To be honest, I approached CMJ this year with little interest or excitement. This turned out to be a good thing (for the most part) because it meant that (A) I wasn’t going to stand in the rain for two hours to only to find out that I wasn’t getting into Webster Hall and (B) that I had the mental space to be pleasantly surprised by bands like the Brooklyn based indie-trio Breaking Laces.
Lead as much by the witty stage banter of vocalist/guitarist Willem Hartong as his dynamic facial expressions, Breaking Laces performs the kind of unassuming and accessible indie rock that, in my opinion, the NYC scene needs more of. Somewhere in the musical vicinity of Weezer, Breaking Laces plays well-crafted, immediately likable music.
Shooting at Luna Lounge is a real pleasure (especially when compared to 90% of the venues in the East Village). The lighting is pretty decent, the stage is wide, the ceilings are high, and Rob Sacher, the owner, is a great guy.
With no song limit and no strobes, the shoot was very straight forward. The entire set was lit consistently from the front and sided with a mixture of yellow, red, and blue tinted. cans. Tim, the lighting tech, was nice enough to turn the lights up a bit for me, which produced good exposures at around f/2.8 at 1/160 – 1200 at ~ ISO 3200. For all you pixel peepers who just gasped at the mention of ISO 3200 – yes, I actually use it and it looks awesome in print.
Though the 24-70mm f/2.8L proved to be the workhorse for the entire night, some of the most compelling images came from my new 135mm f/2.0L. A highly regarded lens among Canon users, the 135mm f/2.0L is extremely sharp wide open and is one of the least expensive lenses to carry the “L” designation.
My primary interest in the 135 was as an inconspicuous replacement for my 70-200mm f/2.8L IS, which is huge, heavy, and comes in only one awesome color – “please mug me white.” In contrast, the 135mm f/2.0L black, small, and light (about the size of the 16-35L). The built quality is “L,” but the lens mount lacks the rubber seal found on more recent lens designs.
The range of the lens allowed me to get some interesting 3/4 length shots of Willem from down-stage and allowed me to isolate the drummer and guitarist towards the back wall. As you can see from the photos, the 135mm retains a wonderful amount of detail even after noise reduction at ISO 3200 – 6400.
As a final note, I’ve really noticed how much I miss using my Nikkor 17-55mm f/2.8. The lens was a perfect range for front-of-stage shooting and rarely left my D200. The Canon 24-70mm L is a good lens but is not comfortably wide enough and seems to take a bit longer focusing.
As always, peep the flickr for the full set.