Construction progress at site is coming to an end, hence I am regaining my freedom on Saturdays. This particular weekend, there are two major events which I have been anticipating, the first being the PEN Lovers 1st Anniversary Luncheon, and subsequently, it was Silent Scenery (my friend, Ivan is in the band) performing live at Central Market for the Pipit Market Seven. Life has suddenly become beautiful and hectic once again. The Pen Lovers Luncheon (which I intend to blog about in a separate entry) ended just after 3pm, but I unknowingly lazed around hanging out with the beautiful people there until 3.30pm, leaving me less than an hour to get from Subang to downtown KL before Silent Scenery starts their live performance !!
Thank goodness friend Anston was kind enough to drop me off at Kelana Jaya LRT station where I took a train directly from there to Central Market. While I was in the train I kept on glancing over my watch nervously. I texted Ivan asking if their band was going to start their performance soon, and he replied that they were doing setup and preparations already !! Yet I was still four train stops away, and that would mean I needed at least 15-20 minutes to get to the destination: Annexe Gallery, Central Market. As I got down the train, I received a call from Ivan, and I was getting really tensed up, but confidently, with a little bit of faith, I responded that I would be there “just in a nick of time”. As I stepped into the stage area, thankfully they have not started playing their first song, and still was doing sound check and fine-tuning. I could rest my butt in one of the front row of seats and I went “aaaaaaahhhhhhhhhhh” while I took out my gear and started to prepare myself, just in time before the show commenced. Sometimes, we just have to smile, and the world will smile with us.
Silent Scenery was playing the songs from their latest released album, “These Still Moments”. The music sounded so lively, and I was very sure the audience was completely astounded by their music. I have listened to them play live many, many times before, and I could not help but wanted to have more and more of their live performance. I guess there is just something about immersing yourself deep into music that is played right there and then in front of you, in comparison to the distilled and very polished sound coming out from CD audio playback. The excitement, the rush and the thrill are just so vivid. I cannot wait to go to their next live performance show again.
I will not say too much about their music, why not go to their official website or their facebook page and have a preview of their music. I assure you, they are entirely original and not like anything you can find anywhere else. I immediately purchased their album after the show, and now I cannot stop looping their songs over and over again.
The shooting condition was not easy at all. I decided against using flash this time, and to preserve the natural ambiance. The lighting was horrendous, not only being dim, but they were uneven across the stage area, rendering the center part very bright, while the sides rather dark. I used three lenses for this session: 50mm F2, 50-200mm F2.8-3.5, and 25mm F2.8, and shooting at wide aperture F2 and F2.8, I needed to push my ISO sensitivity beyond 1600, to accomplish shutter speed of 1/80 to 1/100 seconds which I require to freeze motions. Those members of the band were not static at all, they moved, and moved rather frantically all the time, feeling the music they were orchestrating. I still captured some motion blur at 1/100 sec, which was not a big issue, but shooting at such high ISO on Olympus was not something many people would dare to do, and something that I would have preferred to avoid.
However, as I struggled to maintain fast enough shutter speed, I considered the fact that this was not a paid assignment, so I was not shooting to please anyone. More importantly, I was not going to print any of the images, and certainly those images wont enter any competitions. Why was I so worried about the image quality and deterioration when shooting at high ISO? I had to re-arrange my priority. I cannot have blur images all the time due to motion blur, I need to freeze actions. I knew if I used flash, no matter how I shoot the images wont come out the same, and insisting strongly on using just the available light, I have finally decided to step up the ISO setting to 4000. I know, I know, it was disastrous, and the images were so full of noise but hey, whats important remains important, and at that time and place, the main priority is to freeze motion.
How did the images turn out? Full of noise, predictably. Nonetheless, it did not bug me so much, because I was well aware of my gear’s limitation, and pushing beyond the restriction is the only way to fully see what you are capable of doing with your gear. I will not lie to you and say that the images look fantastic, they look rather ugly at full size. However, I did manage to achieve what I wanted to accomplish in the first place: useable images in terms of non-blur due to motion, and preserving the ambient feel of the stage, which was quite good. The compromise is there, and I have to live with the aggressive noise filtering and reduction, but hey, images are not made of noise or other technicalities, it is made of moments frozen within the frame, what subject contents you decided to stick in it, and how you arrange your subjects to compose a story to tell your audience. The story is not perfect, but at least there is a strong story, instead of just empty words. The photograph may not be perfect, it may contain a lot of noise, but at least it is a photograph that I have created rather than just empty pixels.
In support of Daniel Pearl: World Music Days
Do check out one of the recording clip (not by me) of one of the tracks performed:
Memory Erased by Silent Scenery
If you have not heard of Silent Scenery, do check them and their music out at the following places:
Official website: www.silentscenery.com
Official Facebook Bandpage: http://www.facebook.com/silentscenery
Buy music from Itunes: http://www.itunes.com/silentscenery
Buy music on CD Baby: http://www.itunes.com/silentscenery
Show some love guys !! Let their music be the “soundtrack of your life”.