Photoessay: Mokhtar Samba and the African Jazz Project

_Q116_L1060499 copy

I have a dirty little secret. I like to shoot jazz concerts at small venues. Wednesdays, Thursdays and by special appointment. It’s something I did perhaps ten years ago, shortly after starting photography seriously; I’ve done it on and off a few times since when time and opportunity permits. The music came first; I’m very much tone deaf but can still appreciate it. The camera came along after being invited to shoot by some of the venue owners, and stayed since. Today’s set is from Mokhtar Samba and the African Jazz Project at No Black Tie in Kuala Lumpur from a couple of months back. You may recognise some of the images from the photographing concerts article. Enjoy! MT

This series was shot with a Nikon D5500, Zeiss 1.4/55 Otus and Leica Q, and post processed with the Monochrome Masterclass workflow. You can also look over my shoulder at the underlying postprocessing in the Weekly Photoshop Workflow series.

[Read more…]

FD Photoessay: A little casual jazz

_8047767 copy

Sometimes, you can’t help but feel that the mood of a particular event or evening fits a particular camera; some time back I was invited out to a casual evening jazz concert/ jam session. There is something about black and white film and jazz; I don’t know what it is exactly, but I think the two compliment each other perfectly. Perhaps it’s the way the smooth richness of the brass instruments is the auditory compliment to the rich 3/4 tones of film*; or perhaps it’s because the whole affair invokes another, earlier, era. That said, the relatively low light was challenging due to the inherent sensitivity limitations of film, traded off against image quality – the tonal look I prefer for film requires mid tones, which tend to be pretty thin with faster emulsions. Not to mention the challenge of focusing under such low light – fortunately, I had the F2 Titan, whose focusing screen is really quite excellent – snappy, and easy to discriminate the focus transition even with very fast lenses. I hadn’t used that camera in so long, I’d forgotten how transparent a photographic experience it was; your view of the world is reduced to what’s inside the large finder, and your fingers are only the three controls – focus, aperture and shutter, with a thumb cocked around the winding lever to help secure the right-sized body, and nothing more. It’s what the Df should have been.

*A discourse on the relationship and similarities between photography and music is something I’ve been meaning to write for some time, but I’m still trying to learn enough about music to have enough descriptive language to adequately convey the concepts. Increasingly I’m starting to feel that the written/ spoken language really is inadequate for the description and explanation of visual ideas; perhaps that too is another article for another time.

[Read more…]