Rock In The Dark

Original - Nampa, ID
Sony α58 | 50mm F1.7 | 50mm | ƒ1.7 | 1/800s | ISO 3200
You have to consider yourself pretty lucky when your kids attend a school that offers "Rock Band" as a class, and I do deem myself quite fortunate for that. My kids love their school (as much as kids can love a school), love this class, and love their teacher, and that makes a parent pretty happy. It's the perfect blend of musical education with opportunities to just get on a stage and shred. It only leaves two questions - who wouldn't love that, and where was this when I was in high school?

A few weeks ago as the 2015/2106 school year was ending, this Rock Band class was invited to come close out their season at the super popular Flying M Coffee Garage and Concert Venue in downtown Nampa, Idaho, and I was offered an invitation to come along to photograph the event. They've been given a few opportunities to play outside of school, but this one was the coolest ever by a long shot, and it was an honor to be asked to come shoot it. Truth be told... I was coming along anyway. Not only am I a Rock Band dad, but these kids are extremely talented, and a sheer joy to watch.


Hurt - Nampa, ID
Sony α58 | 50mm F1.7 | 50mm | ƒ1.7 | 1/800s | ISO 2000
Here's the problem: the Flying M is a great place to hang out, get coffee, and catch a concert, but it's super dark, and the stage is wedged into a corner and backlit with small strips and pin lights. Combine that with the fact that the place was packed with parents, keeping my mobility severely restricted, and I started becoming concerned how well I was going to be able to record this fun and important event. Honestly, this posed a huge challenge, and I was getting flat-out worried.
Crooner - Nampa, ID
Sony α58 | 50mm F1.7 | 50mm | ƒ1.7 | 1/400s | ISO 3200
My Sony α58 (alpha series) might not be the best low-light camera ever made, but the 50mm f/1.7 lens I team with it is my favorite for the amount of light it allows, and shallow depth of field. The M is a "noisy" visual environment, and I wanted the kids to be the star of the show - not the wall decor and other "stuff", and from as far away as I was shooting, I needed all the help I could get. If I had a lens in my bag that let me get a little closer with that large an aperture, I'd probably have gone for that one, but it was either this, or don't shoot. Quite frankly, the latter wasn't an option, so I just cranked the ISO and started clicking.
Chili Peppers - Nampa, ID
Sony α58 | 50mm F1.7 | 50mm | ƒ1.7 | 1/800s | ISO 3200
My favorite shot of the night wasn't of anyone singing or playing. It's simply this young performer, taking a moment, surrounded in the bliss of music. I don't take photos to be the best ever - I just live for shots like these that show the heart and soul of a human being. There are better technical photos from the night, but this one shows more than they do, and for that reason, this one makes me happy:
A Moment Between - Nampa, ID
Sony α58 | 50mm F1.7 | 50mm | ƒ1.7 | 1/400s | ISO 3200
Overall, it was a fun show, and well worth the difficulty. Every time I pick up a camera, I hope to learn something, even if I'm doing something I've done before. At the end of the night I looked through a few Lightroom presets I've developed, and decided that these made good black-and-whites with gritty attitude and a retro rock feel. A little cleanup of the noise left over from shooting at ISO 3200, and they were ready to go.
Rock Chicks - Nampa, ID
Sony α58 | 50mm F1.7 | 50mm | ƒ1.7 | 1/80s | ISO 2000
No one should be surprised that the most meaningful shot should be of my son, wailing away a solo on "Paris" by Grace Potter and the Nocturnals. They did that song, followed by "Figure It Out" by Royal Blood, and brought down the house. Yeah, my kid rocks....
Paris - Nampa, ID
Sony α58 | 50mm F1.7 | 50mm | ƒ1.7 | 1/800s | ISO 3200
   
From the intense, floor-shaking choruses  to the calm, reflective moments, music provokes a whole range of human emotions, so concerts are a fun way to capture that power. The seniors have moved on, and this was the last show for this particular group. I'm glad I had the chance to catch them doing their thing.
A Breath - Nampa, ID
Sony α58 | 50mm F1.7 | 50mm | ƒ1.7 | 1/800s | ISO 3200