A Strength Within: Me, My Lens, & the Chaos

Posted: May 23, 2011 in A Strength Within, Concerts
Tags: , , , ,
“So where are you from?”
“The Philippines”
“Oh well we are supposed to do a show in Manila but..”
“Yeah you should go there… the fan base is tight…”
Those were my last conversations with Mike, the lead vocalist for the Belgium-based hardcore band, A Strength Within, just seconds before they unleashed mayhem inside The Home Club in Singapore last May 21, 2011.
It was from Kris Gironella, a part-time concert photographer & a fellow Filipino that I knew about the show. He led me into an awakening in which I thought would only be a glimpse of what I love to do, shooting concerts. He introduced me to Reconstrux Booking, an organizer that promotes foreign & local bands catering to hardcore, punk, & metal genre. Summing up, it is an “all good, no BS” organization that I have been hoping for when the rest of the promoters I knew sold their souls to mainstream.
When I knew about the venue, I immediately decided what gear to bring, the lightest & smallest arsenal possible. I was planning to bring only 1 prime, the 24mm 2.8D, but I thought it makes the 50mm 1.8D useful just in case the moshpit gets too hostile.
When we, together with a co-shooter buddy of mine Glen, arrived at the venue, the show was already heating up with some of the best local hardcore bands. I set my cam to spot metering, aperture priority, aperture wide open at f2.8, ISO set to auto maxed at 6400, & shutter speed limited at 1/125 min. I tried to pace myself & took some test shots of Out for Blood.

So far so good. The 24mm served me well so I decided to bury the 50mm deep in my pocket.

Then, after a few short chat with the A Strength Within’s vocalist, he stepped into the stage & started unleashing anarchy.
It was pure rhythmic chaos. Fans were rabid elbowing each other. Some leaped from the stage, some fell slamming their heads on the concrete floor. When a fan goes down, the rest came to help. It was brotherhood, it was hardcore culture.
All the time I took shots with my arms extended either upwards or downwards. None of the shots were taken with me looking through the viewfinder. I wasn’t in live mode either. I was shooting blindly while running in & out of the moshpit. I didn’t have the time to think through the rules of composition because any moment could send my gear into retirement. I thought that in this kind of situation, cropping is the more sensible way.
I did a quick check at my shots in between the songs where everyone was a bit behaved & found out that some of my shots were blurred. My focus point was situated at the upper center which dictated the spot metering to target at some of the darkest areas. I shifted to shutter priority at 1/125, center weight metering, & locked my focus at the center & started shooting blindly again. It was my WTH (What the Hell) setting.
 I could not get enough inside the moshpit so I climbed on stage…
While treading through the chaos, I got hit with an elbow that dug deep into my ribs. I felt a stinging pain but I was too engrossed shooting so I kept prancing along.
After the show, me & Glen looked at each other & uttered the words “best show ever”. It was “in your face” pure adrenaline rush that it felt through a time machine to relive the college days. I came to shoot, but ended up partying. It was so addictive that I was hogging the Reconstrux Booking site for more shows. For me, it was a start of something remarkable. I am seeing bright lights ahead… & it rhymes with Napalm Death…
  1. Ed Spadoni says:

    Excellent concert photography Ian. Would love to know more about your technique for getting these shots. Ed

    • Ian Soliva says:

      Hi Ed! Thanks for visiting. First of all, I would like to say that your blog is very informative & inspiring specially for me who is still struggling with photography. I have added it into my Blogroll. As for the techniques used, most of the keepers were shot using center-weighted metering, shutter priority at 1/125, & ISO at auto maxed at 6400. This is not my usual settings for shooting concerts (if you have time to browse through the rest of my blog) but I had to resort to these settings because I was inside the chaotic mosh pit. I shot all of these without looking through the viewfinder & just cropped it later on (except for the inanimate objects). I didnt have time to compose on site because fists were flying everywhere. I hope this helps. Thanks!

      • Ed Spadoni says:

        Thanks for the kind words for our blog, and the info on your concert photos, which are great. I can’t find an email address for you, so could you send me yours? I’d like to contact you directly. You can reach me at 2guysphoto@gmail.com. Thanks Ian.


  2. Ian Soliva says:

    Thanks so much Ed! I sent you an email. Just in case, my email add is ian.soliva@gmail.com

  3. […] >A Strength Within: Me, My Lens, & the Chaos […]

  4. i always love your worm’s eye view shots. i am surprised to realize that even though i’m not a fan of rock music, i was able to appreciate these photos, and i can say that it depicts a message to the audience, which i think is one of the powerful qualities of a good photo. 🙂

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s