Chanel at Zach Theater's "Songs Under the Stars" concert.
An amazing voice coupled with a wonderful stage presence.
I can't remember a busier time in the last couple of years. I've been photographing concerts, lawyers, doctors, bio-tech products and demos and an endless stream of performance videos for the last couple of months. I'm ready for a work break. Maybe a trip to Teralingua.
Last night was a night to go a little retro. I was asked to photograph Chanel's show at Zach Theatre for their outdoor concert series. I was delighted to be able to do so. It was a relaxed and chilled out evening and that was in stark contrast to the pervasive angst many people are experiencing because of the election drama. I showed up for our outdoor concert, grabbed a box of buttery popcorn from the concession stand, along with a plastic cup of Cabernet Sauvignon (and a straw....) and grabbed my little square of space. It's a space where I can see all the angles of the main and secondary stage but not be in any audience member's line of sight.
I preset my cameras and munched fresh, hot popcorn as the temperature dropped into the delicious 60's. If my tripod actually had a cup holder I would have put my wine there but I didn't even bring a tripod so even my libation was strictly handheld. I do find it impossible to shoot well with a camera+long lens in one hand and a beverage in the other so I parked the wine cup on the ground, next to my extra camera. I figured they could keep each other company.
I didn't want to carry in a bunch of camera gear because I'm getting lazy and jaded and starting to believe my own propaganda about the photographer being much more important than the gear. Instead of the big S1x cameras and their ponderous (but exquisite) lenses I chose to shoot the entire show with a doddering old Panasonic GH5 (firmware 2.7) and the newly acquired Pana/Leica 50-200mm f2.8-4.0. As an acknowledgment of the high magnification of the lens I grudgingly pulled an ancient monopod from the cargo areas of America's most coveted high performance car, the Subaru Forster. I used it for almost every shot, flurry of shots, collection of images, etc. Belinda gave me that favored monopod for my birthday in 1980. Remind me to tell you about it. Wow. A forty year old piece of photo gear.
Old habits die hard so I brought along a Panasonic G9, and the other Pana/Leica lens I use; the 12-60mm f2.8-4.0. It spent the night keeping my cup of red wine company, down near my feet. I just can't leave home for a job without a back-up solution...
The concerts last about an hour and fifteen minutes and the lighting doesn't change, shift, turn other colors, etc. so once you've ranged in your color temperature and hue corrections, and arrived at a good exposure for each part of the stage areas, your brain work is all done and all that's left is a responding to your visceral reaction to the music and the showwomanship of the performer. And Chanel (love the one name thing) is very much a world class singer. She is performing here in Austin this week but heading over to London's West End theater district to star in a production about Tina Turner. That's the big time.
I over-shot. But that's hardly unusual. I was in the mood so I photographed with raw files instead of Jpegs and the only real difference that makes, which impacts my workflow, is that it takes twice as long for Lightroom to convert from raw to jpeg than from jpeg to "other" jpegs. I was aghast when I looked at the frame count. It was about 1100. I edited down to a bit under 400 for delivery today but I sure left a lot of really good stuff on "the cutting room floor."
There's no job-ness feeling to the stuff I shoot for Zach Theatre. I decide when I'm going to show up. I decide what I'm going to photograph and what I'll deliver. It's up to me to select cameras, lenses, etc. I can wear my most comfortable shoes. I can get discounted beverages from the bar...
When the show ended and the applause died down I tossed a camera over each shoulder, finished my wine and sealed up my popcorn box. I brought the half full box home thinking I'd munch more popcorn as I edited files today but Ben and Belinda beat me to it and wiped out my popcorn stash last night while I worked, unaware, out in the studio.
Job overwhelmyness. I've been shooting non-stop this week and tomorrow we'll cap the work week with a full day of product and process/demo photography over at Luminex. I'm working with a fun and kind art director but he wants us to be there by eight. Yes, a.m. I'm working with a new assistant, a guy named Austin who also designs and implements stage lighting at Zach Theatre. I have high hopes that, with a good assistant, I can become ever lazier and still get overpaid. We have a full day ahead of us, working in the belly of corporate America. I am steeling myself for the experience. But there will be breakfast tacos and coffee so all is not bleak.
On Saturday we're doing a three camera video shoot of Chanel's concert back at the theater. Sunday is set aside for seemingly endless postproduction and archiving. I am three jobs behind on photo retouching at this point. Monday we're back at Luminex till 2:30 and then back over to the theater at 5:00 to film Chanel for a different (undisclosable --- at this time) project. We'll be doing a three camera filming adventure on the theater's main stage for this. Tuesday we have a full day booked in our studio by an ad agency to shoot lifestyle portraits and then, Wednesday, I'm back at the theater to shoot video of an entirely different concert.
At some point I'll put my foot down and command myself to take the rest of the year off. And that will be good because I'm about to write a fabulously nasty diatribe about Adobe ruining my life (very short term) by changing everything I've spent 20+ years learning in Photoshop. Rat Bastards! One day all my adjustment panels are there and the next....poof! they're all gone. Grrr. Hours and hours wasted yesterday. Stay tuned and I'll help you understand my rage at them. But I am still using their products so I guess, ultimately, they win.