It was a hectic Saturday, that started with an unusual portraiture shooting session in the morning, but the highlight was actually much later in the day. Gerald Wong, a dear friend had an extra ticket to hitz.fm Birthday Invasion party at Stadium Putra, Bukit Jalil. It was the perfect opportunity to enjoy live performances from some of the best Malaysian music, and to work the camera at the same time !! The gate opened at 4.30pm, and we made our way into the stadium with a huge crowd, and found ourselves quite an auspicious spot, only 10 rows from the front of the stage.
All images were taken with Olympus DSLR E-5 and Zuiko Digital 50-200mm F2.8-3.5 Mk1. All images were straight out of camera JPEG.
Amongst a few advertised performances were by Pop Shuvit, Kyoto Protocal and Mizz Nina. However, somewhere halfway through the show, while the band on stage was setting up, I heard a random girl in front of me screamed Jason Lo !! It was indeed a great surprise and pleasure to find the next performer being Jason Lo, one of the local artists that I really do admire, and grew up listening to his music. I first came across his hit “Evening News” when I was in form 5 (my goodness, that was centuries ago) and the song remained one of my favorites and most-played songs in my music player (both in pc and mobile phone). If you do not know who Jason Lo is, please check out his hit Evening News in Youtube here (click).
This was my first time seeing him in person, and seeing him performing live !!! You cannot imagine how excited I was when he actually played two of my favorites, “the operator line is dead” and of course, the ever-popular and timeless “evening news”. I did not quite know how to describe the feeling, I was shooting him through my viewfinder, and at the same time, cheering my lungs out like a crazy girl fan, and at times I even sang along to the lines !!! Now you have to forgive me for overflooding this entry with Jason’s photographs, I just simply adore him. I guess this is the magical thing about photography as well, to be able to capture certain moments that really meant something special to yourself, and it does not matter what the rest of the world thinks, because it is personal, and it means a whole world to you.
A close up shooting of a camera not too far from me
A crop from previous image. Now we know: 1) it is a Panasonic Lumix camera, 2) that image will most likely be wrongly focused.
A lot of thoughts ran through my mind through this Birthday Invasion shooting session:
1) Olympus Zuiko Digital 50-200mm F2.8-3.5 Mk1
I finally had the chance to utilize the much neglected tele lens of mine, the 50-200mm mk1. I must say I do not use tele lens for street shooting much these days, and little did I find the need for it for many other photography sessions that I usually do. Nevertheless, I cannot deny the importance of keeping a good tele-photo zoom lens around, and there are many occasions (though far apart in between and not frequent) where I do need the reach. I have always loved music, and I love watching live shows on stage. This is one area where micro 4/3 system still lacks, a good tele-photo zoom lens. There are just a few things that stopped me short from switching over fully to micro 4/3 system, and one of them is this.
This was the night that reminded me why I loved Olympus so much. Working with the tele-lens was quite a great experience. The autofocus of this wonderful lens, though it does not have its newer upgraded brother’s SWD (Supersonic Wave Drive) motor, I find the speed of the AF to be very fast, and it rarely failed me. Shooting a live show with lots of moving around and dynamic dance, it was not easy. I did not use the continuous focusing, instead I just relied solely on the single-AF and keep pressing the shutter button halfway all the time. I did not achieve 100% hit-rate of course, but I did get very high hit-rate which I was very happy about. I rarely missed the important moments when I clicked the camera on reflex, and I believe that matters the most: reliability of the camera to capture the moment when you need it to instantaneously respond to your demand. The reach of 50-200mm was just right from where I was standing, and I rarely needed to go anywhere further than 100mm. That was advantageous to me, because at 100mm, the opening of the aperture was F2.9, and that allowed me to push the shutter speed higher without the sacrifice of bumping up the ISO. There really is nothing much to complain about this lens, and I loved what it was able to produce. It was not exactly superbly sharp like the 50mm F2 (expecting such level of sharpness would be ridiculous for a zoom lens) but hey, I don’t see anything to hate either.
2) Straight out of camera (SOOC) JPEG
I knew this was going to be a night where I would spam-click the shutter. The fact that this was just a “for-fun” personal shooting session that does not grab any sort of income, I decided not to shoot RAW, mainly to conserve my hard disk space. Thank goodness I shot everything in JPEG, because I went home with over 1000 shots in just one concert session. I did not even shoot in super fine mode, I just shot in standard fine mode, which I think would be sufficient for standard prints, and of course, more than adequate for resized web viewing, especially on this blog.
I rarely shoot JPEG these days, but shooting JPEG at this session felt liberating. As I transferred and inspected the image files on my computer, I was quite pleased with the original camera processing, and I did not find the need or urge to modify anything else. Usually I would do a little quick post-processing to correct the colour inaccuracies, boosted the contrast and some other minor touch-ups before I use the photographs in this blog. This session, once in a long, long time, is purely 100% straight out of the camera. Could the images have been better if I did a little post-processing? Yes, I agree, they could have been improved further. A little noise reduction, probably added contrast or saturation would improve overall presentation. But hey, why all the trouble? I am not participating in any photography competition with these photographs, and all I wanted out of those images are fond memories of being there that night, and I think they did just fine coming out of the camera.
There really is nothing much to complain about the JPEG coming from an Olympus camera. I set all the parameters to default, and the noise reduction to LOW. As I shot at high ISO setting (typically ISO1000 and above), I anticipated noise creeping in, but hey, I still think that the noise level in the images are tolerable (at least to me, I know this varies with different expectations from everyone). Nothing some easy noise cleaning software cannot handle. The important thing to take care during shooting would be the focusing (make sure its accurately focused) and the right exposure. I engaged the Aperture Priority mode, and center weighted metering most of the time (in some tricky situation I used spot metering) and found the metering to work almost perfect in most situations. The auto-white balance does a good job in keeping the colours warm and true to life. The original JPEG files are already so optimized that I did not see any need to mess around with it. Sometimes, we just need to have more faith in the camera.
One Buck Short
3) Shoot what you love
I could not remember when was the last time I went to a concert and shoot. I love music. I love watching live performances by rock bands, or even dance performance. I love to be in the crowd, banging my head away into the loudly pumped bass out of the gigantic concert scale woofers. I enjoy being in the middle of deafening crowd cheers, it just gets my blood rushing, and I rarely get the chance to do this much these days (work work work). I guess some people do not see the point of shooting “clubbing/party scenes”, or “concert/stage gigs”. All people care about are those high profile “street photography” or “travel photography” or even the pretentiously glamorous “fashion photography”.
Every photography genre has its own rewards, and I believe that it is more important for you to bring your camera with you and shoot what you really love. Just because your friends shoot portraitures and some random beautiful girls, it does not mean that to enjoy photography, you have to do exactly the same. Just because some people tell you that macro photography is a great photography genre to explore, it does not mean you must do it, even if you hate it. My point it, do not neglect what you love, and you should be putting your heart into shooting it instead of all the others that do not matter to you.
Gerald, partner in crime for the evening.
Congratulations to hitz.fm Malaysia for their 15th anniversary. Indeed they have come a long way, and Malaysians have grown very fond of their radio programmes, as well as their many local activities and contribution to the society.
Special thanks to Gerald for getting me into the Hitz.fm birthday invasion 2012.
Lets party yo !!