Shooting in the dark / by Mario Mirabile

Modern camera equipment is remarkably capable, able to take photos in all sorts of difficult lighting. But some situations are designed to defeat all but the latest top flight pro equipment. Such was the case at the Fox Hotel in Collingwood this evening where Slim Dime and the Prairie Kings were performing their upbeat hillbilly boogie.

The lighting was the usual crazy venue mix of incandescent, fluorescent and LED. Surprisingly, however, it all managed to blend together to produce quite a decent level and color of lighting - as long as you wanted to photograph the band's shoes that is. The main LED light were angled down so that the performers' faces were almost always in shadow, resulting in unworkable shutter speeds and ISO settings. Fortunately the music was lively and entertaining, and I did manage to get a few nice shots of the lead singer, Jen, who found the light from time to time.

A great band and well worth seeing if they're playing down your way.

Tech talk
Both images were shot with my Olympus E-5 and Zuiko Digital 35-100mm f2.0 at f2.0. The first image was ISO 1600 at 1/80s, the other at ISO 3200 at 1/125s. I'm usually reluctant to shoot above ISO 800, but the lack of light here dictated otherwise. I'm surprised at how well the ISO 3200 shot came up, but it shows that high ISO is not a critical problem as long as you're not shooting into deep shadow. I wouldn't try making a big print out of it, but it's fine for web display. Most shots at this ISO, but in shadow, were pretty much unusable. Also, autofocus was quite slow difficult, particularly as the band members were moving around the stage. Of the 150 frames from the gig, I probably got 6 images I'd be happy to use.

RAW processed in Lightroom 5.2 and Photoshop CS6.