Since nowhere in London could sell it to me, I ended up buying the Canon EF 50mm f/1.4 lens from Amazon and, as if by design, it happened to arrive on the day I was to see Pure Reason Revolution play at Dingwalls in Camden. My main reason for selecting the lens was its low light ability (due to its wide aperture) and there are scarcely more extreme lighting conditions than at a gig. Time to test it out.
This was really my first attempt at gig photography and you can see the results in the Pure Reason Revolution gallery. These were my first few hours with the lens so I’m still learning how to use it. Interestingly a lot of my favourites are actually the more abstract/body shots towards the start. Capturing a concert is a considerably different skill and one that I’d like to hone. The general theme here was dark and moody with a lot of high contrast black and white shots, though I’d be keen to get more variety. The real issue with using this lens is that its lack of zoom means framing close-ups is virtually impossible unless you can position yourself right in front of the band, so it’s certainly not what professional concert photographers would choose. Dingwalls is a small venue with capacity for around 500 and it’s easy enough to get round the front/right side of the stage (particularly, it seems, if you’re carrying a sizeable camera as people happily let you through and even security give you space). While this offered a decent vantage point for the support acts (Of The I and The Domino State), PRR sadly set up their keyboards here, blocking clear shots. I’m generally less happy with those, but given they were the band I went to see I kind of had to include them!
The band had their new album on sale and hung around afterwards to sign copies too. Titled Amor Vincit Omnia, line up changes in the band are matched by a sound shift. Although still familiar, the new sound includes a lot more electronica and even some dancy beats in places. The result is a less ethereal record than The Dark Third. While still good live (if not quite as incredible as their old stuff stills sounds) my initial impression was that I would not be listening to the album very often. In fact the first half has really grown on me. It’s disappointing that later on there are a few tracks I will always skip over, since their debut is one of those wonderful albums I can happily listen the whole way through.
And as with every PRR gig I’ve been to so far, I bumped into Jon from uni. With him were Philly J and James, so it was great to catch up, grab a beer afterwards and get home far later than I’d intended. Great music, a nice first set of concert photos, a signed album and catching up with friends — if I can improve, gig photography might be a lark worth getting into.
That person is not what you think they’re like.
What you think they’re like is probably true, just not about them.
An interesting musing on truth in portrait photography from the BBC’s Genius of Photography. I liked it for its apparent contradiction, but the idea is that when you look at any portrait, what you are seeing isn’t that person but a photographer’s interpretation of them. So what you think they’re like is really true of either the character or the photographer. In fact sometimes a photographer is effectively creating a “self portrait” in the way they photograph someone else. I found myself particularly drawn to it having just ordered my new lens, the Canon EF 50mm f/1.4 I mentioned previously, from Amazon. Not without some inconvenience as my bank decided a £300 lens was an suspicious purchase, apparently ignoring the amount I’ve spent with Amazon recently. I suspect I will be using it almost exclusively for a while once it arrives.
The programme was immediately followed by Good Bye Lenin!, an excellent German film set in East Berlin around the time the Wall came down, about a son’s white lie to protect his mother which escalates out of control. Strangely I find myself associating it more with the USA, where I first saw it with Jenna in a mostly empty, freezing cinema, than with eastern Germany, despite having spent so much time there with Kirsten’s family over the past several years. It was the first time Jenna had seen a foreign film on the big screen, something hard to do in Baton Rouge, so I was sad to hear that cinema no longer exists. The film has that perfect balance of the tragic and comic which gives it a real emotional resonance in several scenes toward the end. Watching it late last night left me with a strange yearning for something that I can’t quite place.
The cutesy sounding IPKat blog is actually a very well respected source of news in the IP world and they’ve just published a well thought out rant about the creation of a Digital Rights Agency and why it’s an ill-conceived idea.
Tomine’s genius is to strip his medium of every possible type of grandiosity or indulgence, and the result is that life itself floods in.
Last week I was browsing Forbidden Planet’s signed books and came across Adrian Tomine, a graphic novelist with whom I was not familiar. His real world stories revolve around relationships and immediately evoke Daniel Clowes‘ Ghost World, in both visual style and socially awkward characters, although the subject matter is slightly less offbeat. I picked up signed copies of Shortcomings and Summer Blonde and devoured them in quick succession. Particularly interesting is Tomine’s often cinematic style in which the reader feels they are watching a scene through a camera, lingering with identical panels. Scene changes are often abrupt, occuring in the middle of a line, and many conversations are joined mid-flow. From context it is always easy to extract what has been discussed previously, but the precise words are left to the reader. As contemporary fiction that just happens to use a different medium, Tomine is subtle, intelligent, easy to read and highly recommended.
While I still love my current camera lens (a Canon EF 28-135mm f/3.5-5.6 IS) there are certain things it can’t do. The main issue is low-light shooting since I detest flashes. If the subject is stationary there is little problem, particularly with the lens’ image stablisation, but those of the organic variety do have a tendancy to move. The trade off is then blurry shots or dark images. In short: time for a secondary lens. It didn’t take much research to stumble upon Canon’s EF 50mm f/1.4, a prime lens (non-zoom) that is by all accounts beautifully crafted, letting in a huge amount of light and producing incredibly sharp images. Unfortunately I wouldn’t know. Nowhere in London has been able to sell me one. Because they don’t have any. If any photographers out there have a secret supplier please let me know.
A few days ago I mentioned the sudden expansion of Twitter as celebrity bloggers brought it into the mainstream. It becoming mainstream, while it may be less of a “club”, is no bad thing. The celebrities, however, might be. Stephen Fry and Jonathan Ross both have extraordinary numbers of followers but, while both being intelligent and witty people, neither really seems to have that much to say. Rather their feeds are filled with drivel, mostly pandering to people who want to receive that one personal message from their célébrité du jour. I am not saying I have found the perfect balance for my own Twitter feed, but I also know that there is enough background noise in my life without needing to add these kinds of celebrity microblogs.
I do have one on my list though: Neil Gaiman. It’s not that unnecessary minutiae do not appear in his, but the majority are interesting links related to his work and that of his acquaintances. If you must include celebrities, I strongly recommend TweetDeck which lets you organise the feeds of those you are following into multiple columns so you can separate out friends for example. By default it also keeps replies and direct messages separate so you can easily identify and respond to them. TweetDeck requires the Adobe Air platform to be installed.