Jazz at Strays

I sometimes think photographers can be divided into two groups – those who like taking people shots and those who don’t.  I tend to fall into the latter category, although from time to time I do enjoy a bit of street photography, and I have been known to do the occasional portrait.  Last Sunday we went with some friends to an afternoon of live jazz at what is probably the best cafe in Newark – Strays. I’m not a huge jazz fan, but this was the kind of jazz I like – nothing too heavy,  a trio of two guitars and a drummer, with a female vocalist for some of the numbers.

Jazz at Strays, Newark on TrentThis girl had the most amazing voice – mature and sophisticated, and quite different from what her youthful prettiness would lead you to expect

One reason that I don’t do much people photography is that, if I’m going to indulge at all, I much prefer candid shots and I’m aware that not everyone likes being photographed when they’re not aware of it, so I feel I’m being a bit intrusive.  When it’s musicians, however, I don’t feel bad about it as being photographed goes with the territory.  I was sitting there wishing I’d brought a camera with me when I suddenly realised that I had – my little compact Fuji was lurking in the bottom of my handbag.  I don’t enjoy using this camera at all, not because there’s anything wrong with it per se, but because the quality is so much lower than a DSLR, it doesn’t shoot in RAW, and it doesn’t have a viewfinder.  It also has more shutter delay than I’m used to, which can be a bit frustrating.  But as they say, the best camera is the one you have with you, so I decided to see what I could do with it.

There’s something quite freeing about making do with what you’ve got, and trying something that you wouldn’t normally do, and once I got started I had a very good time indeed.  The impulse to start photographing in the first place came from one of the waitresses who was competently wielding a Nikon DSLR – it’s funny how just watching someone else take pictures can get you fired up yourself.

Jazz at Stray's, Newark on TrentYou can see how slow my shutter speeds were by the blurring of the guitarist’s fingers as he played

I’m not displeased with the results.  They have a fair bit of noise, thus losing much of the fine detail and reducing the potential for sharpening, and I couldn’t get the shallow depth of field I like to use, but that’s all part of the challenge.  I used the black and white shooting mode, largely because the singer was wearing the brightest orange jumper I’ve ever seen and it would have dominated a colour shot.  Everything’s a bit soft, but in the circumstances it was all that was achievable.

The performer I only got one usable shot of was the drummer, despite spending most of my time focussing on him.  He had an amazingly mobile face, with lots of great expressions, and was obviously thoroughly enjoying himself.  But because he moved his head and face a lot, and the camera has its limits, every shot I took bar one shows him with blurred features.  You can’t win ’em all.

Jazz at Strays, Newark on TrentThe only usable shot I got of this musician – he had such great facial expressions but slow shutter speeds made it impossible to capture them

Jazz at Strays, Newark on TrentThis chap’s expression didn’t change at all, but he was enjoying himself – honest!

The photographer being photographedOne time you definitely won’t be noticed taking photos is when the person in question is doing some photography themselves. 

ConversationGeoff and Paul in conversation during a break

 After I’d exhausted the possibilities of people photography, I then reverted back to type and took these two shots!

Elegant legs under a tableThis very elegant lady was the wife of the drummer in the band.

Reflection, Strays Cafe, Newark on TrentAnd I never could resist an interesting reflection, although this one was at the absolute limits of my zoom, and is a mite soft because of it