Kaiser Chiefs

I’ll get to the Kaiser Chief at some point throughout this post. Scroll down for a double treat with loads of photos on 35mm B&W film, back from 2005, and colour one from 2013.
Happy Easter Monday everyone, or April’s fool day you choose it is the same this year!

I have been thinking about this since the winner of 2013 World Press Photo have been announced. I was working at some photos I shoot in Kashmir that I had post-edited two years ago and now do not fit my taste.
I brought the cursor back to the original levels and looked more balanced.

I am not a radical of un-touching raw files. I don’t believe photography represent the “real” it never did since the day Daguerre photographed a street that looks desert apart from what it is supposed to be a shoe-shiner. Road wasn’t desert, it is the long exposure needed that did not allowed the people walking on the pavements to be recorded.

I don’t think a camera sensor is faithful to reality and I am for using retouching software to the point it helps on having our picture as we want it. Indeed the perfect negative (or raw file) still is a noble concept, but if we can get our shots to be what we intended It is then up to our ethic and taste to stop and decide if it is too much or not.

Going back to my post-editing, revisiting my photographs I moved the saturation down to normal. Then down again till the RGB channels were silenced and the image became a plain monochromatic, familiar, old black and white.

Then I asked myself a question.
Black and white is nothing else then one extreme of photo manipulation. Black and white is fictional, it is not real, it is photography on class A drugs. Black and white is not what we see in the viewfinder is not what we have in front of us either. More, none of us has ever seen the world in black and white.

Still, no jury would ever think to reject an entry to a photo contest because the image is black and white. Black and white is tolerated, even appreciated, surely permitted. Leica has just launched a digital body which sensor records only B&W images. It’s like putting in your camera the old Tri-x film film.

In the meanwhile the entire web has been discussing, animated, whether the image winning the WPP, which is clearly desaturated from its original tones but not to the point of monochrome, was tolerable. The argument being, it is not real, it is an artefact to emphasize and exploit the human natural reaction to pain making it more similar to Hollywood posters than the Gaza reality.

This Kaiser Chiefs gig happened on Saint David which in Wales, and elsewhere because of the osmosis of Welsh people throughout UK, translates into a big night out with ‘permission’ to drink more than usual. Many people arrived to the Corn Exchange enjoying Kaiser Chiefs in the company of several pints.

Years ago I read that if alcohol was discovered today it would be sent to top the list of Class A drugs, banned worldwide and its commerce outlawed. As that of cocaine, crack and heroine. Alcohol is on sale, though, cheap too. it is a permitted class A drug and this is only because it’s known by 5 millenniums or so and became part of the cultural background of humanity. It has rooted so deeply that cannot be eradicated.

B&W photography it is not yet 2 centuries old but digital manipulation software are not more than 2 decades. It makes a meaningful comparison.
We accept B&W because in 1880 there was no option but taking a B&W image. Colour was non-existent. We accepted it the same way we smile at a Roman mosaic depicting Bacchus drunk in a Roman Villa.

It’s archetypical. B&W photos (or alcohol) are tolerated more than manipulated images (or heroine) only because back in time these were only options. We got to accept, digest, them.
When some new stuff emerges we are scared and natural reaction to fear is rejection. We are not ready, we don’t have the enzymes to digest and we think it may be dangerous for our health.

I am not a fan of Kaiser Chiefs but, with or without alcohol, they know how to put a concert on. Live is one of the most enjoyable band to photograph. They have fun and their fans have too. They always wanted to take the rock’n’roll side of bands as The Who and revamp those feelings bringing mod culture into a new millennium.

Rickie Wilson secreat dream is to be reborn Roger Daltrey. He studied any stage attitude of The Who singer.
I have followed Kaiser Chiefs throughout their career without much pathos. It’s not my band but undeniably songs as I predict a Riot or Ruby or Oh My God that they wrote in 4 or so albums are perfect pop-songs.

These never seen before black and white photos of Kaiser Chiefs here were shot on film in 2005 when the band was first on the line-up of the most successful of NME Award tour and The Killers still allowed photographers to shoot their shows.
I haven’t scanned the negatives for a long while, they opened the NME tour night in this same Cambridge Corn Exchange. They were followed by the likes of Bloc Party, Futurheads and The Killers.

The colour photos, are for a bout a month ago. March 2013. There are 8 years in the between, the same amount of energy, a bit less jumps to be fair, but much more self-confidence and professionalism.
Maybe many of those kids enjoying I Predict a Riot for the first time came back tonight. The audience is older than I’d expected, less hair, more beer belly and rings on left hands.
Maybe a teenage babysitter is at home listening to Kaiser Chiefs CDs.

Kaiser Chiefs are not going to be The Who, but they’re going to be remembered for being a fun show to watch. If it were the nineties, a Greatest hits CD would sell a lot now. These days all you can get is a greatest hits concert. Which you should treat yourself with if you like the happy side of British pop.

Follow them around and check when it’ll going to be next to your home.
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Photo tip

restrictions. Restrictions. RESTRICTIONS!
Three songs, that is fine, actually it is not fine at all, the concert got much better towards the end but this is tolerated by concert photographers as alcohol and B&W are by modern society.

I shot hundreds of shows at the Corn Exchange and its pit is the first I entered with a proper photopass. It was Black Rebel Motorcycle Club concert almost 10 years ago.
The pit is large, the stage is pretty high, lights are good. One problem is the side walls of original red bricks on the sides of the stage that can make a confusing background.

Overall I like shooting here and photographers are allowed to stay for the show, if they want to.
Actually, it is even better. There is a nice mezzanine for VIP (!?), accessible with a photopass, where to sit and enjoy the show out of the crowd after those three songs.

This is also a nice spot to take photos from the back of the venue. With a 70-200mm lens the stage is framed, the crowd is a dark silouhette. Some experience with gig photography allows to snap the ‘decisive moment’ and experience with a camera would tell the setting for a perfect exposure.

What’s the problem? You tell me. The problem is that some security people that perhaps are paid to look at me, instead of monitoring the venue security, come up as soon as I snap some photos. They arrive with the clear body language, red in face in anger, shocked and willing to exercise a useless power, telling me what? To stop shooting. Three songs are over you are not allowed to take pictures.

Every other fan is doing it, and they don’t care. The excuse is that fans don’t use professional camera, the reality is that it is impossible to stop everyone while is much easier to stop me.

So why letting a band be represented by unprofessional photos taken by non photographers instead of being represented by good images that would reflect better a show.
Oh, You tell me! One of the most difficult skills of concert photography is not about the right camera settings, but about the right moment. To understand when the photo is there, half a second before it happens in order to catch it….”Well, this is not allowed. If you keep taking pictures you will have to leave the venue.”

Nonsense. I said it many times. I will keep saying it. It is utter nonsense.
Against photography, against bands, against music, against venue and even against the security of the fans.

~ by Valerio on April 1, 2013.

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