sorts of crazy tints to it from the red light that was hitting her. I couldn't get it to work in colour. Switched the black and white, increase contrast and work with the whites, blacks and highlights and you can end up with a nice picture like the one below.

 Second Vocalist and Keys player. Canon 5d MKIII 1/100 f/2.8 ISO 3200 Canon 50mm f/1.4

Second Vocalist and Keys player. Canon 5d MKIII 1/100 f/2.8 ISO 3200 Canon 50mm f/1.4

Stopping Motion

We're lucky today with great cameras like top of the line Canons and Nikons. Noise performance is fantastic and shooting at high ISO is not a problem. I've had many people ask how to stop motion at a gig. There is no secret. High shutter speed. Start at around 1/125 and go up from there depending on how active your subjects are.

The below image is of the drummer; he was wild. His other band is a metal band and he calls this band his relaxing band. I wanted to get some motion blur of the his drumsticks but freeze his motion. The image was shot at ISO 8000

 Canon 5d MKIII 1/125 f/2.8 ISO 8000 Canon 70 - 200mmL IS II USM f2.8 @200mm

Canon 5d MKIII 1/125 f/2.8 ISO 8000 Canon 70 - 200mmL IS II USM f2.8 @200mm

 It's a little noisy, but that is at IS 12800. Canon 5d MKIII 1/125 f/2.8 ISO 12800 Canon 70 - 200mmL IS II USM f2.8 @ 70mm

It's a little noisy, but that is at IS 12800. Canon 5d MKIII 1/125 f/2.8 ISO 12800 Canon 70 - 200mmL IS II USM f2.8 @ 70mm

 Stopped with a slightly faster 1/160. Canon 5d MKIII 1/160 f/2.8 ISO 3200 Canon 50mm f/1.4

Stopped with a slightly faster 1/160. Canon 5d MKIII 1/160 f/2.8 ISO 3200 Canon 50mm f/1.4

In Summary

Shooting a concert checklist:

  • 1/125 shutter or higher for stopping motion
  • Spot Metering if you've got it
  • Manual mode to ensure full control
  • Fast(ish) lense
  • As high an ISO as you camera can comfortably handle (if required that is)

If you camera isn't a super performer, fear not. A Canon 50mm 1.4 is an inexpensive lense. The f/1.8 is even cheaper. Good glass is alwasy a priority for me. Do remember however, that shooting wide open can give you a very narrow depth of field, so be aware. Nikon, Sigma, Sony and other brands also offer reasonably priced fast prime lenses.

With regards to Coldmailman; cracking gig! I can highly recommend them. And a big thank you to Ivar (below) for being kind enough to bring me along.

 See what I mean about the reds? This one just made it.Canon 5d MKIII 1/125 f/2.8 ISO 6400 Canon 70 - 200mmL IS II USM f2.8 @95mm

See what I mean about the reds? This one just made it.Canon 5d MKIII 1/125 f/2.8 ISO 6400 Canon 70 - 200mmL IS II USM f2.8 @95mm