Canberra Swing Katz - Canberra City Band Floriade 2016

Canberra City Band in Floriade 2016 — photoshoot notes

Introduction

Canberra City Band in Floriade 2016

Recently I’ve been fortunate enough to be invited to photograph Canberra city band’s performance in Floriade 2016.

CCB is one of Australia’s oldest community concert bands, serving the ACT community for over 90 years and recently ‑among many other accolades — won the New South Wales A Grade Concert Band Championship 2016, Australian National Eisteddfod Champions 2009 – 2016.Here are my technical notes of photographing the performance.

Here are my technical notes of photographing the performance.

The problem with the scene’s dynamic range

Music director face is darker in than the mid-tone in background. Canberra City Band in Floriade 2016
Music director’s face is darker in than the mid-tone in the background. Canberra City Band in Floriade 2016


Canberra City Band performance photography in Floriade 2016 was amazing and difficult at the same time. In an ordinary sunlit midday, there’s around one stop of difference in light between the surroundings and the stage 88 itself. So you have to either overexpose the backgrounds or take an underexposed shot and pull one stop of details from shadows, which I dislike. Pulling details from shadows in landscape photography and inanimate objects is one thing, and doing the same on the delicate human skin is another, and usually leads to unpleasant results, unless you are looking at a particular effect.
Now, the performance day was dark and rainy, and I had around 3.5 stops of difference between mid-tones outside and inside the stage. So, while having the cloudy sky as a slightly underpowered softbox helped to take shots from people under the tent, the difference with the surrounding made the job rather difficult. But after all, I don’t want to pretend that I took pictures on a sunny day, so let the things be true to themselves. The following picture is a good example of the situation that I had:

Musician's face is at least 3½ stop darker than the sky in the RAW capture. No flash used.
Musician’s face is at least 3½ stop darker than the sky in the RAW capture. No flash.

They say don’t do black and white just for the aesthetics.…

Canberra City Band in Floriade 2016

I disagree with that. I love the pure black and white photography (as the joy of seeing the world black and white and taking pictures of that). But sometimes, converting a colour photo into black and white can remove distractions. Maybe it’s the only technique that ‑unlike all other post processing techniques-  can turn an ordinary picture into a something worthy of keeping.

First steps in dance photography

Canberra Swing Katz in Canberra City Band in Floriade 2016
Canberra Swing Katz in Canberra City Band in Floriade 2016

Canberra Swing Katz in Canberra City Band in Floriade 2016
Canberra Swing Katz in Canberra City Band in Floriade 2016

From my past experience in dance photography, when you haven’t been to rehearsals, you will get constantly surprised by the moves and your subjects hands and feet will be out of the frame, ruining otherwise great shots. So wide-angle, good shots need anticipation that either needs knowledge about particular moves of the dance you are photographing or simply having the chance to attend rehearsals.


When you have none of the above, I think one of the best techniques is stepping back and zooming in. This way, you can anticipate the movements and keep the dancers within the frame without knowing their next moves.

 

Canberra City Band in Floriade 2016

I’ve chosen to bring a Canon 60D and 24 – 105L for dance shots (Best thing I had access too) and it was useful because of spot-on and fast autofocus and good frame rate. I also liked the film-like black and white renderings of the lens and camera combination. These days any seemingly notable photography results (or even cheesy ones) are attributed as being “film-like”. But by film-like, I just mean a slow and smooth transition to highlights, which was very pleasant in the case of Canon 60D. The negative part was the shallow camera buffer of 16 images in RAW. If I have to do photography again with the same configuration, I would certainly turn off burst shooting or at least put it on slow burst mode, not being out of memory in the midst of photography.

For complete gallery, please visit the following gallery in Flickr:

 
Canberra City Band - Floriade 2016

Canberra City Band open day 2016

Canberra City Band open day 2016

The Canberra City Band Inc. is the leading community music organisation in Australia’s capital city. The organisation has several ensembles that all contribute to and serve the Canberra community. In addition to the original concert band, the organisation includes Spectrum Big Band and the John Agnew Band. The organisation also includes a number of small ensembles.

CCB is one of Australia’s oldest community concert bands and Australian National Eisteddfod Band Champions 2009 – 2015. Also, CCB was runner-up National Band Championship 2015.

I had the privilege to photograph the Canberra City Band open day 2016. Here are a selection of photos. Many thanks to CCB members, organisers and music directors for their kindness, patience and support.

 

Canberra City Band open day 2016

Canberra City Band open day 2016

Canberra City Band open day 2016

The Canberra City Band Inc. is the leading community music organisation in Australia’s capital city. The organisation has several ensembles that all contribute to and serve the Canberra community. In addition to the original concert band, the organisation includes Spectrum Big Band and the John Agnew Band. The organisation also includes a number of small ensembles.

CCB is one of Australia’s oldest community concert bands and Australian National Eisteddfod Band Champions 2009 – 2015. Also, CCB was runner-up National Band Championship 2015.

I had the privilege to photograph the Canberra City Band open day 2016. Here are a selection of photos. Many thanks to CCB members, organisers and music directors for their kindness, patience and support.

Canberra City Band open day 2016

Jazz photography: Spectrum Big Band

Spectrum Big Band has established a veritable reputation as a first class big band, playing music from a wide range of styles including big band favourites, jazz, swing, latin and rock.

Spectrum was originally established as the Canberra City Big Band in the early 80s under John Helgesen. At the time, this was the first community big band in Canberra, and the first youth big band to perform at the Merimbula Jazz Festival (1986), and was later renamed KickBrass. It disbanded in 1992 but was reformed in 1997 as Spectrum under Glen Rogers, changing its name to Spectrum Big Band in 2007 under Rod Mason OAM.

Today it has over 20 members and performs regularly around town at corporate functions, jazz festivals, community events and private parties. It regularly combines with Jumptown Swing and Swing Katz to bring back that feel of the 30s and 40s! In 2012 and 2013, Spectrum Big Band was a finalist in the Music ACT Annual Music Awards (MAMAs) in the category of Best Orchestra, Concert, Brass or Big Band. (source)

Acknowledgement:

I would like to express my great appreciation to Adam Matthews to give me the permission to document the band’s rehearsals and performances. Also, I would like to thank the band members for their kindness and patience with me.