August 23, 2008 – Bruce Sprinsteen and the E Street Band performed at the Scottrade Center arena in a no-frills production that saw the Boss dig deep into his back catalog, with frequent trips across the length of the stage to return a bit of the love his fans displayed so enthusiastically. With a very sparse stage treatment and 360º seating, it was a night of no frills – just rock.
While I generally prefer to avoid soundboard assignments, I jumped at the opportunity to photograph The Boss. Going into this show, I knew well in advance that this was going to be a soundboard shoot, so I came packing. I decided on the Nikon 500mm f/4 and the 1.4x TC for the Nikon D3, which put me at an effective 700mm. You'll have to believe me when I say that every millimeter counted for this gig.
We were set up behind the soundboard on a slightly elevated platform – quite ways off from the stage at the opposite end of the floor. Still, the super telephoto and teleconverter did an admirable job at helping to close the distance. The reach was just about perfect for a full-length shot of Springsteen at center stage.
The effective f/5.6 aperture of the combo made for a considerable cut in light, so I shot the entire performance at ISO 6400, with marginal shutter speeds hovering around 1/250. Given that the 500mm f/4 is about as big as my leg, I shot the whole rig on my old Manfrotto 3021 with the Really Right Stuff BH-55 ballhead.
Aside from the telephoto prime, I also twisted on the 70-200mm and 14-24mm for a few one-off shots with the Nikon D700 for wider perspectives.
Overall, the stage treatment was very simply and without much variation during the two songs we shot. The light levels were fairly bright, given the arena setting, but lacking in the surgical brightness of some larger pop shows.
Did you see the halftime show for the 43rd Superbowl? If not, you should definitely check out the video, particularly the first song, “Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out,” where the Boss does a powerslide over the stage – right into the camera. His face when he gets up is priceless – that's pure love.
The knee slide is at about 2:20 in this video.