Heading to the Gasparilla Music Festival in Tampa

Flaming Lips frontman Wayne Coyne at the Dour Festival in Belgium / Photo by flickr user Kmeron

Flaming Lips frontman Wayne Coyne at the Dour Festival in Belgium / Photo by flickr user Kmeron

I’ve photographed bands in clubs before. I’ve taken pictures of musicians on stage. But this weekend’s Gasparilla Music Festival in Tampa will be the first time I’ve had access to the photography pit. I’m stoked.

That’s one of the great things about still having a lot to learn as a photographer, there’s still the thrill of so many “firsts” to experience.

The two headliners are the Flaming Lips and Trombone Shorty. I’ve never seen the Lips but I’ve caught Trombone Shorty three times and he puts on an amazing show. However, I’ll be packing up and heading to the airport just about the time Trombone Shorty, aka Troy Andrews, is getting ready to take the stage Sunday afternoon.

It doesn’t really matter to me, however, whether I’m shooting pictures of Trombone Shorty or the Soul Rebels, I’m there to work on my skills and, hopefully, make a couple pictures that help improve my portfolio.

I’ve been reading a lot of guides to concert shooting, so I’ve got a pretty good idea of what to expect in the pit and what the proper etiquette is for photographers. The thing about these situations is you can read all the guides and tutorials you want, there’s still nothing that replaces actually getting out there and doing it.

Equipment wise, I’ll be slinging my Olympus mirrorless cameras. It will be interesting to see if there are any other photographers using mirrorless cameras. I’m expecting most professionals in the pit will have full-frame Nikon and Canon DSLRS. Let’s face it, as much as I champion the rise of mirrorless cameras, their small sensors can’t compete when it comes to the low-light, high ISO performance of the Nikon D4 or Canon 5D Mark III. So it will be interesting to put my Olympus E-M1 to the test when The Flaming Lips take the main stage at about 9 p.m. Saturday night.

Here’s what I’ll be walking around with for the weekend:

Olympus OM-D E-M1
Olympus OM-D E-M5
Olympus 35-100mm f/2.0
Olympus 12-40mm f/2.8
Voigtlander 25mm f/0.95

That’s about 7.5 pounds I’ll have to carry around for about 12 hours on Saturday. Now compare that to the equivalent Nikon gear — say a D4 and D610 camera bodies with the Nikon 70-200mm f/2.8 and 24-70mm f/2.8 lenses and the Zeiss 50mm f/2. The Nikon kit nearly tips the scales at 11 pounds or about 3.5 pounds heavier than my Olympus Micro Four Thirds gear.

That might not sound like a lot, but over the course of a long day in the Florida sun, I’m sure some photographers will be more than willing trade a couple pounds for a little less ISO performance.

Be sure to hit up the blog next week to see how the E-M1 fared in low light.

Image of Wayne Coyne by flickr user Kmeron is used here under a Creative Commons license.

Joe Newman

I'm Joe Newman, multi-media story teller, non-profit do-gooder, international street photographer, serious poker player, intrepid traveler. Bourbon drinker.

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