Monday, January 24, 2011

Silent Scenery at KLPAC Open Day 2011

It has been quite a long week, and even my weekend had piles of errands and pending items to be cleared off, I could hardly find time to breathe. Despite of that, when I saw the Facebook update on the Silent Scenery’s page announcing that they would perform on Sunday 23rd January 2011 at KLPAC Open Day, I just had to make way for this event !! My friend Ivan is in the band, I have been trying to attend their many past performances but unexpected turns of events just kept getting in the way. For this particular session, I told myself, no, I must do whatever it takes to be there.

It was easier said than done, really.

Silent Scenery at Pentas 1, KLPAC


Silent Scenery was scheduled to play on 1030am at Pentas 1. Knowing how unreliable Kuala Lumpur public transportation was, I decided to make my journey extra early, leaving my house at ungodly 8am. If everything went smoothly, I should be able to arrive the destination in an hour’s time, and I did not mind walking around exploring KLPAC (Kuala Lumpur Performing Art’s Center) since I have never been to that place before. Being early also means, I could grab front seats, enabling me better composition flexibility and to get better close up shots.

Everything went well, until…. The train decided to die on me. Yes it blardy DIED on me.

At 9am, the train taking me to Sentul broke down, and it was dead in the tracks for about a freaking hour long !! Along with the full load of passengers, we almost suffocated for the lack of air due to very small window openings, and I was drenched with sweat that I could feel my underwear being soaked completely. Close to 10am, the train moved backwards to the previous station, Salak Selatan (which was rather far away from the intended destination) and the door finally opened to let all the passengers out. I only had 30 minutes away from the show.

After some quick thinking, I decided to jump into a cab. To my surprise, no one knows where KLPAC was !! I then told the taxi driver to drop me off the Sentul KTM station which was adjacent to KLPAC. As the taxi was approaching the Sentul KTM station, it was 10.15am, and I thought wow, I still could make it. That was when the brainless taxi driver told me he could know where I wanted to go, and me being naively stupid to trust his sense of direction, got us AWAY from the KLPAC. I instantly asked him to make a turn, and guess what, instead of arriving at KTM, he stopped at the LRT station which was 1km away from the KTM station!! I was so furious, but amazingly managed to keep my head cool, until he finally, finally dropped me off the KTM station, and it was 10.25am. Great, and mind you, not knowing where KLPAC was, I had to make a guess, and took a gamble with luck.

I ran, like I never ran before. Stopping just twice, to ask for directions, and thank goodness I was running in the right direction.
If you saw a Chinese dude with a black camera bag running at the side of the Sentul West road on Sunday morning, it has got to be yours truly. *blushes

Ivan on stage

Kit, the lead guitarist



I arrived in the KLPAC Pentas 1 at 10.35am, and Silent Scenery was already on stage. They had already finished their first song “Violet”, which I really hoped to catch and record in video. When I finally settled down and whipped my camera out, it was already halfway through their second song out of five total songs they played for the morning. I know I could just complain on and on, instead I chose to do what I could with whatever time I had left. I decided to record one song fully on video (fourth song of the day, titled Stop Motion & Fragments), and the other two songs, with total duration of time less than 8 minutes I had to capture some still shots of the band in live performance.

Although I did not watch the full performance, but I totally immersed myself in Silent Scenery’s music. They have been around since a couple of years ago, and they have released an EP (extended play album) with a total of six tracks about two years ago. Some important traits I liked about Silent Scenery since the launch of their first album are their originality and beautifully crafted tones and rhythm arrangements. It is like nothing you hear on the radio, or those mainstream stereotypical tunes that you could get bored listening to just a couple of times. Silent Scenery has explored fresh ideas and I must say, I thoroughly enjoyed their music, though I must have listened to them a thousand times over. The fact that they started as an independent group of musicians (Indie band), they stayed true to their own unique style, and never compromised their own identity to suit the crowd. This is something I have always admired about anything, and to find them being so dramatically represented in inspiring music is something I would recommend anyone to at least, take a listen to, really.

I often find myself listening to their music late at night, something that is energetic, bold, yet subtle enough to clear my mind off, and just let the tunes flow and fill in the rest of the evening.


My Favourite shot of the day !!! I think Ivan looks really awesome in this picture.


Seikan the drummer.

A shot of Silent Scenery near the end of their showcase for the day.


On the photography note, this was a typical stage, low light performance. The main challenge is to achieve adequate shutter speed to properly freeze motion. Set to ISO1600, I still could not get fast enough shutter speed, and at times I needed to push my ISO up to 3200, which was something I tried to avoid. I chose not to use the flash, mainly because I want to preserve the ambient light that provided the mood of “being there” watching it live. The stage lighting was not really bright, but it has a good mix of colours which I really liked. Olympus E-5 did not fail to capture the colours and deliver them faithfully, even at high ISO shooting.

The following are my general camera settings:
1) Aperture Priority at widest Aperture (F2, F2.8)
2) Spot Metering. This is important because the background was completely dark, which would have produced inaccurately overexposed photograph. Spot metering was done on the face or shirts of the band members on stage.
3) High ISO ranging from ISO1250 to 3200
4) No Flash
5) Use of 11-22mm F2.8-3.5, 50mm F2 Macro and 40-150mm F3.5-4.5

Another problem I faced was not having the flexibility to move around much, and I only had limited angle to play with. I could not get close enough, and that prevented me from getting very close up shots of the band members. Also, working within a window of less than 8 minutes (two songs) did not give me much chance to play with some of the creative ideas I have had in my mind. I did what I could, and I really think that the shots could have been a lot better in terms of composition.

CROSS PROCESS Art Filter applied.

GRAINY FILM Art Filter applied.

In the midst of a busy city working life, I was really glad I took a little moment to leave things behind, and find time to catch a live performance, enjoying great music, and watch a good friend play in that band. Life is too precious to just waste and watch it slowly pass by, I want to be able to spend time to do the things that I like, and be with the people I want to be with. No matter how busy I am, I must remind myself to take a pause and make sure I spend enough time for myself.

Lastly, here is a video clip which I have recorded in HD with Olympus E-5.

Do take note that the original HD 720P file was compressed with Windows Movie Maker to reduce the size for Youtube Upload. Please do not use this video as a gauge of the video recording performance of Olympus E-5. The original file was 750MB, resized to 180Mb, so you can imagine the amount of detail and quality lost due to compression. Blame the slow Malaysian broadband internet service, it would take me close to 10 hours to upload the original 750Mb file.

STOP MOTION & FRAGMENTS by Silent Scenery


That song is fantastically brilliant, right?

The autofocus was rather useless in this situation. I should have just fixed a focus and never mess with it throughout the entire recording. The microphone did a rather poor job, and there was clipping at the higher end of frequency (treble region, especially the clashing cymbals). Perhaps, I should get a good external for recording this sort of shows in the future, yeah?

Kindly visit Silent Scenery at their Facebook page. Do say hi, and rest assured that you will be seeing more coverage of them in video and photographs for their upcoming future shows.

22 comments:

  1. Excellent! Thanks for sharing :-)

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  2. Hi Knitties,
    No worries, it is my pleasure !!

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  3. Really good. What kind of EXIF was #2? ISO, SS, f/no?

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  4. Hi Ananda,
    Second photo Exif:
    1/60sec, F4, ISO1250
    Taken with 40-150mm F3.5-4.5 at 88mm.
    In this shot he was not moving much, else I would need to push higher ISO to get 1/80sec or 1/100sec to freeze motion.

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  5. Man, you and the E-5 making this all sound so easy when I know it is not. The results are pro quality, I mean earning income quality. And you are using the kit tele!

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  6. AnandaSim,
    Thanks for the compliments. It was actually the main reason why I bought Olympus, and stayed faithfully to it throughout the years, the superb quality kit lenses. They are incredibly sharp, both the 14-42 and 40-150 (mk1 and mk2).
    Pro quality? Not really, I still need to work on my composition. They look too "ordinary" in this series.

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  7. Pro Quality Yes. You have obviously mastered technical IQ even working with kit lenses. Composition or content / life - that comes through just experience, networking with the clients and more time. Remember if you were an official photographer you would have a pass that takes you all over the shooting area. That is one point. Secondly, once you network, you will be shooting famous celebrities - sometimes people go wow! not because the photo is good but because the celebrity is the subject. You already know it is not easy - talent, some good equipment and just sheer using your eyes, learning, seeing, rinse, repeat, rinse, repeat....

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  8. Hey Ananda Sim,
    Thanks for the encouragements !! I really appreciate it. I am still at the exploring and learning stage, so much more to discover and master. I guess one thing that is most important now, is to keep the passion burning. everything else will follow, as long as the heart is in the right place. I always remind myself not to lose that sense of direction.

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  9. Wonderful pictures! But you didn't take any others during the open day besides the band?

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  10. hi Anonymous,
    I was only there for Silent Scenery, as I was rather busy myself that weekend. After their session i hung out with them for a bit and then left. I seriously wish I could stay whole day for the entire event !!

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  11. Nice pictures, Robin! Color rendition seems to be good it this series (I wasn't very impressed with color of one of the older evening/night series). Keep up the good work! :)

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  12. Robin,

    You have some excellent performance photos here! I really enjoy this set. Tonight I'll be taking my camera out to shoot a show. This definitely has me excited for the job!

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  13. Hello Bartosz,
    Whether the color is good or not, it depends on the lighting condition. If the lighting is good, the outcome is good. The stage lighting was lovely, though dim, but I like the mix of colours. Evening shots under the streets, well, can't expect the street lighting to be beautiful.
    Thanks for the compliments.

    Hello Ian,
    Thanks for the kind words !! Can't wait for the photos from the show you were shooting !!

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  14. Hey, Robin! Wonderful series, but please, please stop moaning about the bad conditions you have to deal with! You make the very best of it!

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  15. Hello Svenreinhold,
    Oh dear, I did not mean to moan, but merely to record down what I truly felt and thought about the shooting session, more like a progressive diary. Thanks for the compliments !!

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  16. LOL reading your post made me crack up! and what's up with all the checkered shirts?

    -Marcus

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  17. hey Marcus,
    Long time no hear from you. How've you been?
    Checkered shirts, maybe their new uniform or something ahahaha

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  18. Despite the given short timeframe and lack of space, the photos are amazing! Good job on not using the flash as it might killed the mood.

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  19. Hey Chong,
    Thanks mate !! I think I was so worked up was because I screwed up and not being there on time. I should have been early.

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  20. Hi Robin,
    your sharing is very valuable for me... and your blog is very inspiring...

    I'm just curious about your camera setting: how could you get that wide focus area even you used very wide arpeture (f/2)?

    regards
    Joko,

    please, visit http://jokosupratikto.wordpress.com
    your comments will be very much appreciated

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  21. Hello Joko,
    Sorry for the late response, I have been busy lately.
    I did not do anything other than making sure I have locked my focus at exactly where I wanted the focus to be, shooting at F2 wide open. Olympus has more Depth of Field (DOF) in comparison to other systems such as APS-C or Full Frame cameras. The extra DOF allows more zone to be in focus.

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