It’s been a while now, but in May i had the opportunity to be part of the photographer crew at the PSK music festival. My company has been working with PSK Events, who are the producers of this festival for punk, ska and hardcore music that is held in Stockholm every year. We have been helping them with their online marketing and their web site. It’s been a really fun project. One thing we found was that many of these bands, even though many of them tour internationally, don’t have good photos of themselves. We struggled to find good photos of many of these bands for the web.
At the venue, i met on the first day with the other three photographers covering the event – Martin, Marika and Anders. I volunteered to shoot from a balcony facing the stage. I had no desire to be in the mosh pit in front of the stage and i saw no point in hanging out backstage since i really don’t know who’s who in the punk scene. I’d done some research on concert photo beforehand which i’d summed up in this post on shooting concerts. I figured i had a decent idea about how to get the job done.
So there i was, up on the balcony with my 70-200 lens on. It was very crowded and leaving my spot was not an option, because it was perfect.
This was my first time photographing concerts. It’s very different from what i usually do with my camera. I had this idea that i would be using aperture mode and spot metering, but i dropped that pretty quickly. I switched to manual mode and used that all the time. For the exposure, i cranked the ISO up to 3200 and the aperture to f2.8 and used a shutter speed of 1/200 of a second give or take one step, depending on stage lighting. On the second day, i brought my backup Nikon D90 camera with a 35 mm lens and having two cameras to alter between was great. I wish i’d had that both days. Changing lenses in the crows was not an option.
You have to know your camera
One thing i quickly realized, is that you have to be able to operate your camera in darkness. You need to know where all the buttons are and be able to set ISO, shutter speed, aperture and select your focus points without seeing your buttons. This was a challenge. Next time i do this, i’ll practice a little beforehand to make it easier.
My absolute favourite photo from the entire event is this one. In the darkness i spotted my friend Jokke in front of the stage. I shot a couple of photos and this one came out best. The light was very blue, so i converted it to black and white.
Hard work and long days
It was a couple of busy days. I was shooting from the early afternoon until well after midnight and then i drove home in the summer night to upload all the photos and start organizing them. I went to bed for a few hours and then got up early to edit and publish. The first edited photos were up on Instagram and the web just few hours after the bands walked off the stage. I had good use for my workflow for processing big batches of photos that i’ve developed over the years of photographing handball games. By 03:00, my nightly Crashplan backups start rolling and then i had my files secured in three places.
Given the camera settings, the photos of course have some noise in them, but i really don’t mind. I deleted all the totally useless photos and ended up with about 4000 photos from these two days.
Mission accomplished, wristbands are cut. I’ll be back next year because this was a lot of fun. Most of all, it was an interesting learning experience from a photography standpoint.