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Erik The Drummer

By miketaylor1965
This is an action portrait of Erik the drummer. I wanted to show the excitement of a drummer in action. Using two small flashes in stroboscopic mode, I had them firing multiple times during the exposure.
What do you think of the effect, and what would you have done differently in order to express the energy to the viewer?

Tags: Colour Food Canada Kitchen Delicious Ingredients Sustenance Cooking Portraits and people 2015 edibles


dudler Plus
17 1.3k 1698 England
12 Oct 2019 5:00PM
Welcome to the Critique Gallery, Mike.

I really like the idea, and the execution. There's a good deal of chance involved in a hsot like this - I imagine you shot several frames, at least.

Framing can be uncertain, so it's a good idea to include a bit of space all round - and then, it's sensible to crop out extraneous space.

My mod crops square, and quite a bit tighter - beyond the drumsticks, nothing matters.

I also raised contrast with Levels - the initial exposure seems a bit low, and the image needs, I think, a bit of brightness to really show Erik off. It may not be true to the light levels at the back of the band onstage, but you need to show him off.

What do you reckon?
mrswoolybill Plus
13 2.3k 2266 United Kingdom
12 Oct 2019 5:52PM
Hi Mike, welcome to ePHOTOzine, I see that you have joined us recently. And welcome to the Critique Gallery!

Photographing musicians is something very dear to my heart, and I love drummers precisely because of that energy. But I have never tried this approach.

It's interesting, I'm not sure that it's completely successful - the result is just a bit too fussy, there's too much going on for the viewer to 'read' the action. There needs to be a point of stillness, precision, to anchor the energy and hold it down. Ideally that's the face.... Plus - somehow for me the elaborate set-up reduces the sense of spontaneity.

How many times did the flashes fire, I wonder? And did you try with fewer ?

An approach that I would suggest you could try is to use a slow exposure with flash set to rear curtain sync. So you get a trail of motion blur, with the flash freezing detail in the final moment as the exposure ends. I haven't tried it with musicians but have used it for dancers. Here it would give fluidity to the movement, avoid the impression of too many disembodied hands, and also give precision in the face.

That's just some random thoughts. I really would be interested to see what else you have from the session.
dark_lord Plus
16 2.6k 695 England
12 Oct 2019 10:01PM
Welcome from me too Mike.
Thanks for explaining the technique you used and what you wanted, that helps us in giving you appropriate and relevant suggestions.

My initial thoughts were this is a bit low in contrast and on the dark/muddy side, and visually confusing. As John says, yu need to show him off.
Full marks for trying your set up, though keeping things simple here would hzve given a stronger image.

John's mod addresses my brightness concerns.I'd have gone for a Curves adjustment to much thw same end.

Before I read Moira's comment I was thinking one flash with a long exposure, so you would have one clear view of the drummer and movement to show the energy from using a longer shiutter speed. How long exactly depends on the amount of movement of the drummer and his size in the frame, so there's some experimentation to be had. That said, your current choice looks ok.

Something else you could try is have your flash set to multiple flashes, or stroboscopic mode, so you get a multitude of arms and drumsticks with hopefully a reasonably defined person. Try a 10 Hz setting for starters so you'd get 10 flashes during your 1 s expposure. It'd need the guy to have a relatively still body but plenty of arm movement so it'd require close copperation between the two of you, as well as persevernce., Shoot, review and adjust as you feel necessary.

If you have any similar images you can upload one or two as modifications here, just so we get an idea of what you got from the session.


12 Oct 2019 10:33PM
Hi Mike... great idea!
I think it might look good with some movement in the sticks, after all it is actually the sticks that are doing most of the thrashing around!!
I've just added a bit of 'Radial Blur' on a duplicate Background Layer using a filter in Photoshop Elements, then used a Layer Mask to remove the effect from around the edges of the frame, concentrating the effect nearer the middle.

Moira has made a very good point about needing a point of stillness, preferably the face. That seems impossible here, and the best I could do was try to simplify the multiplicity of faces by using the healing brush to make his woolly hat cover some of the cranial confusion.

What do you think?

chase Plus
15 1.8k 442 England
13 Oct 2019 8:48AM
Hi Mike and welcome.
A good idea in what looks like difficult circumstances, he is moving very quickly.
I would be with Moira here, just needs a point of stillness, the face would be the ideal point.
I like the colours but seems a tad dark on my screen and I do like the angle you have taken this from.
mrswoolybill Plus
13 2.3k 2266 United Kingdom
13 Oct 2019 11:24AM
Just as a couple of further thoughts, if the drummer is ready to cooperate again for the same exercise, I would suggest asking him to try to keep his head still and to concentrate on the cymbals, rather than reaching forward to the snare drum. Those extra hands on the right, at a different angle to everything else, rather spoil the flow.

I may try a modification...
mrswoolybill Plus
13 2.3k 2266 United Kingdom
13 Oct 2019 11:36AM
Two modifications added. A square crop, similar to John's - because square contains the dynamic diagonals. I got rid of the pair of hands that annoyed me, and tried to boost the spectacles, tone down the lower face(s).

Then contrasty b&w with cyanotype toning.
pablophotographer 9 1.7k 384
14 Oct 2019 12:09AM
Hi Mike.
I did a mod with the mobile cropping the extra face.
Making music entakls moving and depending on the piece or the musician you will find motion an integral part of producing the sound. Unless you shoot a sat pianist who does not push the grand piano! Thankfully here the constant part of the instrument is the drum, let havoc happen all around it. We are rocking! Unfortunately I could not fit it in but you know what to use next time as your anchor point, as I guess the drummer will most likely move his head with the flow of the part he plays abd the music.

I added colour from red to violet, the hot first strike to the cool end.

You shot a powerful image, bravo

dudler Plus
17 1.3k 1698 England
14 Oct 2019 9:43AM
Pablo's mod works rather well, I think - goign in close has destroyed sharpness, but the pictures isn't about that. The result has a real feel of a live concert, with flashing lights and loud music...
banehawi Plus
16 2.3k 4163 Canada
14 Oct 2019 1:26PM
A successful experiment Mike.

I removed the left hand and drumstick to make a different image, cropped tighter and increased contrast as above,


mrswoolybill Plus
13 2.3k 2266 United Kingdom
19 Oct 2019 7:48AM
As an afterthought, this upload has appeared today. It makes an interesting comparison - which approach conveys energy and excitement better? The carefully planned technical set-up or the spontaneous but perfectly composed response to the subject?

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