Music Concert Lighting

This post is not actually for the photographers, it’s for all the lighting techs and lighting techs in training (hopefully a few lecturers will read it also). Especially for the techs at small venues.

Before I go on to the post proper, I need to explain that I totally understand the job of the lighting is to produce a show for the gig goers, the fans, the audience. There is a reason the large bands tour with huge lighting rigs and show; it is to provoke and enhance the atmosphere, to elevate beyond just a person or band standing on a stage performing. I know that. This is beyond doubt.

However before an act reaches the levels where they can afford to go on tour with their own crew and rig, the venue technician is usually the person responsible for how the act looks on stage and as that person you should have a few other considerations.

The acts you are dealing with are normally trying to establish themselves, they want or need reviews, be they on websites, bloggers, or in local or even national press, they need to get thier name out there. When it comes to reviews, pictures help, great images can grab attention, they can promote a review from a lesser spot to a more prominent one, a reader may stop and read a review based on the image.

Anyone involved in gigs knows the rules “first 3 and out, no flash”.

So put basically, if there are photographers or videographers in the house you have 3 songs to make your act look great. After the first 3 you can do everything to build the atmosphere but the first 3, why not help the artist?

(Ok I know there are artists that don’t like photographers or who want to be in the dark, to them, I refer to the paragraph above)

So how can you help?

  • Turn the lights on! Pitch black does not really help!
  • LED colour washes look really bad on camera!
  • Add a bit of white to the front, even if you have heavy back lighting or colour washes
  • Front/Side lighting works! Flat washes are boring.

What do I mean about the LED colour washes? Well put on that yellow or blue colour wash that seems to be the “flavour of the month” at the moment. Now stand where the artist will be and take a selfie on your phone? How does it look? Let’s just say not flattering! Compared to the filtered incandescent lamps of old, LED lights produce a really intense colour that might look great from the back of the room but from the pit, on camera, it’s probably one of the least flattering looks there is. Modern camera sensors have a real issue dealing with it and it’s tricky to dial out. Adding some white from the front on the artist makes all the difference and the rest of the stage still looks great from the audience.

Backlight Colour Wash – Straight from the camera
Zithulele ‘Jovi’ Zabani Nkosi of BCUC (Bantu Continua Uhuru Consciousness) photographed during the 40th WOMAD (World of Music arts and Dance)- It takes a LOT of effort to get it like this and its still not flattering
Kae Tempest photographed during the 40th WOMAD (World of Music arts and Dance) – A bit of front light makes ALL the difference!

You might think I’m writing this just to make my life easier in the pit. I am but because I want to produce great flattering photos. I’m not a kid, I’ve been doing this for a while and whilst there are many more experienced photographers shooting with the big names out there, I’ve been doing this in the smallest and largest venues there are for quite a while and the bottom line is, good photos help everyone in the business!

So the next time you light a venue, have a think about those first 3. Any photographers in there? Do your act and the venue that employs you a favour..

Until the next post.

J

Primed for WOMAD

Loaded and ready to go (iPhone)

If you have read this blog for a long time or if you follow me on social media you will know I ride a motorbike and do not drive a car. This means if I choose to go to a festival and camp on the bike, I need to pack carefully. Some would say, right take 2 zooms, 16-55 & the 50-140 however one of the reasons I go to WOMAD is i don’t know what I’m going to get, which acts might become more relevant to press or who will be reviewed therefore I go with no pressure, no expectation, just having the aim of producing lovely images (there is always lots of colour here).

So my packing was 2 x X-T3, a 14/2.8, the 35/1.4 , a 56/1.2 & 90/2.0

Add to that a small tent, minimal wardrobe and the MT-07 is loaded.

Fatoumata Diawara – 56/1.2

Taking prime lenses means I have to work (slightly) harder to get the images, working the angles but this makes me think and slow down and think about how I want to portray the act.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again “there is no point having fast lenses if you shoot with them closed down all the time” so probably 90% of my images are shot wide open

Japanese vocal performer Hatis Noit – 90/2.0
Japanese vocal performer Hatis Noit – 56/1.2

Japanese vocal performer Hatis Noit was a joy to shoot – bright colours, amazing shapes and lighting that shouted “play with me” and with the 90 on camera and the 56 on the other I obliged with both lenses rendering the colours (in Astia profile) really nicely with (the 56 mainly) beautiful flare.

Kae Tempest – 56/1.2

Kae’s set was in complete contrast, more simple, stark and emotional

Fun of the fair – 35/1.4 @ F2 / 1/25th

I was sad to read the demise of regular visitor Carters Steam Fair and although the modern replacements are colourful, making lovely images, I feel they are just too brash, not meeting the the atmosphere of the festival.

Wayne Coyne – 56/1.2

The 56 is well touted as a great portrait lens – shooting wide open with eye tracking as I did for this backstage portrait of Wayne Coyne, lead singer and songwriter of the Flaming Lips, renders the background and even the hair lovely sand soft ensuring the eyes and face get all of the views attention.

Taiwanese contemporary dance troupe B.Dance – 14mm/3.6

The 14mm was useful a few times none more so that with Taiwanese contemporary dance troupe B.Dance, closing the aperture down slightly to keep them all in focus.

Im writing this on the Sunday morning before I shoot the acts of the last day, (the super efficient workflow you have been reading about 🤪 means I am totally up to date with my editing and sending) .

I think the images from the first 3 days give a good enough flavour how I use (and am inspired by the quality of) the Fuji prime lenses.

I have tried not to use the same images as I have posted on my social media channels in this post so if you do not follow me, there are links elsewhere on the page.

So, break out the primes, don’t just twist, use your feet and brain, and go create some images.. I look forward to seeing them.

More soon..

X-H2s – 4 jobs in

Ok, I know I said a few posts back “no camera reviews” , however – a few thoughts….

At the time of writing (a week or so ago), I had completed 4 “proper” jobs with the new flagship camera. Below are some images and thoughts from 3 of these jobs:

  • Kermode 3D at the BFI
  • Mabel at Somerset House
  • Bullet Train Gala

The above image is Nick, running the clips on the Kermode show at the BFI. He’s only lit by his laptop, no house lights. He is laughing (hence movement blur on the face). The camera had absolutely no problem locking onto his eyes. The technical details are below.

Face tracking and IBIS in the (very) dark
Face tracking and IBIS in the (very) dark

I’m closer this time – the eye tracking locked onto Nick’s eye despite so much of the face being covered.

The next job was Mabel performing at Somerset House. Shooting with the 90mm fully open on AF-C, face tracking. No issues with the flashing lights, dancers, fast movement or profile shots.

I’m still trying to get used to the button layout but as my camera’s are in Manual mode 90% of the time, the P-A-S-M dial is not an issue. That said I find it really annoying that in Manual mode I cannot re-assign the front command dial to roll the ISO as then it would match my X-T3’s and be far faster to adjust. When most of my lenses have aperture rings it really makes no sense to dedicate this dial to aperture!

The last of the 3 jobs was the Bullet Train UK gala screening. For this I used the X-H2s with the 100-400 for headshots. The eye tracking always found its target – tracking accurately as they walked and moved, even finding Brad Pitt’s eye on a 3/4 rear view (i.e. the dip in the profile where the eye was as he turned – i am wondering if it was the reflection on the sunglasses!)

Overall this camera is a HUGE step up from any of the other Fujifilm cameras with subject tracking that can be relied on at speed. Additionally although the CFExpress cards are expensive – seeing the RAW files download in a fraction of the time that it takes to download JPG images from the SD, the switch is positive.

Happy shooting and back to the Workflow with the next post.

Getting images out of ShutterSnitch (workflow pt. 7)

A very short post on how to get the images out of ShutterSnitch and on to a main PC. The app, when running offers two methods of connection: FTP or Webdav (accessible using Finder on a mac). The username and connection settings are shown in the main settings dialog for ShutterSnitch, it is this username plus the password configured when the ShutterSnitch was first set up that are used to connect.

ShutterSnitch only shares the current image collection (hence me putting into a single collection) so confirm the settings as above and then switch to the collection to transfer before attempting to connect.

Here I am using the Connect to Server tool from the Go menu in finder on my MacBook. Note the use of the webdav port listed above in conjunction of the IP address of the iPad setting on the WiFi network (the IP address for the iPad can be found by using the i icon in the network settings.

The image files are listed as expected and copy/paste etc can be used to copy them into the required folder. Once copied ok, I delete them.

This image shows the images in Photomechanic after copying.

I do not actually add the images I send vis ShutterSnitch into my Lightroom Library, the sent ones I keep just as an archive of images “just in case”. My main Library/Archive is maintained by synchronising Lightroom Mobile to my MacBook based main library before carrying out a minimum number of housekeeping steps before they are filed away.

The next post will detail these housekeeping steps before I move on to other tools use in my Workflow.

As ever,, any questions or thoughts? Get in Touch!

Putting it all together (Workflow pt. 6)

Camera, Images, Action !!

To paraphrase a well known saying. If you have followed these last few posts you will know that we are sending images from Lightroom Mobile to ShutterSnitch where we have configured Metadata & FTP locations to send the images to. Now lets tie it all together.

Accessing the gear icon for the actions.

The sliding arrow points to the action that will be applied to each image as it arrives in the application. So what does this particular action do?

That action on my system, changes the file name to suit the destination (I wont break this down – it should be self evident once you add this task to your action) then it applies one of the Metadata presets (as I showed a few posts back). Finally it exports to the FTP location.

The clever bit being that if the send to the location is a success , the action “Sent Alamy” is also run. What does that do?

It applies another Metadata Preset (one that only sets the rating and label).

Then it moves the image to another collection “ALL SENT”

This (hopefully) leaves the initial collection empty as all the images move out of it as they are sent. Any that do remain need re-sending.

The final 2 images of this post show Lightroom and ShutterSnitch sitting side by side on the iPad screen (use the 3 dots to set up split screen view) allowing editing to continue as ShutterSnitch sends.

This post ends the workflow as it is on the iPad itself. The next post will start to look at how I work on the desktop, moving the images off of the iPad, consolidating the images in the main library and other processes that have really advanced my workflow. (Beware – Lightroom plugin’s ahoy!)

Any comment or questions – get in touch!

Quick FTP Setup of ShutterSnitch (Workflow pt 4.5)

This post is just going to be a very quick How To configure sending images to an FTP server.,

I mentioned previously that the key to this app are the Actions and this is where we need to head to configure sending. Use the gear icon in the collection to access then click Edit.

Create a new task

Name it then click + at add a task

The only task we are going to add (at this stage) is to Export to a Location

Next the list of available locations are listed. (So we can define a number of locations – have listed a number of agencies, folders etc). Click Edit to create a new one and the green + next to FTP.

Enter the FTP details required (probably provided by the agency, client etc).

Note we can configure particular processes to happen as part of the sending task for example sending a re-sized version of the image or kicking off additional tasks if the send was successful.

The next post will put the metadata and sending posts into an action that handles the image as it arrives in ShutterSnitch.

I look forward to your comments.

Have You Meta data ? (iPad Workflow pt 4)

This post is a duplicate from one a few years ago but with some additional ideas for using collection names with a few more examples showing how flexible the system is.

From our last post we are at a point where we have exporting images from Lightroom to a collection of images in ShutterSnitch with key information (main image description) in the title field.

Note: I have totally skipped actions which ShutterSnitch may apply to arriving images at this point – if you have actions defined, for the sake of setting up the MetaData, ensure “Do Nothing” is selected. This will make sense later.

The first issue is, where do we start with our data? Can we start with Photomechanic? The answer to this is yes we can. I export the XMP from PM into Dropbox and then on the iPAD, export the file into ShutterSnitch.

Note: If starting from a Photomechanic template, the variables will need replacing as the syntax is different.

Select file in DropBox / Export / Copy to Shutter / Create a Preset

The i Icon on the top toolbar switches ShutterSnitch to the Metadata Editor.

The Metadata Editor

As shown in the above images there are a number of options along the lower screen. The left-most tool is the Preset Editor

The choices are just to select a preset or use the Edit button to edit the presets available (the usual iOS left swipe to delete) or click to edit. Hold down to duplicate an existing preset.

First a basic preset of mine (from a Kermode 3D show) where the caption is automatically built from the Title (as added in Lightroom) and a number of other fields. For this show I know the location and all the other details. The only things that change are the subject/person. In the image (Title) and the Date.

The blue circle tick to the right indicates wether the field is applied in the preset, so as we are using the title field from Lightroom this is unticked next to the Title/Object. Notice the %%titleObject%% – this is a variable .

There are far fewer in ShutterSnitch. They may be accessed from the tool hi-lighted above. Below is a typical preset driven by the Title/Object Name field with the date automatically added also.

Headline, Caption, Keywords and other metadata in the preset.

And the next example is the template I used at Glastonbury this year. Note. That I have brought the %%colname%% variable into play (Collection name). This gave me the simple solution for ever changing locations (or events), multiple image collections, one for each stage or location, sending images from Lightroom direct into the correct collection building a complex caption.

Hint: As we are driving the Title / Object Name from Lightroom, all of the above preset(s) could be applied to all images when selected and a quick check as you flick through will reveal all of the fields set. Alternatively they could be applied through an action automatically as the image(s) arrive from Lightroom (hint!)

Once the preset is created, other tools are available in the editor. Quick select strings (which are field sensitive, so create them in the Title field if that is where you plan to insert them) may be created and selected.

This enables a list to be built, maybe copying and pasting from a website before the event

Use Split Screen on the iPAD to Copy/Paste into Quick Select Strings

The final options are Shortcodes.

Press and hold to edit the available lists. Creating new Sets and editing are fairly straightforward.

In use Shortcodes are slightly less usable than in Photomechanic as after entering the code (however many letters you use), the Icon (tee-shirt) needs a quick click for the software to expand the code to it’s full length. Shortcodes do, however save on spelling errors and incorrectly titled subjects.

Once the metadata is added the images can be sent (most likely using FTP ). The next post will look at configuring the FTP before we start putting it all together in an action that automates the whole process.

More Soon. As ever – let me know what you think.

iPad Workflow Part 2

This post is really just a re-write of an earlier post (here) and to be honest this part of the workflow has not changed much although I will add a few more notes.

Having imported the images into a separate folder (as covered in the last post here) , I set a filter to show only the unflagged photos.

This means that once I have finished with an image (at this stage) it disappears from view. The shortcut keys X & P work the same on the iPad / Lightroom Mobile as they do on the desktop (reject & pick) so hitting X means I am straight on to the next image. If the image is a pick, I complete the edit first before labelling it as a picked image (this is where having a keyboard on the iPad makes a huge difference).

Note: There is no need to switch into any other view or mode, the X & P keys work in the edit screen (shown below)

My Presets – replicates my Lightroom Classic

One of the key features of editing in Lightroom are the develop presets. My mobile presets mimic my desktop (Lightroom Classic) presets. However getting these presets from your desktop to iPad is not the simplest procedure. There are basically 2 options.

Use an image (or number of images) that are synchronised between the devices:

  • In LR Classic (desktop), apply the preset to transfer to an image.
  • Wait for that image edit to synchronise onto the iPad.
  • On the iPad, select the image & Create preset using the current settings

Use Lightroom CC on the desktop to import develop presets

  • The Adobe Photography plan includes the Lightroom CC version
  • Download this to your desktop/laptop in addition to the Classic version
  • Open Lightroom Classic and view the Presets Settings in the preferences to show the presets folder. (Once you have the folder you can close this application).
  • Open Lightroom CC, From the file menu Import Profiles & Presets
  • Select the presets from the folder found above.
  • The presets will synchronise.

I always start and edit with one of my standard presets then tweak it. Another shortcut here is the cmd-c / cmd-v (copy/paste) which works for develop settings again, as on the desktop. So once I have the image as I like it, I cmd-c copy the develop settings (a window displays confirming which settings I wish to copy).

Copy Settings

Cmd-v asks no such questions and just pastes those settings on to the current image

One of the things I don’t understand is that Adobe have implemented some of the keyboard shortcuts but not all of them. I.e. why is cmd-z for undo not implemented? Or R for resize. See this post in the support community.

Depending on the specific job, I either add a title in the metadata now, before selecting pick or I pick and run through all of the images once I have edited them all, adding the title to the metadata. To edit the metadata, select the I icon at the lower right.

Note: I only add the title. The caption is generated at a later step.

Once the title is added, I select P to pick before moving on to the next image. Repeat until all of the images have been viewed.

No more unflagged photos

The full range of Lightroom edit controls are available (Geometry, Noise Reduction, Sharpening etc) so these is no reason that the editing process should be any different to how it is on a desktop. For those of you that are worried about the speed of editing, my M1 iPad Pro is way more responsive editing the 50MP Raw files produced by my GFX than my 2019 15” MBP.

If there is anything else you want to do to the image(s) which you cannot do in Lightroom (for example montaging images together), the share button has an edit in photoshop tool. Photoshop on the iPad is a tool that is developing quickly, it in no way matches its desktop version yet but it does feature layers, layer masks and adjustment layers, working well with lightroom.

Editing & Export Options

This sums up my image selection and editing process. The next stage is to export the images (accessed from the share button) – which will be the subject of the next post (scheduled for Monday next week)

In the meantime, if you have any questions or would just like to comment , would love to hear your thoughts, especially if you have another way of doing this.

Until Monday ..