Warning: No great photos ahead. But I hope this will be useful to readers from a “here’s the mistakes I made, here’s what I have learned, what would you have done differently?” perspective.
The Stone Roses played Hong Kong tonight at the AsiaWorld Arena. This is the first concert I’ve been to since getting my Fuji X-Pro1. I asked my girlfriend to carry it in her handbag since I thought it would be too conspicuous if I carried a camera bag.
On entering the arena, they searched her bag and spotted the camera. They pointed to signs that said No DSLRs and No SLRs. I said, look how small the camera is, it’s not one of those, and they let us in with it.
Trying to shoot was a frustrating experience on many levels, not the least of which was that the security guards kept coming down any time they spotted anyone with a camera bigger than a mobile phone. This just makes zero sense to me.
Settings? I went with 1/125th of a second, because I thought that ought to be fast enough to capture most movement on stage. I went with ISO 6400 because I didn’t want to shoot wide open, hoping for at least some moderate depth of field. Aperture set to “A”.
For the metering, I chose spot focus, which was probably a mistake. I couldn’t hold the camera up to my eye for framing as I was worried about the security guards. Since I had an aisle seat, I put the camera on my leg, pointed it at the stage, LCD screen off and fingers covering the rear LED indicators. This meant that the “spot” was frequently not on the singer or the musicians but on the black backdrop and so on lots of shots the highlights are darned close to blown out.
Forget about focus. Jumping Jehosephat! The few times I could hold the viewfinder up to my eye, the Fuji 60mm F2.4 just hunted and hunted and when it stopped, more often than not it was making the wrong choice. You would think that contrast detection focus would work just fine when there’s a lead singer wearing a white shirt standing against a mostly black background. But noooooo. Neither S or C focus settings could bring me anything reasonable. So I had to go for manual focus. I did the best I could, trying to focus on Ian Brown when he was standing at the front and center part of the stage. But since I couldn’t hold the camera up to my eye, I couldn’t adjust focus as he moved around.
I don’t really have time to look at all my photos tonight. I’ve checked a few and if there’s a pro-quality shot there, it will be a miracle. Of the two dozen or so shots that I’ve looked at so far, here’s the one that’s the least bad:
Because I was doing spot metering and the camera was pointed at a black area, the shot ended up at F2.4. Focus is vaguely okay but the highlights were just about blown out and playing with the exposure, clarity, contrast, highlights and shadows sliders in Lightroom can’t bring back detail that’s not there in the first place.
Oh well. It was a good concert though. I never got to see the Stone Roses in their heyday so I’m glad I finally got to see them. Ian Brown still can’t sing on-key but John Squire was quite impressive live.