This one should actually be called "Skyblasters, part 0", as it precedes the other two galleries, here and here. Turns out a previous version of this series was published on my facebook page shortly after the event (here - you may need to log in for that), but never made it to the website. This was my first attempt at concert photography !
At the time, I used another workflow, which may, in part, explain my choice for B&W back then: perhaps I couldn't get the colours to where I wanted them to be (realistic, but, given the hard ambient light, vibrant). More likely, I felt the harsh light and high dynamic range simply came better into their own in the absence of colour, but in any case, I remember the files requiring a lot of work, even in B&W.
This time around, I went for a different approach, and a different selection of files. I have always liked deep shadows in my shots, but for those shadows to feel right in a reportage context, you need (1) hard light that makes them believable, and (2) interesting textures or tonality in the midtones to highlight region, to really provide separation of, or a sense of shape to, your subject (look at how the light plays with the black vests).
The background of the tent the band was playing under, was a dull off-white, so I shot sideways whenever I could, avoiding it (and unfortunately, some band members with it) altogether. The green of the trees contrasted nicely with the red shirt of one of the guitarists, which was one reason why some shots are in colour. The other would be that I wanted to find out whether I could render the colours in a way I liked.
To bring the series together, I had to pull down the shadows in the colour shots as well, and I did so further than what I remember seeing during the show. Still, I do believe the overall high contrast is believable, given the extremely high dynamic range and hard light. I can tell you, the sungrasses worn by the band members were no mere fashion statement.
While I'm usually not enamoured (and that's an understatement) by the overly saturated colours that seem to have become common place these days, I thought they were necessary here to give the colours a reason for being.
All in all, I still feel the B&W shots do things more justice in this case. They fit the quality of light perfectly, and let's face it: remove the colour, and pictures of musicians in light like this acquire an ageless and classy, yet slighty rough flair, which is enhanced even further by the fact that this was an unplugged performance. Or perhaps that's just me.
Pity though that because of the high sun, some band members (i.e., those without sunglasses) were sitting in the shadow of the tent roof, which, combined with the white-ish background, made for a rather dull look. I upped the contrast in those shots as far as I deemed appropriate, but they're not really getting there. Still, I couldn't leave those guys out, now could I?
While I shot with my Coolpix A (28 mm full frame equivalent) and an 85 1.8 on full frame, for this new selection, only the 85 mm shots seemed to have survived the culling process, and, contrary to how I usually shoot, some had to be cropped quite a bit to get to the framing I had in mind when shooting.