Chestnuts Toasted

I was lucky enough to be invited back to shoot the Dowsing Sound Collective‘s Christmas gig for a second year. Last year’s aptly named Cocktail proved to be a festive riot, belting out a mix of Christmas classics, cleverly arranged popular anthems and carols with full audience participation. A tough act to follow…

But this year did not let me, nor a sold-out Cambridge Corn Exchange down. Over 100 voices accompanied by their rambunctious band, strings, brass, a steel drum, an eigenharp, penny whistles and even bagpipes!

Let’s talk technical

From a photography aspect, this was a challenging shoot. I’m grateful to the Dowsing coordinators for allowing me early access to the venue, allowing me to hone most of my settings before-hand. The lighting meant that I would primarily be sticking to my Nikon 50mm Prime, f/1.8, which although meant there was a lot of leg-work to be done, I could guarantee bright, crisp shots and minimise noise. Most of the below images were shot with an ISO of 400 and shutter speed of 1/250. For the wider group shots, I used my Sigma 10-20mm f/4-5.6, which, although slower, I was about to wait until the stage was fully lit and get shots at about 1/140 and ISO 800. Some noise reduction in post was required in both cases.

The difficulty came with the lighting (big surprise, I know) against the predominantly black background. In 2013, the backdrop was a wash of bright yellows and pinks, making for a less of a disparate histogram. This year, black and white were the theme, which made balancing the hot spots and under-lit shadows really difficult, but I think I managed it, just…


Can’t get enough?

Check out this video. It was put together by talented cinematographer Paul Cook, with the sound edited by Recording Engineer Matty Moon. It’s beautiful. Perhaps I’m a little biassed, because the Icelandic anthem that is Hoppipolla remains one of my all time favourite tracks, but also perhaps because Dowsing, Paul and Matt captured it so perfectly. I’m totally in love with it.

See if you can spot me narrowly avoiding a runaway conga (03:47) 😀