Killing Joke put me in a trance. KJ took me back to my Goth Punk days when I did hair for that scene in Cleveland in the early 80s. They took me to an area of my conditioning that I haven’t had much access to since. To groove in an authentic situation like this was stabilizing and added a wash of color to an old, withered, dried up piece of my personal heritage. Another thing I didn’t know I needed, but received, a giant juicy injection of, in, as always, the pit.
As soon as I read a raving review of Tool’s recent album, Fear Inoculum, an album that was 13 years in the making, I immediately called out to Alexa to play it for me. I was instantly hooked and have been enjoying this finely crafted album almost daily ever since. This is something you can sink your ears into.
I was approved to photograph Tool with Killing Joke at PNC Arena and I was stoked. This was going to be an event to remember, so I dug in to do the research in preparation for this shoot.
One thing kept coming up was how difficult it was to capture Maynard James the vocalist for Tool. Word was that it would be dark and he would be located far back, behind the drum kit.
All true. After Killing Joke’s set, I took a risk and screwed on the Canon Extender EF 1.4x II to my Canon 70-200 f2.8 which turns it into a 98-280 f4.0 to get a tighter frame of Maynard back there behind the drum kit which was about 15 yards out from the pit. I have hardly used the extender. I bought it used of course, it makes the lens very heavy for hand-hold, and to top it off, I took a pro’s advice and turned off lens stabilization to boot. So this was the first time to try that. He explained lens stabilization is for still subjects, and musicians ain’t still. Turning off lens stabilization speeds up the decision making process the camera and lens need to make before activating the shutter. Settings for this rig ended up at 1/160 sec; f/4.0; ISO 10000!
I was concerned that I might be ramping up the ISO, so as part of my research for the shoot I looked into what custom camera settings there might be to help with noise.
I read that I’d get less noise if I lowered the raw image size. This made sense as there is less real estate for noise to infect. I had to sign a contract stating that I could only use the images for the publication I was shooting for, INDRA Magazine, so with the understanding these pics will only be seen here as tiny digital files I changed my raw setting from Large to Medium.
Then I checked that the setting “auto lighting optimizer” was disabled to insure I would have more detail in the blacks which I figured I might be pushing in post processing.
After all of these little tweaks with hardware and firmware, I hit youtube and reviewed the Noise and Sharpening features in Lightroom Classic. All the tutorials are different, but they all generally agree on jumping into these settings last after you have completed everything else in your post processing work flow.
I think things worked out pretty well. It was just down to capturing these guys. The pit was crowded, but it was a friendly bunch of photographers that night, we all were having a blast and the whole experience was great.