05-Jul-2012

Dukes of September @ SB Bowl

Fagen and friends latest musical rendition is now a trio of exceptional artists. But really, there's more to it than that.

Donald Fagen is now touring with long-time collaborator, Michael McDonald, who sings backup on many top-hit Steely Dan songs. The Dukes of September Rhythm Revue adds Boz Scaggs to that dynamic duo, rounding out the bill for some great '70's style smooth jazz. Accompanying the trio are several Steely Dan collaborators, making a full-stage of great musicians (ten total artists).

I had to shoot from behind the soundboard, front-of-house (FOH), as it's called. I used a 400mm/2.8L lens with my newly acquired 2x Extender III teleconverter, which doubles the focal length of the lens for a penalty of a bit of sharpness and two stops of light. Add this to my 1D Mark IV body, which has a 1.3x crop factor, and I was achieving about 1040mm of reach with f/5.6. I shot plenty of shots at f/8, however, to minimize the loss of sharpness with the teleconverter.

The show lighting was not great. This is early July, where the sun is still shining at 7pm, so it's still daylight during the first three songs, which is when I get to shoot. Add to that the fact that Fagen and McDonald sat at their keyboards during those songs, and their mic stands were blocking their faces most of the time. From the soundboard area, there's only a few feet to change position, giving very little dynamics to the objects. When you're up close, a few inches can change things, but from 300 feet, moving my location several feet does nothing.

Still, I was pretty happy with what I was able to accomplish. That is until a few songs after I was done shooting, and the curtain opened up to a beautifully lit stage, which I was not permitted to capture. Even camera phones were being heavily regulated. Oh, well, at least I got to see the show.

Check out the gallery at gallery.sbbowl.com.

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A. Arthur Fisher

Mr. Fisher is a photographer and graphic designer who lives in Santa Barbara, California. He has run his comapny, In Color since 1989.