On my last day in the UK, I had the opportunity to take some photos of a really fantastic band that were performing at our local Country Music club.
Known for their love of great music, and a very classy sense of style, I was toying with the idea of trying something a little different capturing both the atmosphere of their work and what I thought would look great – moody images, incorporating lots and lots of grain.
My initial thought process here was quiet simple; the club would be very dark, meaning that to hand hold my camera I would need; the widest aperture I could achieve (between f3 and f5.6), fairly slow shutter speeds (sometimes as low as 1/20) and a very high ISO (up to my camera’s maximum of ISO12800). I wanted to hand hold my camera as this gave me the freedom to move around, which would have been limited if using a tripod, and I wanted to try and capture some form of movement, especially of the musicians playing their instruments. I was also interested in getting some different angles during the shoot and not specifically images that could be classed as ‘the norm’.
Getting permission from the guys was easy, they are a friendly bunch and not shy of a little publicity, but I did not divulge my intentions to them, as I knew the evening would be a work in progress. I must admit, at first I was looking to shoot in both colour and black-and-white, but after taking a few test shots I could see that the colour balance would be tricky to master, even when shooting in Auto, which I was doing, and as the high ISO made things very grainy, I soon decided to switch to thinking in mono.
I did not feel that this change in direction would be an issue, as the band’s theme is 1950’s Rock n Roll, with a good mix of country music thrown in for good measure, so I thought that grainy black and white images would suite them well, and I must admit that the images turned out better than I expected them too.
It was a little tricky getting images that were not blurred or too dark, but I managed to get a decent selection of shots, which suited my camera settings well.
To compensate for the tricky conditions, I had to be careful with my choice of shot, so images I kept an eye out for included images that showed movement, such as this shot of the double-bass play.
The double base is nicely in focus, but you can see the movement of the player’s body, as well as the movement of his hand as he bangs out the cords.
I know that most of this image is either blurred by movement, or out of focus partly due to the noise present, but the double bass, being the point of focus for this image, is in focus and that, I think, is why the shot works well.
Another image that works is this one of the guitarists; taken head-on, I like the way that one musician is bathed in light, while the other is cast in shadow and only just visible within the frame.
Again, the grain works in this shot; really adding to the atmosphere, I feel like I could be in an American Honky-tonk bar, back in the day …
The final image I want to share (and you will see why below) was taken near the beginning of the evening; the band had finished their sound-check, and was away getting changed before their gig. Liking the way their instruments have been arranged, I feel that it symbolises both the unity within the group as well as the unity of their music.
Given the chance, I would like to change the background of this image as I feel that the inclusion of the person really spoils the shot. Unfortunately I did not get the opportunity for a re-take, there was always someone milling around so the area was never completely clear.
In hindsight, I suppose I could have cloned the guy out, but that would go against all that I hold dear about photography, so this action of post-processing was never going to be a viable option.
I shared my work with the band, they were really pleased with what I had produced and you can imagine my surprise when they decided to use one of my images in a publicity poster for an upcoming event.
As you can see, this has been slightly altered from the original, but that is okay as I am truly honoured that the band liked my work from the night and wanted to utilise one of my photographs.
If you would like to see other images taken on the night, they can be found under the “Doggone Honkabillies” page of the Photos I have Taken tab above.