Valeri Lopez & Andrea Hamilton

I had the opportunity to shoot a combined gig the other night with Valeri and Andrea at Bombs Away Cafe here in Corvallis.  Bombs (as the locals refer to it) is a great little restaurant / bar in its own right, featuring Mexican themed food with a good NW tap selection.

As for Valeri and Andrea – they are two twenty-something Christian singer / songwriters with stunning voices.  Had briefly met Valeri at a Passover celebration held annually by some mutual friends – but hadn’t the opportunity to chat with her – and Andrea I hadn’t met before.  Another mutual friend connected us for the shoot (thanks, Michelle!).  As for the night’s images, well, it was dark in there – and the available light was funky.  The “focused” light on stage came from two clamp lights from the local neighborhood big-box home improvement store with gels on them (blue on one & red on the other) along with rope lighting wrapped over branches hanging from the ceiling (can’t make stuff like this up).  There was some other lighting in the place – but it wasn’t really where I could use it.  And for the color shots – it actually created two zones for white balance.  Weird.

Typical of my light gear list – I only brought the 24mm f/2.8 on the 20D.  I kind of wished I’d thrown in the 50mm f/1.8 (even with its broken auto / manual focus switch) – probably could have used a different perspective.  Typically for gigs – I go with available light (didn’t even bring the flash) – as musicians in small venues don’t really like flash – and it’s pretty distracting for the audience.  I was shooting ISO 800 or 1600 – and that was often at f/2.8 with a shutter speed of 1/20 or 1/25 (handheld).  Yeah, pretty slow – but just trying to get as many photons on that sensor as possible.  I battled noise and pulled out the trusty Noise Ninja.  Lost some dynamic range shooting at the high ISO settings.  Also – these are nice gals – and delivering gritty B&W or super color-saturated images just doesn’t seem right for some reason.  Morally wrong?  Well, no – but it just feels funny.  We’ll have to wait and see what they think.

So, in self defense (against grim, funky lighting), I flipped on “photojournalism” – but to be honest – it’s not quite what I pictured going into this shoot.

They say (you know, those “they”) it’s not about the gear, it’s about the photographer.  And in many cases, “they” are right.  But – there are times when you simply must sink cash into the gear to get the compelling shot.  After reviewing these images – I have to say that I can see the case for something like a Nikon D3 (don’t tell my Nikon friends that I just typed that) – I can hope that something like the 50D delivers with that ISO 12800.

To that – I think there might be a couple of reasonable shots – but I have to say – I was hoping for a bit more.  Maybe they’ll let me try again?  Here’s a few – let me know what you think.  -Jones

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