I was going to be hoofing all over Rupp Arena. I was going to be reporting and shooting. I didn’t want to bother with hauling a heavy camera bag around. So I wanted two lenses. The first was easy, the 80-200, the bread and butter lens of a concert photographer — the one that gets the viewer up close and personal with the star. The second, in my bag, is a tossup: wide zoom 17-35 or normal zoom 24-70? The normal zoom is safe, as it’ll get you semi-wide and semi-closeup in one hunk of glass. But if you can get solid, wide concert shots, as concert photography guru Todd Owyoung preaches, they’re just about the coolest things you can get because they are so up close and immediate.
(Note: This repeated dilemma is why at some point I want to add a 17-55 to my bag, to cover the wide-to-normal bases.)
So, I decided to roll with the 17-35, and almost immediately regretted it. The security guard on one side of the stage limited me to to corner of the stage, rarely the spot for great wide shots, and what I was framing up zoomed to 35 felt really wide and short on character.
So, I was surprised when I got home, edited down the evening for an online gallery, and my choices swung about 70-30 in favor of the wide lens.
Part of it was my impatience. My frustration kicked in after snapping a few early acts, which usually keep to the center of the stage more, whether it’s because they aren’t used to having such a big playground as an arena stage or other acts’ gear is squeezing them in.
Then there was the camera back factor. The closeups often look more compelling on the camera LCD than the wide shots, which sort of need the computer presentation.
Whatever the reason, I was happy with the shot at redemption. After initial misgivings, the choice of the wider lens proved wise. It allowed me to get some really satisfying shots, particularly of Tobymac and his Diverse City band and when Red’s Michael Barnes decided to get really close.