Anberlin launched in a 35-minute set under dim backlighting in a performance that was dominated by the rock band's bright melodies and frontman Stephen Christian‘s constant movement on stage. Even at ISO 12800, the dull lighting schemes were a challenge for the D3 and 24-70mm f/2.8.
Hitting heavy from the start, the band whipped up the crowd with an energetic performance that had the floor singing back the choruses and following Christian from wing to wing.
This shoot was a little nasty. Nikon D3 or a Lomo loaded with Tech Pan, the light just wasn't there, which provided a unique challenge when combined with lead Stephen Christian's constant and furious movement during the first the songs.
The frontman, unfettered by a instrument, took free reign of the stage, workings its length in an aerobic performance that kept the photographers in the pit shaking their heads.
I found the best approach to photographing Christian was to play zone defense and wait for him to approach the strip of stage I was working. Tracking the singer seemed like a wasted effort, especially given the premium on light.
For this set, it was the usual: first three, no flash.
For Anberlin's first three songs, the lighting was perhaps a little more abundant than it was for starters Metro Station, but the actual quality of the light proved more problematic and created the impression of an even more difficult shoot.
Three main lighting schemes dominated the performance: a warm mix of red/orange, a cooler mix of blue-turquoise, and finally a dull wash of blue-magenta lighting. All of these mixes flared up from the back, with very little front lighting, if any, which proved to be the toughest challenge.
White light made brief appearances to punctuate the the atmospheric floods, but was the exception to the rule. While no flash was allowed, I think Anberlin's performance was one that would have benefited from the option for fill.
I used the Nikon 24-70mm f/2.8 for this set, primarily at 35mm and below. The Nikon 14-24mm f/2.8 might have been useful in capturing the energy of the band in a wider perspective, but 24mm on the Nikon D3's FX sensor did a serviceable job.
Thanks to the constant flood of backlighting, Anberlin's set was an interesting opportunity to get acquainted with the flare and ghosting properties of the midrange zoom. Despite the abundance of those artifacts in the above shots, I actually think the lens did quite well considering the circumstances.
By contrast, I found that the lens rendered very little flare during Motion City Soundtrack and Mae's sets, which also featured heavy backlighting. Still, I'll have to keep an eye on this performance under other circumstances.
I tried to keep shutter speeds up for this frenetic band, shooting at 1/160 and up at f/2.8 and ISO 10000, with occasional bumps up to ISO 12800. Still, even with these ridiculous sensitivities, the struggle against motion blur and the difficult lighting made this shoot a constant challenge during the short three songs I shot.
This set was pretty raucous to shoot, but I'd be curious to see how the experience would differ with headliner lights and more room on the stage.
Shooting with the D2x, Anberlin's was a set that would have had me reaching for the Nikon 50mm f/1.4 and Sigma 30mm f/1.4 primes when the lights went down.
The new camera didn't take away the challenge, but certainly opened up new possibilities to use a more utilitarian zoom range while still keeping shutter speeds up, which, in concert photography, are always good things.