Monday, 17 August 2009

Shooting and Grooving

Celtic music is awesome.

I recently went to Muzikfest, in Bethlehem, PA, a week-long festival showcasing all sorts of bands from pretty much everywhere. I still remember that eccentric Polish polka band I saw one year. And how about that 40s-style big band/swing outfit comprised of college students who look more like indie rockers? And of course, there's the features: last year, the Moody Blues played for $25 a ticket; this year featured Crosby, Stills, and Nash on the main stage.

I went more for the lower-profile bands: Blackwater, Butterjive, Music from China (a group from the Met), and an interesting-looking outfit called Scythian. "I think you'd like this; they look interesting," my mom said.

Scythian was awesome.

I'd highly recommend you check them out if you're into fast-paced, technically impressive, and lyrically amusing Celtic rock!

Shooting them was a bit of a problem, though. Even though I was REALLY up close and personal in the Celtic version of a mosh pit, I was using my 70-300 lens because I was kind of off to the side. The problem with this lens (which I bought in Beijing) is that it is an AF G. That's it. No ED glass, no motor, and most annoyingly, no VR. Even on a tripod, the slightest movement will cause ghosting artifact and ripples in the finished product - in other words, they're fuzzy. Naturally, at close ranges, this depends more on the shutter speed and flash which were fast and on, respectively, while I was shooting Scythian's great performance.

Here's one of the pictures that I love from the ones that turned out well, and here's a Facebook album I made of all the good ones.

Because Celtic music is so awesome, I just HAD to have more. Enter the Haggis is a band I found through iTunes when I was downloading Blaggards' album "Standards." iTunes recommended I check out "Soapbox Heroes," so I did, and loved it. To my surprise and delight, they were playing at the Philadelphia Folk Festival this past Saturday night. I left the 70-300 lens at home and drove the hour and a half to Lansdale with just the D60 and basic 18-55 lens, and got some pictures with which I am well pleased.

I was right in front of them this time, practically in the press box. However, the lighting was such that I'd have to use a long shutter to get the picture to look like the real thing (which of course wasn't possible, being a genre where the musicians move A LOT). It took awhile to get things just right, but cutting the f-stop and ISO waayy down and coupling it with +2 exposure compensation yielded workable results.

Here's the energetic frontman Brian Buchanon. Doesn't he just look like the kind of guy I'd like to meet?

And yeah, their music is amazing. They only played five or six songs, which made me sad. They did, however, sound exactly like they do on the albums - they gave a flawless live performance.

I took fewer pictures of ETH than I did of Scythian, mostly because of the lighting and short set (and I'd rather watch them play anyway.)

Here's the Facebook album of my Enter the Haggis pictures.

This is definitely something I'd enjoy doing...maybe not for a living, but for some money here and there, getting paid to see concerts and photograph the musicians would really be right up my ally...wouldnt't it...


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