How many of you have shot concerts at Victoria Concert Hall before?


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Headshotzx

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Dec 14, 2007
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#1
Hey guys! I've been asked to shoot a concert band's ticket-based concert this Saturday. The venue is the Victoria Concert Hall. I have shot legally at VCH once last year in January, and that's when my skill and gear weren't good.

This year I'll go prepared with lots of good gear. However, there are a few questions I'd like to ask anyone who has experience with VCH management and or other concert venues like Esplanade, Singapore Conference Hall, YST conservatory.

Point number 1--

Firstly.. VCH management is really not accommodating to musicians and photographers alike. They have told my in-charge that no 'roaming photography' is allowed, and that the photographers should be at the top of the hall shooting. Now tell me which respectful creative and artistic concert photographer actually wants that?


Further more; please note that the photographer is to be located at a designated photography/video nest in the Circles. No roaming photograph taking is allowed.
- VCH management

The band has already bought the photography license for the concert. I'm not too sure if VCH limits the number of photographers if they behave (lol?), so I'll ask a photographer friend or two along (with official name tags).

My plan is to make the most of what I can shoot while camping from my position at the top (red spots on 2nd level in plan above). That is before the intermission. Right after that, while my photographer friends continue camping at the top, I will try my luck to move down to the first level (front audience seats are usually not sold, so shooting at the front shouldn't bother anyone). That, and side-stage if the door is open-- that will allow me lots of great shots of the conductors.

Point number 2--

Do you think that setting up a remote camera (400D + tokina 11-16 ultra-wide) placed relatively sound-proofed (shoebox + lots of thick cloth + opening for lens) right behind the band would be okay? It'll be visible to me (and my photographer friend, if he's going) all the time, and won't be accessible to any players on stage.



It'll get never-before-seen photographs of the band playing in VCH. Of course, photographs like that might be "never-before-seen" because it never was allowed. What's your view on this?

Cheers,
Zexun
 

findjk

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Feb 19, 2009
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#2
I'm fine with being stucked while the band is playing because I usually get most of my pictures during their final rehearsal. It isn't nice to move about during the performance.

It'll be nice to check if they are doing live recording. They won't want slapping sounds from your camera? I don't know hows the setup like but won't it be attention attracting?
 

surrephoto

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Jan 14, 2009
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#3
Hello,

I've been playing in concert bands and chinese orchestra for a long while, got experience in this type of things.

Attempt to take 80% of your stage shots during rehearsal. Try to get permission to do some shots during concert, but the shutter can be really distracting.

Get a copy of the program booklet to keep yourself informed.

Study some music theory so you understand some basic meanings of what the conductor is spouting.

Even during rehearsals, going too close to musicians is distracting so try to not move around too much within them. With their mutes, stands, scores and 2nd instruments you might hit something.

Note down all the sections/instrument and produce some work of every. Or else you might sneeze a few weeks later! This will take you apart from other photographers who don't do their homework;

Brass: Trumpet, Trombone, French Horn, Euphonium, Tuba
Woodwind: Flute, Clarinet (theres also a smaller one called E-flat clarinet), Oboe (larger one may occur, called english horn), Bassoon (HCJC has a double-sized bassoon so be aware that your school might have one too), Saxophone (many sizes)
Percussion: Many instruments such as xylophone, marimba, timpani etc. Can check it online.

As some instruments are under-maintained, can be biased to take shots of the shinier instruments!

Otherwise the musicians will definately treat you like a standard non-knowlegeable photographer (try to avoid this! They will become un-enthu).

Shooting during the concert is possible. Most importantly watch the rehearsal once and note the loudest piece/portions. You can try asking the conductor when the "Fortissimo" (Italian for "Very,very loud and strong") is. In this portion take your chance behind the band to fire away (so you can get the conductor backed by audience type of shot.)

Even so, the shutter may be heard at portions of the hall where sound hardly travels into. The blind-spot are the seats under the circle seat portion, so your shutter will be heard there. Your best bet is still the designated photography spots at the circle-seats area.

Note the best times to take group shots, friends gather like mad infront of the stage during intermission so go near during the last piece before intermission. There you can show your photographic prowess and help your buddies take pictures.

Btw, if i didn't get you school/JC wrong, the conductor is a very insteresting and peculiar man. Try to talk to him before the concert and build some rapport and show you got e skillz and consideration for music!

Lol, thats all i got to share.
 

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Dream Merchant

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Jan 11, 2007
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#5
Headshotzx,

Your pre-planning and logistics are excellent!

I am IMPRESSED!

TOO many wannabies won't even look past asking about what equipment to use.

I agree with serrephoto - get MOST of your shots during final and FD reharsals. Your on-concert day shots will be very limited due to the restrictive nature of the conditions set by management, and for good reason.

All the best for your shoot.
 

Apr 15, 2008
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#6
wow, this sure is an informative thread! :thumbsup:

Kinda sad they don't allow roaming though :confused: They probably expect 4+ photographers per concert!


(wonder if the esplanade concert hall has such a policy :think:)
 

Headshotzx

Senior Member
Dec 14, 2007
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#7
Hi surrephoto,

Thanks for your infomative post. I have been part of the Saints family of concert bands (under Mr David Anthony Glosz) for 4 years already, so I do know the yes-and-no's to classical / contemporary band concert photography. The main event is the (ticket) concert, and thus I will never ever get in the way of the musical excellence and audience. As for the almost-completely-sound-proofed remote camera (if I am allowed), I will continue spamming it even if the band's playing at ppp. Unless they complain, of course.

I have been asked to shoot during the rehearsal. It's a non-full-dress rehersal, so the shots will be different. I have planned everything a few days ago on my blog (http://panda-photo.blogspot.com/2009/02/photography-coverage-for-sab.html), but only thought about the remote camera proposal yesterday night. I have been granted permission by the band, but not the VCH management (not yet anyway, should I ask? Or just chiong?)

If my photographer friend is joining me to shoot, I'll have him stationed at the photography-spot at the circle level. After shooting the pre-intermission concert and intermission reception events, I'll try my luck and proceed to level 1 and side-stage (where the door should be open for musicians to walk in and out. I am sure I can get very good shots from there.

As for the remote camera.. Maybe I could use the 11-16mm for UWA photography of the band (and audience) before intermission. During intermission, I'll then swap the UWA for my 85mm and pre-focus on the conductor's stand area. That should get never-before-seen shots of our conductor while he's conducting the concert.

On a completely different note, I am allowed to borrow 2 x 40D's for the concert, and use my 400D ungripped (or gripped, for battery sake) for the remote camera. Going to be fun, since I only own a mere 400D gripped.

---

Saints Hallelujah IX Photography Coverage

Gear to bring:

Main Camera
Borrowed 40D
70-200 2.8L IS
580EXII (in case I need to shoot with flash during the 'giving thanks to VIPs' part)

Secondary Camera
Borrowed 40D
17-40mm f/4L or 50mm f/1.8

Remote Camera
Gripped 400D
Borrowed Tokina 11-16mm f/2.8 *pre-focused and set to manual focus so there's no AF sound
or 85mm f/1.8
4GB CF card
Placed in a relatively-soundproofed (with cloth) shoebox

1 x Tripod
2 x Tripod quick release plates


Photographs to shoot

PC = Pre/Post-Concert, AC = Actual Concert

PC Setup

PC non-full dress concert rehearsal
PC Candids / Group shots
PC audience / crowd

AC Whole Band
AC Section focus
AC Soloists (still awaiting solo tracking by piece from SAB)
AC VIP Reception

AC thanksgiving (VIPs, Conductors, President)
AC audience / crowd

PC pack-up
PC member's group / candid photographs
PC family photographs with members

---

Thanks for the dicsussion guys. I'll keep you updated if I ever think of more stuff.

EDIT: Thanks Dream Merchant for the complements =)

Cheers,
Zexun
 

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chanxj

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Sep 4, 2006
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#8
Most professional venues impose similar rules. Esplanade ur only supposed to shoot from a predefined location which could be far far away from the stage(depending on hall). University Cultural centre/ The Republic Cultural Centre doesn't impose this rule the last time i shot there, but its good practice not to move around too much during the show. Get sequence of event and see the rehearsal to familiarise yourself. btw VCH backstage is not that easy to navigate. Got loose nails around the last time i was there, so becareful.
 

Minimalis

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Feb 25, 2002
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#9
Hi Headshotz...

Is this the concert which features the alumni band as well? Gee I haven't kept in touch with the guys in a while..the last time I performed with them was probably 5 yrs ago :bsmilie:

Anyway, I've been photographing concerts for the last 12 yrs or so in all the venues you've mentioned (Esplanade's generally more anal than VCH, VCH was a photographer's haven, in my opinion). Yes you can get pretty decent shots from the two side boxes up in circle, a well as the area beside the control box. Another would be to shoot in between the stage doors. Open it slightly, enough for you to stick your lens through. That area's not intrusive, and the audience wouldn't even notice you were there. On stage right there's a steep stairwell so you'd want to be careful there. Front row seats are accessible by the doors right in front of the stage so you can try accessing there during interval (the doors are heavy and the do creak a little so may be disturbing if you enter in the middle of a piece).

One thing about shooting classical concerts, use a camera with a lower decibel shutter, especially in a place like the Esplanade. I once did a shoot with a D700 and a backup D90; the D700's shutter was so loud that everytime i clicked a certain portion of the audience within the vicinity would look at me. After a while I changed to the more silent D90 and that worked, although I would have loved to use the high ISO abaility of the D700.

You would want to use as fast a lens as you can get your hands on. Moving about in a concert hall stealthily's not easy, and a tripod would hamper your movement, not to mention that it'll make you appear more clumsy. Hence, fast lens and preferably VR so that you can handhold your shots.

From stage left door...


From front row...
 

Headshotzx

Senior Member
Dec 14, 2007
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#10
Minimalis, you were from Saints Alumni Band?

"Another would be to shoot in between the stage doors. Open it slightly, enough for you to stick your lens through. That area's not intrusive, and the audience wouldn't even notice you were there."

Exactly what I am going to try to do. To achieve shots similar to your first photograph in the above post, but with a longer lens. A 200mm should do the trick.

I guess I should only move about between pieces played. That wouldn't be as distracting I guess.

Cheers,
Zexun
 

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