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At the Nightclub: Photographing Mama Tried

When was the last time your sister and brother-in-law were friends with the guitarist in the local band? Approximately never, until now. After a chance mention that Moma Tried was playing on a Friday night, and an offer to photograph the band, it was time to charge the batteries and head out. Not knowing what to expect, I grabbed my Zeiss 35 mm and my old Nikon 85 mm AI-s, both of which are manual focus lenses.

The club was small, the set was black, and the lights were were a mish mash of color. It was time to experiment. The black walls completely absorbed the output of a Flashpoint 360 Ws strobe mounted on my hot shoe, so there would be no bouncing light off the walls. It would have to be straight on. At the sound check, the band seemed OK with a strobe going off at the edge of the stage. It took a few guesses to pick an ISO that would let in a little ambient light, but would keep the files clean. The images here were made at ISO 100-400, f/2.8 - f/5.6, with the shutter at 1/125. The strobe was set for i-TTL or 1/64th power. Manual focusing was a challenge in the dark, but it worked.

You can't photograph a band without trying it in ambient light, so the strobe was turned off in the middle of the set for some available light photography. The ISO was maxed out at 12,800, the aperture went to 2.8, and the shutter was set at 1/100. The mish mash of stage light wreaked havoc with the white balance, so when I viewed the files in Lightroom the only solution was to convert them to black and white. In a future blog post, we'll see the band in black and white.

Gear Photos were made with a Nikon D750 paired with either a Zeiss Milvus 35 mm f/2.0, or a Nikon 85 mm f/2 AI-s lens. The strobe was a Flashpoint Streaklight 360.


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