photography • video • design for web & print

Don’t let this be our little secret

Alright… I’ve got some secret information for you. If you love live music, rising stars, and being “in the know”, then this will be right up your alley.

So Many Stars Music is a new music promoter in Hartford Connecticut, and they’re lining up some really wonderful musicians to perform in cozy locales like living rooms and most recently, The Studio at Billings Forge. This was the setting for my most recent photographic adventure, shooting the concert for So Many Stars owner, Julie Beman.

Singer/songwriter Colin Campbell started things off with a solo set, accompanying himself on acoustic guitar (and occasional on-the-fly loops). As good as his songs were, the lighting was decidedly lacking, making my job of capturing him on camera a real challenge. For those of you who like to shoot events like this, you know that lighting can often be tricky. Having a fast lens and a great camera can make life easier, but there are some situations that will force you to shift gears and adapt your style of photography to work in the conditions you face.

Colin Campbell performing at Billings Forge

In this case I realized that the type of shot that I like to get was probably out of the question. There was very little front lighting and a plain white wall for a background. I try my best to stay away from high ISO settings, but in this case I found myself cranking up my Nikon D700 to an ISO of 5000. This, along with setting the lens aperture almost fully wide open (ƒ/3.2) got me pretty much what I expected – a soft & grainy shot.

Colin Campbell performing at Billings Forge

In performance photography however, this can produce very pleasing results (especially in black and white). Done right, that grainy look can create a sense of intimacy and has the effect of “looking like a memory” – if you will. Sure I could have pulled out a flash, but that’s a BIG no-no for a pro in these (and most) settings because it disturbs both the audience and the performer. By spending a few minutes carefully planning your settings and looking for where your light is coming from, you can get shots that not only capture the emotion of a situation, but have an emotional quality of their own.

Colin Campbell performing at Billings Forge

Colin lives in Boston and performs in throughout New England and NYC. Definitely check him out if you get the chance!

 

Up and coming folk/rock star Heather Maloney and her band took the stage next and let me tell you – if you haven’t heard of Heather yet, you probably will soon because she is an amazing song writer, and her voice is just stunning. Her most recent album Time and Pocket Change is folksy, fun, and has some wonderfully catchy songs. You can get it (and I highly recommend that you do so) from her websiteiTunes or, you can get a “hold it in your very hand” hard copy on Amazon.

Heather Maloney performing at Billings Forge

The good news for me was that in between sets, Julie was able to locate a little bit more light (okay, one lonely flood lamp in the ceiling, but I was ready to start lighting candles at that point and therefore grateful).

Heather Maloney performing at Billings Forge

Heather Maloney performing at Billings Forge

Heather performed a number of new songs that I’m guessing might appear on the new album that she and the band are recording. This includes some really sweet vocal harmony when the guys in the band join voices with Heather. It’s slated for release in early 2013 and I can’t wait to get a copy!

Heather Maloney performing at Billings Forge

 

So now you know. So Many Stars is working hard to bring some great musicians to Hartford, and I hope that Colin and Heather make their way back here real soon. I’d love to see this move beyond “best kept secret” status, so go to the So Many Stars page on Facebook – hit the “like” button if you are so inclined, and then grab a bunch of friends and get out to one of the shows.

 

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Author: Bill Morgan

I photograph the beauty and drama of dance, music, and theater. My studio is located in West Hartford, CT., and I accept both domestic and international assignments.

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