Last night was windy and rainy- the perfect night to see some jazz. While Gilbert Castellanos was off on tour, Ian Tordella filled in as the leader of the New Latin Jazz Quintet.
This is something I’ve been playing around with lately, the idea of off-camera flash. I’ve used it on a few rock bands, but this look was popularized by Blue Note covers shot by the legendary Francis Wolff. Many of his shots were done during recording sessions by the light of a single bare bulb.
El Camino is too dim to shoot in my usual “available light only” style, so flash is a necessity. Moving it to the side of the subject, instead of just keeping it on the camera, opens up all these new possibilities. You can place shadows and highlights where you want them, to set off a drumstick from the background, for example. Side lighting also brings out textures in a beautiful way.
Background separation is stark. By throwing light onto just the subject, they pop out of the image.
The greatest luxury a flash affords me is the ability to stop time. Blur happens at my usual 1/20 to 1/60 second shutter speeds. I like blur and I think I’ve gotten pretty good at controlling it and putting it where I want. But using 1/250s at f/8, ISO 100, I get stopping power, great depth of field, and clean files. Since I’m exposing for the flash, the ambient level is severely underexposed, leaving the backgrounds black.
In a way it’s a challenge for me, since I find flash annoying to both performer and audience, but it just means I shoot a lot less. I came back with 36 exposures. If I was just shooting ambient, I would have had 120, easy. But on the other hand, I knew I had keepers right away, with no blur or depth of field issues to contend with.
By the way, the music was excellent as always. A certain drummer commented that Ian sounds really good with this much power backing him up. Click on a photo to go to the full gallery.
All Images Copyright © Michael Klayman 2011, All Rights Reserved.
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