Photos: Lil Wayne, I Am Still Music Tour 2011

Lil Wayne performing live on the I Am Still Music Tour at the Scottrade Center in St. Louis, MO, on April 10, 2011. (Todd Owyoung)

On his return to the stage mere months after his release from Riker's Island, Lil Wayne's I Am Still Music Tour rocked the Scottrade Center and 12,000 fans strong with support from Nicki Minaj, Rick Ross, Mix Master Mike and Travis Barker. Even from the soundboard, I have to say that this was a pretty spectacular show.

Lil Wayne performing live on the I Am Still Music Tour at the Scottrade Center in St. Louis, MO, on April 10, 2011. (Todd Owyoung)

Lil Wayne performing live on the I Am Still Music Tour at the Scottrade Center in St. Louis, MO, on April 10, 2011. (Todd Owyoung)

Lil Wayne performing live on the I Am Still Music Tour at the Scottrade Center in St. Louis, MO, on April 10, 2011. (Todd Owyoung)

Lil Wayne performing live on the I Am Still Music Tour at the Scottrade Center in St. Louis, MO, on April 10, 2011. (Todd Owyoung)

Lil Wayne performing live on the I Am Still Music Tour at the Scottrade Center in St. Louis, MO, on April 10, 2011. (Todd Owyoung)

Lil Wayne performing live on the I Am Still Music Tour at the Scottrade Center in St. Louis, MO, on April 10, 2011. (Todd Owyoung)

Lil Wayne performing live on the I Am Still Music Tour at the Scottrade Center in St. Louis, MO, on April 10, 2011. (Todd Owyoung)

Photographer's Notes:

Cameras Used:

  • Nikon D3

Lenses Used:

  • Nikon 70-200mm f/2.8 VR
  • Nikon 400mm f/2.8 VR II from BorrowLenses.com
  • Nikon TC-17E II 1.7x teleconverter from BorrowLenses.com

Camera & Lens Support:

  • Bogen 3021 Tripod
  • Wimberley Gimbal Head from BorrowLenses.com

Lil Wayne, just like on his I Am Music Tour, was a soundboard shoot for this 2011 tour. I guess once you go soundboard, you don't go back.

Overall, production on this tour is pretty huge, with a nice LED wall behind Lil Wayne at the back of the stage and relatively plenty of spotlights on Lil Wayne himself. I say relatively, because strangely enough, Lil Wayne was the most dimly lit of all the performers on the I Am Still Music Tour (with the exception of Mix Master Mike).

I'd say that Lil Wayne's front lighting was actually a good 1 to 1 1/3-stop darker than that of the other acts of the evening. While this would not at all have been an issue with a pit shooting at f/2.8, when you factor in the huge lenses and slower f-stops used for a soundboard shoot, 1-stop of light of conventionally bright light does start to have meaning.

Regardless, Lil Wayne's setup was a good step up from his last arena tour and the LED walls behind him did a lot to add interest, especially as defocused highlights.

Renting The Big Gun

For soundboard shoots, the normal and seemingly ubiquitous 70-200mmm f/2.8 just won't even begin to do the job – not on an APS DSLR, let alone a full-frame camera like the Nikon D3.

To help close the distance, I rented the big Nikon 400mm f/2.8 VR from the folks at BorrowLenses.com. However, on the full-frame Nikon D3, even 400mm isn't really sufficient for a far soundboard shoot in an arena, so I also grabbed the Nikon 1.7x teleconverter for an effective 680mm at f/4.8.

This put me at a very comfortable range, and overall I thought this was an excellent setup for this tour. The 400mm f/2.8 gave me enough reach with the 1.7x teleconverter that I had a balance between a full frame of the performers with room to crop, without being too tight that I would have been cutting off limbs or incurring massive tracking issues.

To support this combo, I used my old Manfrotto 3021 tripod and rented a Wimberley Gimbal Head from BorrowLenses.com. The gimbal head did wonders to make managing the weight of the 400mm f/2.8 as easy as possible. If you're shooting a with a super telephoto and have the luxury of a tripod for an event shoot like this, my advice is to go for a gimbal head.

BorrowLenses.com definitely provided the goods to tackle this big show – highly and effortlessly recommended the next time you have a soundboard shoot and need to rent gear!

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My Camera DSLR and Lenses for Concert Photography

Nikon D850:
I use two Nikon D850 for my live music photography. A true do-it-all DSLR with amazing AF, fast response, and no shortage of resolution.
nikon-24-70mm-f28-lens-squareNikon 24-70mm f/2.8:
For most gigs, the 24-70mm is my go-to lens. Exceptional image quality at wide apertures and super-functional range.
Nikon-70-200-squareNikon 70-200mm f/2.8 VR:
A perfect pair to the Nikon 24-70mm f/2.8, I can basically shoot any job with the midrange and this lens. Superb image quality.
nikon-14-24mm-f28-lens-squareNikon 14-24mm f/2.8:
Ultra-wide perspective, ridiculously sharp even wide open at f/2.8. I love using this lens up-close and personal, where it excels.
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