August 16, 2013

John Hiatt at the Hampton Beach Casino

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Here is a shot from Wednesday night’s John Hiatt concert at the Hampton Beach Casino Ballroom. Hiatt was in great form with The Combo, his band on this tour. The set list spanned Hiatt’s career ranging from the Riding with the King (released in the 70’s and covered a few years ago by Eric Clapton and BB King) through his latest album, Mystic Pinball. In case you can’t tell, I’m a big fan.

Not surprisingly, I brought my camera to the concert — my small, compact Olympus OMD, not my big, attention grabbing Nikon D700. It was a deliberate decision. First and foremost, even though I didn’t see a written “no cameras” policy on the ticket, I suspected that a big pro-looking DSLR would attract too much attention at the door. Second, the OMD is just easier to carry. Third, it is very quiet.

The OMD turned out to be a good choice.

My wife and I showed up at the door, present our tickets to the young security screener and were allowed to enter. Then the security guy spotted the camera draped around my neck and stopped me. Two conversations then ensued. One in reality, the other in my head.

Security guy: Excuse me, does that camera’s lens come off?
Me (in my head): It does come off. But I only brought this one wide angle lens. Why would I want to take it off? But I think I’ll lie to you …
Me (in reality)
: No. It does not come off. Take a look (holding the camera out a little bit, for a visual inspection).

Security guy: Ok. Does the lens move in and out? You know, zoom?
Me (in my head): What difference does it make? The Camera+ App on my iPhone has a 6x digital zoom, and you don’t even know I have it.
Me (in reality): No. It is fixed focal. Wide angle.

Security guy: Ok. Enjoy the show
Me: Thank you.

The exchange proved my first assumption to be true. Big DSLRs are perceived as “pro” cameras and these “pro” cameras are discouraged at some events. But it made me wonder a bit. Is there a fear that the bigger and more “professional” the camera looks, the better the images will be, therefore the greater the chance someone will make an unauthorized buck? I suspect that’s the case. However, the Casino seems to be in the dark ages on this. This image was taken with a small, “unprofessional” camera that didn’t even have a zoom lens!

Overall, with the advances in digital photo technology I’ve noticed a marked loosening of “no camera” policies at sporting and concert venues. And I do remember true NO CAMERA policies! They evolved into “no cameras with interchangeable lenses” policies.

In the past few years I’ve brought my D700 to Fenway Park and Boston Garden on many occasions. As a spectator, I am sensitive to security concerns, so I always choose one lens for the body and carry no bag (besides women’s purses, I believe bags are prohibited in may venues, anyway). I guess I could carry a lens in a jacket pocket, but again, I’m going as a spectator and a fan, so the focus is usually on the game, or in this case, the concert.

So about that.

I loved the show. And I loved shooting the show with a smaller, more unobtrusive camera. I got no second looks as I walked up to the stage to get this shot.

I’d love to hear what your experience has been in shooting concerts as a spectator!


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