Serena Ryder at the Queen Elizabeth Theatre

One of the nice things about having a blog is that it allows us to show more than a single photo of an event. In years past, although we have often had major difficulties picking a final photo for the home page due to a number of ourstanding candidates, now we can show out-takes and lesser shots that, while not our top picks, still help to convey the atmosphere of the live performance.

For Serena we had several photos we liked. In concert, the energy of her performance really took me off guard. Her more radio-friendly songs don't give a hint of what a spunky performer she really is. Particualrly the head tosses, where she would get lost in her music, hair flying around her face like a mass of fine ribbons.

I liked these shots in particular, but owing to the very low light levels (the wide spread use of LED lights at concerts is really becoming a photographer's nightmare due to their generally lower light output) it was very difficult to get a focus lock on several of these moments. I finally gave up on auto focus altogether and switched into manual for the final two songs of the three I was allowed to shoot.

Ditto the 1.4 teleconverter, which I had on the 50-200mm 2.8 for most of the first song reasoning, as the photographers position was off to the side and back from the stage, that I might need the extra reach. I had never photographed in this hall before last night so I wasn't sure what to expect or which focal lengths would be necessary. But very soon it became apparent that the penalty paid in the decreased max. aperture with the teleconverter wasn't worth the extra reach.

A dramatic overhead light strobes on the band's guitarist during one song

I took it off and then started scrolling through the ISO's trying to find something that would give me an action-stopping exposure solution. Hit the maximum of 3200 ISO on the E3 and frankly I could have used the Nikon D3's 12000 or 24000 ISO. This was one really dim-lit concert!

Speaking of the hall, located on the grounds of Exhibition Place beside BMO Field, the Queen Elizabeth Theatre is an impressive facility. Sightlines look to be excellent as it is steeply raked, and the sound was quite good. Full capacity is just over 1200 people, which seems to be the magic number for a facility that has enough seats to attract major acts, but small enough that there is a sense of intimacy with the performer. And there is a bar in the lobby so you can slip out for a cold one between acts!

Also, parking, the bane of most Toronto venues, is no problem with acres of it available. There are good mass transit connections to the theatre as well, either by streetcar along the Harbourfront line, by bus to the Dufferin Gates, or by GO Train from the Exhibition Station.

The only criticism I would have, and it's a minor one, is the theatre doesn't seem to offer hard points back from the stage in front and to the sides to allow for better frontal lighting. The stage lighting was a little 'overhead' which is not always the most complimentary. This was a problem at the old Sony Centre as well. But it could just be an issue with this particular performer's lighting. Certainly focusing spots at the back, and there is plenty of room for them, would solve this. And this is mostly a photographer's issue as I'm sure the crowd didn't notice it at all.

Shot with the Olympus E3 w/ 50-200mm 2.8 (plus 1.4 teleconverter for some) @ 3200 ISO

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