I had the honor and privilege of photographing for my friend Elijah Sussman at his concert a few Fridays ago. It was an amazing musical experience that also feature guitarist/singer Kevin Long and the band Joy Kills Sorrow. Check out their music and follow Elijah to catch his upcoming album release!
Along with getting to listen to talented musicians, I was also able to practice photography in a unique situation with a unique piece of equipment. I expected some lighting challenges, since I had been there before, and the low-light sensitivity of my Canon 5D (original) is pretty technologically outdated. The stage lighting was moderately bright, but the lighting was predominantly red and mostly came directly from stage-left. Consequently, skin tones and shadows appeared unnatural and pretty unappealing in the original RAW files that I captured. Thankfully, the advanced white balancing and noise reduction algorithms in Lightroom 4 fixed most of the lighting issues.
And that unique piece of equipment? The Canon 70-200mm f/2.8L IS USM. I chose to rent this monster of a lens because of its f/2.8 speed, superior lens quality, patented Image Stabilizer, and flexible zoom range. Since the aperture remains at f/2.8 throughout its zoom range and it has professional-grade image stabilization, I was able to hand-hold the camera during all of my shots (which allowed me to move freely without whacking audience members with a tripod), keep the ISO down to 800 (which helped reduce image noise), keep the shutter speed fast (to avoid ugly blurring), and avoid using a disruptive flash (which wasn’t allowed by the bands anyway). After shooting with the 70-200mm, I was convinced that I wouldn’t have been able to get the shots that I wanted without it, and it was well worth the small rental fee. That being said, having the 3.24 lbs. of extra weight hanging off of my camera reminded me of all the online reviews that I’ve read, warning photographers that this lens is not ideal for long photo sessions.
Photo Tip: For any event, arrive early to scout the location and reserve the best vantage points for shooting. It also helps to introduce yourself to the managers of the venue and learn the rules and boundaries for photography.