Carla Coates, Butcher Babies

Lovely frontwoman Carla Coates performing with Butcher Babies at Rock on the Range earlier this month.

Lovely frontwoman Carla Coates performing with Butcher Babies at Rock on the Range earlier this month.
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5 Comments | Report
BrunoHeeb PRO
BrunoHeeb April 18, 2015
amazing shot
R_G_RavenWolfclaw May 10, 2016
Nice shot
DragonfirePhotographySA January 20, 2019
Awesome shot. Your timing was perfect
margaretgodfrey PRO
margaretgodfrey August 13, 2020
great shot congrats on winning challenge :)
eye5photo PRO+
eye5photo March 20, 2023
Carla Harvey
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Behind The Lens

This photo was taken on the first day of nationally renowned rock and metal music festival Rock on the Range back in May, this year.
This band (Butcher Babies) took stage just after 4:00 PM. The first day of this particular festival was unusually cold and miserably rainy, but on a positive note, that meant overcast lighting instead of a blaring sun.
One of the challenging aspects of concert photography is that you have absolutely no control over the lighting. Whether the concert is indoors, outdoors, national or local, you are almost never allowed to use flash or provide any other lighting, be it off camera or on camera. Whatever the venue or stage presents is what you have to work with, so this was taken in lighting au naturale.
I swear by my trusty Nikon D700 and the faithful 24-70mm f/2.8 lens. The shot was handheld, no tripod or flash involved.
One of my own inspirations (Allen Ross Thomas) once said, "Do not chase a moment that has already happened; instead, anticipate the next big moment and be positioned for it." - and that has been pretty much the biggest guideline I follow with concert photography. Whenever I'm in front of a stage, I'm imagining what the next "perfect" moment will be, and then I compose the shot and wait for the performer to fall into place; whether that means waiting for them to jump off a riser or waiting for the head bang that tosses long hair around in beautiful chaos.
I always shoot in RAW, so I did some basic tweaking to give her skin tone a shirt color a little more vibrancy. I did selective sharpening on the hair to make it pop a little more against the background, and then some minor skin smoothing/softening.
In my camera bag
I'm always equipped with two Nikon D700s and the tri-force zoom lenses: 14-24mm f/2.8, 24-70mm f/2.8, and the 70-200mm f/2.8. The wide lens makes more some really interesting shots in more intimate venues, and the 70-200mm is great for stages that are up really high or that are deep and/or wide. However, that 24-70 is the lens I take about 70% of all my concert photos from, and I would definitely be kicking myself in the butt if I ever went anywhere without it. I also have a 60mm macro lens, though I haven't made use of it in a concert setting yet.
I have endless advice for concert photography - but I have to preface it with saying that it's not the easiest subject matter to get in to. There are very few resources out there for it and you have to work your way up to getting credentials into bigger shows and festivals. Once you have that part down, I'd say the biggest two tips I can offer are to be patient and always anticipate. I shoot shows with both of my eyes open so that I can see what's happening on the other end of the stage. I also watch live concert videos of the band beforehand so I can get an idea of when they might jump or move into a certain position. When you have an idea of what's going to happen next, it makes it a lot easier to get into a position and compose the shot - then it's just a matter of being patient and making sure you're ready for THAT moment. Specifically referencing this photo, it was a matter of having the correct settings (I always shoot in manual and try to keep my shutter higher than 1/250 for minimal motion blur) and waiting for her to toss her head and send her hair flying. Even though I definitely wouldn't give all the credit to her, it does help to have a little bit of lady luck on your side.

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