Low light, fast gestures, f/1.4 primes, and the tightest photo pit in the world – piece of Cake, right?
I have to say, this was probably the tightest photo pit that I've ever shot in. The barricade was so close to the stage that its braces were under the overhang of the stage, so moving around (with three other photographers, no less) required a lot of concerted coordination.
Add in the other standard factors of the Pageant's high stage, monitors, and low light that brought this into prime lens territory and you've got a tough shoot. On the upside, it was Cake.
The big winners for this show were the little Nikon 50mm f/1.4 and the 85mm f/1.4, which I shot wide open at f/1.4 for much of the show. Overall, lighting was very atmospheric and weak, though the haze in the background did wonders to add a nice depth to the stage lighting. Still, you know it's dark when you're at 1/80 at f/1.4 and ISO 3200.
One thing that kept this show interesting – and a constant challenge with regard to composition – was singer John McCrea's frequent gestures with his arms and hands during the first and second songs.
Overall, the 85mm was almost perfect for shooting John in these moments. For all the times when I would love to shoot with just f/2.8 zooms for the convenience of range and framing, primes are still indispensable – even with great low light tools like the Nikon D3 and Nikon D700.
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