working methods - how do you shoot?

Discussion in 'Open Discussion' started by kevinparis, May 19, 2013.

  1. kevinparis

    kevinparis Cantankerous Scotsman Subscribing Member

    Feb 12, 2010
    Gent, Belgium
    How I have been shooting - this week

    Apologies for the long post, but wanted to share my current way of working.

    I have had a busy week…for me…. on Wednesday I shot at a local bar where they have a regular Blues night, and on Friday I shot a poetry/art/music event.

    Hotsy Totsy May - a set on Flickr

    De Wolven van La Mancha May - a set on Flickr

    In total I took 1200 pictures of which 500 were outright deleted (really bad focus, missed shot etc) and of the rest, 100 were selected, processed and put up on Flickr in 2 sets and have now been viewed collectively 5000 times.

    Now I realise , that this isn't how everybody chooses to approach their photography, for some it is more personal, for others it is more technical and considered, but at the end of the day the purpose of having a camera is to allow you to take images, and to me, more importantly share them and hopefully communicate something to your audience

    I am a great believer in the old Gary Player saying "The more I practice, the luckier I get', so I have found that by pushing myself into doing these kind of events that aspects of my photography have improved, and I have had a lot of fun and made new friends as well.

    Below I have broken down the process I have gone through, and open it up for discussion/inspiration

    Finding the gig
    I am lucky that I have a friendly, interesting bar 5 minutes from my apartment, that by chance I discovered held frequent music nights. But I am sure every community will have a bar, a theatrical society or a sports club that will provide photographic opportunities, and would welcome having access to interesting photographs for their own purposes.

    Approach the owner/responsible person and introduce yourself - maybe take some examples of your photography along. Maybe have a business card - do a nice thing where you can get 50 business cards with your photos on. I have ones with my name, phone, email and link to my flickr page, and while it may seem a little thing , the act of having a card does increase your credibility.

    Choosing the tools
    Shooting event like this usually means you have to be nimble, so a lightweight 'efficient' kit is a big benefit.

    Currenty I go out with an OMD, at least one spare battery, and actually usually only a 16Gb card in the camera….good for 800 plus shots, shooting RAW.

    As far as lenses goes, I now usually just take the 17/1.8, the 25/1.4 and the 75. I need the speed, and I find that with these 3 lenses I can get the shots I want. Yes it involves quite a bit of lens changing… but hey thats why you bought an interchangeable lens camera :) . Three lenses seems to me an optimal number to carry, that means 2 in the bag at any time, and a simpler set of decisions for you to make

    I carry everything in a Domke f5xz, which is a great little messenger style bag, that holds all the lenses, and the camera too if needed. It can be stashed away easily at a gig, and doesn't get in the way if you are trying to squeeze through a crowd.

    I did take my partners Leica M9 as well as the OMD to the wednesday night gig… and got a couple of shots I was pleased with,

    L1001370 by kevinparis, on Flickr

    but overall it wasn't the right tool - in my hands - for the job. The High ISO was not as good, the rangefinder focusing isn't really suited to a constantly moving subject, and wide open the DOF is just too narrow. To my eye and for my uses at least, the OMD and primes is certainly on the same playing field as the Leica

    P5150127 by kevinparis, on Flickr


    I generally shoot, Aperture priority, spot or centre weighted metering, and usually auto ISO with an upper limit of 5000 ISO. The places I shoot don't have optimal lighting, and I tend not to pay attention to WB, but this is maybe an area I will work on. I shoot single shot often using half press to lock the SF focus and recompose if needed.

    Try not to get stuck in one position, but rather move around as much as you can. Try getting low down, try holding the camera above your head and use the LCD.

    But most importantly keep taking shots… do an occasional review just to make sure your settings are working, and shoot some more. If you are doing it right you should be tired at the end of the evening.. and if you are 50+ unfit guy like me, you will probably have a few muscle aches - but not as many as if you had tried the same thing with a Canon 5D :) 

    Sorting and processing

    Usually, I import as soon as I get home. I use Aperture for all my work.Nothing I have tried comes close in terms of speed and efficiency.

    I will go through all the shots very quickly, marking for deletion all the obvious bad ones. I will usually then go to bed and the next morning go through the remaining shots again, marking with 5 star the ones to work on. Then I will start going through them again, and starting to process some of them. I keep my processing simple, no presets, no fancy filters, just looking at the histogram and understanding what the various sliders/curves actually do. As I am going through them again, I will demote those that on a second look don't quite work, or more importantly, don't add to 'the story'.

    Working with Aperture this is all very fluid - there is no seperate develop module, everything you want to do is up there on the screen, and you will quickly learn the shortcuts.


    Usually after a couple of hours maximum, I will have a set of 30-50 photos which I will post up onto Flickr, straight from Aperture.

    The bar I shoot in, as well as many of the musicians have Facebook pages, so I will post links to the Flickr set on their pages. Its important to do this as quickly as possible after the event, to catch the afterglow of enthusiasm.

    The point of going this extra step is about networking and self promotion, because if you can deliver good quality images that people can connect with quickly, then often other opportunities will arise.

    From the first blues night last year, I have been asked to take photos for a record cover, had my pictures used in posters, appeared in local newspaper. The poetry night - which is something I would never have considered- came about because the bar owner liked my photos and asked me to come along.

    Now I am not taking any money for this.. I get the occasional free beer, but it is a lot of fun

    OK long ramble over. Comments and criticism welcome
  2. RT_Panther

    RT_Panther Mu-43 Legend

    May 4, 2011
    Great approach! :thumbup:

    I've always wanted to do bar/band (jazz) photography myself but - currently have too many things going on.
  3. Steven

    Steven Mu-43 All-Pro

    May 25, 2012
    Very cool photos. Thanks for sharing your strategy.

    I also like live music and being able to capture the performances on digital film is one of the reasons I upgraded to m43 after using point and shoot cameras.
    I still find m43, well Gx1 that I use in particular not really up to task for higher ISo work required in these settings. Quite incidentally I discovered that's less of a problem for video and Gx1 is pretty good in recording quite good full sounding audio , which for music is almost as important as video.
    Smaller independent local bands really appreciate the recordings. I try to post a link on the band's Facebook page and they do get quite a few hits thru YouTube.
    I was recently asked to shoot a concert video for one such local group. I tried very hard to get out of it because I have zero post processing skills with video and with a single camera with a prime only I am afraid it would be pretty boring. I really do need a bright zoom like the Panasonics :) 
  4. kevinparis

    kevinparis Cantankerous Scotsman Subscribing Member

    Feb 12, 2010
    Gent, Belgium
    A whole concert with one camera is tricky... but a song from a concert is doable

    I did this with a GH2 and a 45mm lens.

    The trick is to have a separate audio recording and video editing software that makes it easy to sync the sound the camera records with the master audio recording , the bands audio guy might be able to help there. I just had a separate recorder and mic set up.

    I then just shot one long shot during the song, moving around, trying to get the singer and the guitarist at the appropriate points.. not worrying about the move fro one shot to the next, just making sure you hold each shot for 5 seconds or so

    then during subsequent songs I shot what is called B roll - things like close ups of drums, fingers on fret board etc... you could also do reaction shots from the audience...

    when I was in the editing app I synced the camera audio with the master, then muted the camera audio - then I deleted the bad bits where I was panning from singer to guitarist, and filled the spaces with the B-roll stuff.

    my example isn't perfect, but the principles are the same


  5. Savas K

    Savas K Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Jan 10, 2013
    It is a labor of love, Kevin.
  6. lovemyoly

    lovemyoly Mu-43 Rookie

    Oct 7, 2012
    Outstanding post!

    Many thanks!
  7. mnhoj

    mnhoj There and back again

    Dec 3, 2011
    Los Angeles
    John M
    Well executed, very informative, and your writing has a nice easy flow to it.

    I also really like the mood/expressions caught in your subject.
  8. NikkoExiledInSF

    NikkoExiledInSF Mu-43 Regular

    Feb 8, 2011
    Wiltshire, UK
    Kevin - absolutely loved your two sets, top job! Normally I find music shots boring to look at but your bar crowd are a very interesting and photogenic crowd. What's the address again?

    +1 for Aperture but at the beginning of the year I bought the full set of Nik plug-ins and absolutely love them for speed and control. Check 'em out.

  9. kevinparis

    kevinparis Cantankerous Scotsman Subscribing Member

    Feb 12, 2010
    Gent, Belgium

    I am very aware of the Nik plug ins and they do a wonderful job.. but prefer another path

    the bar is the hotssy totsy in gent Belgium... a very fine bar indeed

  10. kevinparis

    kevinparis Cantankerous Scotsman Subscribing Member

    Feb 12, 2010
    Gent, Belgium

    I did the post because I realised that I had got a lot of positive feedback for my photos over these 2 events and that it wasn't my 'equipment' that made them interested and I thought it might be useful to feed back to this community that its not aways just about the gear, but how you approach a situation and how you share the results that is important

  11. rparmar

    rparmar Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Jun 14, 2011
    Limerick, Ireland
    Thanks for sharing your perspective. I have a very different approach, taking very few frames, waiting for a good moment. And if there is no great moment, I make do, since I don't need to see 50 shots that are almost identical.

    As an example I'll use Sunday last, when I shot a gig involving no fewer than 11 different performers. Between my wife and I we shot 75 frames. Of these I chose 17, which you can see in this Flickr set.

    I think that's plenty to convey the event and be sure everyone is represented.

    Just an alternative point of view. :) 
  12. aukirk

    aukirk Mu-43 Regular

    Sep 9, 2012
    Thanks so much for sharing... I wish there were more of these types of posts. Would be great to see a dedicated forum on for sharing "sets" with a description of the process and what went into the shoot.
  13. kevinparis

    kevinparis Cantankerous Scotsman Subscribing Member

    Feb 12, 2010
    Gent, Belgium
    Looked like an interesting gig.... though I am not sure you got the best out of it... everything was a bit remote and detached - maybe thats the vibe you were seeking.

    Also noted that you hadn't shared the images on the groups Facebook page - the obvious audience for you images

    as you said, there are always alternative points of view.


  14. rparmar

    rparmar Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Jun 14, 2011
    Limerick, Ireland
    It was that kind of a gig... abstract noise and micromusic.

    Not sure what you mean here. I have shared to several individual performers. (Many are not on Facebook.) There is no group page. :confused: 
  15. DeeJayK

    DeeJayK Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Feb 8, 2011
    Pacific Northwest, USA
    This approaches heresy, Kevin, tread carefully. :wink:

    Thanks for sharing your process. It was an enjoyable read and contained much useful wisdom.
  16. Talanis

    Talanis Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Oct 15, 2012
    Sherbrooke, Canada
    Eric Cote
    I did not read all the comments but there's one thing I see missing from your workflow. I don't know if you skip it or just forgot to write about it. It's the keywording phase. For me, it's an essential process. Keywords + Exif help me finding photos quickly.

    It's fun to see how other people do it. Mine looks a bit like yours.

    EDIT: Very nice pictures :) 
  17. kevinparis

    kevinparis Cantankerous Scotsman Subscribing Member

    Feb 12, 2010
    Gent, Belgium

    is this not the same group/organization ?


  18. kevinparis

    kevinparis Cantankerous Scotsman Subscribing Member

    Feb 12, 2010
    Gent, Belgium

    Not big on keywording

    basically the shots go into a project for that event, and those are nested inside a year folder... thats enough for my needs


  19. aukirk

    aukirk Mu-43 Regular

    Sep 9, 2012
    I also don't do keywords... I have enough trouble finding time to edit photos... I break them down by event inside of month folders within a year... it often takes some hunting to find photos I remember, but can usually find them.

    It would be nice to have keywords to pull together all related photos across multiple events (i.e. all involving my sister's family or my son's school friends, etc.) but I just never get to this. (Maybe if those keywords synced from Aperture to SmugMug I would find the time)
  20. rparmar

    rparmar Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Jun 14, 2011
    Limerick, Ireland
    Hey, thanks. A rather under-used group... and no-one has ever invited me. But yes, it is the right group of people. Hilarious I would find out about it here!

    This is a good example of how Facebook creates ghettos with their new policy on limited post distribution.
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