On the Road: Backstage Portraits, Part 1

Nikon D200, 35mm 1.8 AF-S DX, ISO 200, f/2.8, 1/60 sec.
Nikon D200, 35mm 1.8 AF-S DX, ISO 200, f/2.8, 1/60 sec.

Being on tour with a working band is a lot of fun. As a photographer, it’s a playground. Having been in the band for almost four years now, I know my subjects well and, perhaps just as important, they are used to seeing me with a camera. I also have access to all of the behind-the-scenes moments.

Nikon D200, 35mm 1.8 AF-S DX, ISO 200, f/2.8, 1/30 sec.
Nikon D200, 35mm 1.8 AF-S DX, ISO 200, f/2.8, 1/30 sec.

My journey in learning to light began almost a year ago and I incorporated that knowledge into my photos on this last tour. My favorite series of photos from tour have been the backstage portraits. In some of the photos, I told the musicians to just keep doing what they were doing—imagining that I’m not even there. In others, I chose to pose them or they chose to pose themselves.

Nikon D200, 35mm 1.8 AF-S DX, ISO 200, f/2.8, 1/60 sec.
Nikon D200, 35mm 1.8 AF-S DX, ISO 200, f/2.8, 1/60 sec.

That choice was really dependent upon what they were doing. If they were warming up or trying to have a quiet moment before the show, I tried to be as unobtrusive as possible. If they were standing around talking or hanging out, I would pose them a little bit. When posing, I let the subject choose a natural pose and then gave them a little bit of direction without changing their natural gesture too much.

Nikon D200, 35mm 1.8 AF-S DX, ISO 200, f/4, 1/250 sec.
Nikon D200, 35mm 1.8 AF-S DX, ISO 200, f/4, 1/250 sec.

Lighting setups were simple. Part 1 of this series of portraits features portraits that were taken with an SB-26 in a small LumiQuest softbox mounted on a compact stand. The whole idea was to keep things light and portable. A softbox that collapses down to fit in a backpack, and a lightstand that folds up compactly and has a shoulder strap (LumoPro’s LP605S).

Nikon D200, 35mm 1.8 AF-S DX, ISO 100, f/9, 1/250 sec.
Nikon D200, 35mm 1.8 AF-S DX, ISO 100, f/9, 1/250 sec.

My fill light, when I chose to use it, was ambient light. This can be tricky backstage. Very dim ambient levels dictate higher ISOs, wide apertures, and slower shutter speeds. One plus is that it kept my flash power extremely low (think between 1/16 and 1/64) so I had negligible recycle times.

Stay tuned for parts 2 & 3 of this series, which will include some other types of lighting. I’ll leave you with this great image of our musical director. He has a fantastically quirky sense of humor and really wanted his photo in front of some chairs that we found stacked backstage.

Rob
Nikon D200, 50mm 1.8 AF, ISO 100, f/4, 1/250 sec.
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