Concert Photography: Drunk vs. Sober

Drunk at a show – 2010

There used to be a show almost every week, sometimes on both Fridays and Saturday nights. Ritualistically, I’d meet my friends outside the venue, smoke some pot, go inside and get started on drinks. I’d usually drink rum and coke and do a shot of something every so often. I have always been a lightweight, so I would catch a buzz quickly. The first band would start playing, and most of the time I was right there, drink in one hand and camera in the other. I would go take smoke breaks in between bands, getting more stoned and having more drinks. The photos would get a little sloppier and so would I. But there I was, right there by the stage, boldly snapping picture after picture, laughing with my friends, and the night might possibly end with me having a bit too much to drink and getting the spins. Sometimes I would look at the pictures the next day and the last set would have me wondering what I was even aiming for.

This behavior wasn’t good for me on a personal level, that’s for sure. After looking inward, I realized I drank this way at shows to help me cope with being around a lot of people. I’m an introvert with an aloof demeanor, I only like to talk if I have something to say, my face can look grouchy if I’m not showing any emotion, and I often amuse myself by thinking and observing. The thing I get most from people is they think I am angry, stuck up, or I don’t like them. Knowing that people misinterpret my personality, I felt it was more desirable for others if I offer the tipsy version of myself to compensate with added friendliness. Although everything was a humorous drunken blur, I’m pretty sure I still failed at being social because I wasn’t being my true self. But this is on a personal level.

Let’s discuss the difference between the drunk me and the sober me when it comes to taking pictures at shows.

One of the biggest differences is how I feel when I am taking the pictures. When I was drinking, I would stand my ass up there by the stage, take a few hundred pictures all night long of all the bands and a lot of the people socializing and moshing. My intention was to always capture these experiences as they happened and preserve them in a way that will tell the same story to everyone who looks at the pictures, whether or not they were even there. I think I did well at doing so. But after I sobered up, this changed. I hate to be in the spotlight and always felt I was hiding behind my camera, but being sober, it feels like I’m not hiding at all. If anything, I feel like I am too much in the center of everything. If I’m photographing anyone who I am not familiar with, I just feel like an intrusive jerk, flashing my flash in their faces. This makes me feel so awkward that photographing bands I don’t know in venues I am not familiar with is almost a no. “Let’s let this towns local metal photographer photograph this.”, I’ll say to myself. And then I feel bad if there is no other metal photographer and a good experience went undocumented.

Another thing I notice that drunk me did was I used to try to take pictures of all the bands, even if they weren’t my cup of tea. Even if they sucked. Sorry, but some bands suck, and that’s a fact. But I would be the nice guy and take a shit ton of pictures of all the bands and support the scene. Sober me isn’t so generous. Sober me knows I don’t owe anything to everybody, so I am more inclined to photograph my friends bands or other bands I like. A great stage presence definitely catches my interest. But I no longer feel obligated to provide something to everyone, especially not knowing if my efforts are even appreciated.

Drunk me used to spill drinks all over myself and my camera, moshing around and rubbing all over sweaty bodies. Sober me kind of just stands there, not pushing my way up to the stage, not smashing myself up against people because I don’t like touching strangers and I also don’t mosh anymore. If I can get a clear shot of the band without getting in peoples way, then cool.

If there’s any other differences worth mentioning, I can’t think of them now. That’s probably because it will be a year in March since the last time I went to a show. I am sure when shows start up again, I’ll probably be even more socially awkward then I have ever been. I don’t know how that will affect the way I take pictures. I’ll have to start with my friends who i have been photographing for over ten years and then go from there. But one thing I know is I would rather be socially awkward than spend too much money on drinks, act too friendly, and get hangovers.

Getting out.

Still in the pandemic, but I’ve been getting outdoors a bit recently. Just a little bit. Still no shows. And I still haven’t done any film or developing, but I need to because I miss it.

Here are a few self portraits from recent outings. I’m not terribly used to being in front of the camera, but I might try it more often. Just as a form of expression. Maybe I’ll get a little artsy, we’ll see.

Trying to find motivation

I don’t believe I’ve developed film all year and haven’t been to any shows since March, due to stupid pandemic. I hope to do a photo shoot soon.

I did buy a few props for one I have planned, so I’m eager to do that. I would really love to do more masked shoots.

And I want to do more film! The only thing is my color chemicals are out of date. I need to dispose of them. I have more chemicals for black and white. I’ll have to order color chemicals if I want to do that.

Awesome thrift scores!

I recently went to the Big Blue Barn thrift store last month and found some goodies for only FIVE DOLLARS! I was stoked! I got a Holga camera, a mini developer tank, a film reel to use with the developer tank, and a film canister opener! I have been wanting one of those because there is no can opener at home that opens the film canisters without a struggle. I still have yet to try the canister opener out since I haven’t developed any film recently. I’m really happy about this little haul!

IMG_6774

I have never used a Holga camera before, but I have always wanted to. And I’ve never used 120 film. I looked on YouTube and saw it’s just as easy to develop it at home, like I’ve been doing with the 35mm. But I don’t have a method of scanning 120 film. Murr. Maybe I will have to give in and have it developed at the local camera shop and have prints made. Or let them scan it. I don’t know if I am trying to invest in a better scabber that does 120 film at this time. Hmm…

Update on film developing

…or lack thereof.

I haven’t been developing any film lately. Mostly because I haven’t been going anywhere, which is lame of me. I feel like I have a lack of subjects. I don’t want to take pictures of anything and everything. If it was digital photography, that’s no problem, but the film costs money and development uses chemicals and takes time. And after all the old film I developed from eleven years ago, seeing all the people I photographed that aren’t even a part of my life and images that hold no artistic value, I am reluctant to photograph anything and everything. I’d rather photograph good friends and really neat stuff. Not just taking pictures of anything out of desperation.

There’s another reason I have been slacking off. Last time I wrote an entry, I complained that my images had a weird blue hue. I honestly don’t think that it my fault. I think it is the cheap film scanner I purchased from Amazon! I purchased the Jumbl scanner for about $60 and it did a decent job at scanning a whole bunch of my old negatives. I used to notice most of them did have a blue hue to it, but thought it’s because the negatives were old. I had no idea. It doesn’t auto correct color, but there’s a setting to adjust the color before scanning. I didn’t mess with it much, though, because the screen is small and you can’t really fix everything accurately.

I went to Amazon to see if there was any reviews mentioning the blue hue, and sure enough…it was mentioned!

“Sorry to say, but the item is junk!!! I tried the product thru 1,000 slides and they were all BAD! They all turned out BLUE! I tried all software provided to adjust color, but just didn’t work. I returned it to Amazon who docked me $30 for S/H and Restock Fees. Never again.
I just bought an Epson V600 FlatBed Scanner (Not from Amazon) to do the job. Now I get to start all over again. I have a total of about 8,000 35 mm Slides to do.”

Well there’s that, plus I am sure a better quality scanner can produce better quality scans! So this cheap scanner isn’t showing the full potential of the quality. 😦 I do have an old scanner but I don’t have the adapter to scan negatives. It’s a good scanner for prints, though. So I really want to know what my film photography would look like scanned on a better scanner.

Developing Color Film

If you read my last post, you will have read that I decided to develop film at home and purchased chemicals to develop black & white, although I did use it to develop C41 film, which is color. But I wanted to try my hand at developing color! None of the (two) local photography shops had a color kit, so I ordered one from Freestyle Photo

I was a bit intimidated because I’ve read developing C41 is a bit more detailed than developing black and white, mostly because the temperature needs to be just so. I was also nervous about mixing the chemicals, although it ended up being easier than I thought!  I messed up when I was mixing the developer, I believe I was supposed to mix it using hot water, but I used cold instead. I was thrown off at the dark, blood-red color of the blix chemicals. I couldn’t wait to try and develop a roll of film, so I popped one into my plastic Vivitar LC 600 camera. The film speed was 200 and it was getting later in the day, so I wasn’t sure I’d have enough light with the camera I was using.

Here are some of the images from that roll. They are very BLUE! And also very dark. I felt a little discouraged with developing color film when I saw this, but then I remembered the roll of film I used was a roll that I found in a used camera bag I purchased at a thrift store! Not only could it have been expired, but who knows what it may have encountered. It could have been left in the sun or heat and that would have done some damage. I did, however, get some compliments when I posted these images on my Instagram. I guess the flawed effect does look kind of neat and mysterious.

I took those images a couple weeks ago and had been wanting to give it another try with a fresh roll of film, just to see if I got the same result or if it would turn out better. So yesterday I grabbed my tripod and went in the back yard for some experimentation. This time I used my Canon EOS 10s so I could adjust the lighting. I developed the film shortly after, trying to be sure everything was at the right temperature.

Click images to see full size.

I am quite pleased with the results! They’re not too dark because I used my Canon, but there is still a slight blue hue. I could easily Photoshop the images to correct that, or even edit them on my phone. But let’s not forget the days when Photoshop wasn’t available and photographers had to learn to get it right when they developed the film. I want to learn how to get it right, so I don’t mind posting less than perfect photos because I want to document progress.

Here is one of the images above edited on my iPhone in two different ways:

I think they look much better this way, but I want to get it right during developing. That will mean more practice!