Saint Louis, Missouri – November 21, 2007 – It’s Thanksgiving-eve and t-shirt clad rock fans are sprinting from their cars into the venue lobby: it’s freezing outside. Inside the Pageant, a once intimate crowd has swelled to over 600 thanks to droves of walk-up sales. Die-hards and walk-ups alike drink Budweiser in between drags of Parliament Lights as they await local hard rock heros Modern Day Zero. The Saint Louis five-piece is about to co-headline what will be one of their final shows after 10 years as a band.
As the stage went lights-up, the MDZ launched into an hour and a half set that would carry their fans within minutes of the venue’s strict 11:45 curfew. The band seemed pleased with the large turnout and responded with a performance that pulled from every move, pose, and guttural wail of the proverbial rock n’ roll playbook. Exemplified by the dramatic rock star stances of singer Scott Gertken and the Guitar Hero shredding of guitarist Zach Broderick, every member of Modern Day Zero played as if to save no breath for the encore.
For the second time in less than a week, I had the honor of shooting with my brother and fellow concert photographer Todd Owyoung (www.ishootshows.com). We’d recently taken in the VHS or Beta/Moving Units show at the Blender Theater in New York City. This time, I was on his turf. After years of seeing his amazing shots inside the Pageant, I was eager to see how my concert photography skills, which are largely hewn out of dirty East Village holes, would measure up in Saint Louis’ best music venue.
Arriving at the start of the second act for the night, I was pleased to see a healthy photo pit set up a few feet from font of stage. I was however surprised by the height of the stage, which was considerably taller than the one at Madison Square Garden, and much taller than me. The extreme shooting angle presented a challenge, new options for composition and explained the rocked out shots that Todd continually produces.
The lighting at the Pageant is defined by the large ceiling height and distance of the cans from the stage floor. Though distant red, blue, and green backlighting dominated the set, neutral frontlighting was occasionally shot from high above the very front of the stage. Although most of this light fell upon center stage and singer Scott Gertken, it did allow for a few shots of guitarists Rock Davis, Zach Broderick and Rich Criebaum. Drummer Blake Nelson who was positioned at the very back of center stage was often lit by warm colored wash.
My EOS-1D Mark III was occasionally stretched to its limits during this set. But generally speaking, the lighting was abundant enough to justify the use of f/2.8 zooms rather than primes. My exposure stayed locked at ISO 3200 with an aperture of f/2.8 for nearly the entire show. By locking in at ISO 3200 for all but a few shots, I controlled the exposure by setting my shutter speed between 1/60 and 1/320.
It was Thanksgiving-eve and I was feeling lazy. The 50mm f/1.4 and 135mm f/2.0, which are recently staples of my lens lineup stayed home. All of the images in the set are thanks to the 24-70mm f/2.8L.
After a flickr discussion on the subject of cropping, I’d like to note that all of the images from this set appear as framed in-camera. None of the compositions have been cropped or tilted after the fact.