Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Backstage at Danny Knicely's Big Winter Concert! Nikon DSLRs Are Unbeatable in Challenging Light

On Friday, January 25, 2013, I had the great fortune to be on the guest list with backstage access for Danny Knicely's Big Winter Concert, held at Franklin Park Arts Center in Purcellville, Virginia. This year's concert featured Danny Knicely, Aimee Curl, Nate Leath, and Darren and Matthew Olwell.
(Click Here) to read more about Danny Knicely's musical pursuits. He does a Big Winter Concert every year. Each one is different, and this year's was a blast.
I shot this show with two Nikon DSLRs - my trusty D700, and a D300, which I picked up a while back from KEH for a spare. Other than the difference in sensor sizes, the two cameras are nearly identical. All of the controls are in the same places, with the exception of how you open the little cover to the CF card slot. I can live with that. The D300 is not quite as good as the D700 at high iso levels, so I wasn't sure how happy I'd be shooting it at this show.
Making the Set List
It Goes Something Like This...
Aimee Curl on Bass
Darren Olwell Amongst Cables and Instruments
Nate Leath Working the Bow (my favorite shot of the evening)
Aimee and Danny
Audience and Family Members Joining the Fun Onstage
It Really Is Winter Here
Franklin Park is a spectacular place for attending performances.
(Click Here) to go to Franklin Park's website.
So, how did it turn out, photographically? Since I carried both the D700 and D300, I was able to use primes, and carried only the Nikkor 24mm f2.8 AF-D, Nikkor 50mm f1.4 AF-D, and Nikkor 85mm f1.8 AF-D lenses. The 85mm stayed on the D300 all evening, taking advantage of the crop factor of the smaller sensor. In shooting performances here before with the D700 alone, I have always carried along the awesome Nikkor 180mm f2.8 AF lens as well. I didn't need it at all this time.
On the D700, I shot the 24mm much more than the 50mm, but did use both. The wide angle of the 24mm lens on the D700s full frame sensor really made shooting in the tight spaces backstage very easy.
Most of my shots throughout the evening were taken at iso 3200. Yes, I can see a difference in the noise with the D300, but at iso 3200 it cleaned up very nicely and easily in Lightroom. The final shot above was taken at iso 6400 with the D700.
I thoroughly enjoyed using the two Nikon bodies in tandem. It was nice to reduce how often I had to change lenses, which is a weakness of using prime lenses, rather than zooms. However, the primes are faster, sharper, and lighter than zooms. I am very pleased with the results.
I also enjoyed every minute of the performance, and hanging out with these extremely friendly musicians. I feel very fortunate to know them.