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So some friends here in San Francisco are throwing a house concert. We've got in someone's house and reshaped it into a concert space. We moved some furniture around, we've got a nice little performance space, we have a great crowd of fun people who have shown up to watch the show, and we've got two great performers, a singer-songwriter named Larry Gallagher and a poet named George Bilgere. Even if you think you don't like poetry, George's poems are really a lot of fun. So we've got this wonderful event here of an evening on a Saturday night, and I want to shoot it.
Now, I'm thinking predominantly, probably the lens I'm going to be working with, and this may come as a surprise is an ultra-wide angle. A lot of people think ultra-wide angle? But that's for shooting the Grand Canyon, that's for shooting Monument Valley, because those are big wide spaces. That type of lens doesn't work too well there. It's much better in a smaller space like this. What a wide-angle lens is going to give me is the ability to capture the performer and the audience so that I can better see the relationship and see how close they are, and see what a tight intimate space this is. I'm not going to be shooting exclusively with an ultra-wide.
I'm going to be using a fisheye also, and I will also be using a telephoto to get some close-ups. But I really think I'm going to stick with the fisheye. I'm going to try some of the other lenses. I'm not sure what's going to work the best. Did I say fisheye, I mean wide-angle. I'm going to work mostly with both of those. I'm going to shift around some. That's how you do an event like this. You try a lot of different things and see what works. So the show is going to start in a minute. I'm going to try some things, see what works, see what doesn't. George Bilgere: ...and water the yard, fiddling with the nozzle, misting this, showering that.
Sometimes in the hot twilight, my sisters and I would run in our swimsuits through the grass while he followed us with a cold beam of water. (music playing) Ben: The first set is over. We're taking a break here.
Everyone is off to enjoy themselves and mingle, while I reassess my shooting strategy. This has been very interesting. I am glad that I have the ultra-wide. I'm shooting with a Canon 16-35 f/2.8L, which is a really nice lens for a space like this. So I can get it open pretty wide if I need to, I've got to watch depth of field at that point, and I've got a lot of field of view to work with that's letting me get interesting compositions of the performers and the audience. But there are some really tricky bits. That lens is so wide that I'm picking up lights in my frame, lights that are really blowing out a lot.
They're even screwing up my exposure. Sometimes they're causing the foreground to go dark. So, I'm needing to compensate for that to try and brighten up the foreground, which is causing the lights to go brighter. I'm trying to compose around them. I'm trying to knock them out of the frame, but very often that ends up pretty dramatically changing my composition. It's another thing about an ultra-wide lens that you really need to remember, a tiny little motion really changes the relationships of the things in your scene. And I'm finding that to be a pretty critical observation while I'm shooting, particularly as I'm shooting through the crowd.
To change the relationship with the performer to the crowd requires only a tiny little movement. I'm trying to think about how big I want the performer to be. I can't make them--that makes it because it's a really wide-angled lens, but I can raise them up above the crowd with just a little bit of a camera movement at the same time I'm needing to worry about my corners and figure out where all my lines are going. It's a lot to look at. You've got to take your time, move slowly, make sure that your exposure is set. Make sure that you're getting good exposure so that you can focus on your composition. I am also finding that once I get all of that done, there's this whole other thing to think about, which is what does the performer look like? It's really easy to get focused on all the details in your frame and not realize that when you're taking the shot their tongue's hanging out their mouth or something.
So what I'm finding I am doing is getting the shots set, then watching them, being very careful not to move, waiting until a good moment and shooting, I am also shooting a lot. I'm changing lenses up. I'm not just shooting with the wide angle. I put the telephoto on. I had our 100 to 400 on. I shot with a lens maybe. I shot with my 24 to 105. The 24 to 105 actually goes pretty wide so that was giving me a nice in-between, between an ultra-wide and a more normal lens. It gave me a little telephoto reach. And I'm doing a lot of different things, trying to find what I like and what gives me some variety, but I'm really sticking with this wide-angle approach, and that's making me very excited to try something else, which is my 15-mm fisheye, and you're going to see that next.
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