Hanoi’s blue notes

Last week I was shooting an assignment on the jazz scene in Hanoi. I’m not sure if Hanoi’s reputation for having an actual jazz “scene” is warranted, but if there is a scene, its focal point has always been – and continues to be – Minh’s Jazz Club, in the heart of the old quarter. Quyen Van Minh’s bar is on most tourists’ “must-see” lists of Hanoi, and even though I haven’t been there in years, I have to admit it was great fun to drop in and listen to Minh and his son Quyen Thien Dac blow out the bebop and swing standards. In a town full of horrible Asian pop and hip-hop, a night of jazz classics was really appreciated.

A few hundred metres away, on the banks of Hoan Kiem Lake, IBox hosts regular jazz nights, with a pretty good quartet (including an actual piano, not a casio keyboard!) playing cool tunes in a great setting.

Making pictures in dark bars and clubs is quite demanding. If there’s a proper stage with stage lights, then no problem. But this is Hanoi, and there was no such luxury. The client didn’t want to see much motion, so long exposures were out. But they also didn’t want to see much noise, so very high ISOs were out. And they wanted a natural feel to the lighting, so strobes/flash was out. Most of the assignment was shot using fast prime lenses at f1.2 and f1.4, and even then I often had to use a tripod to steady things, shooting at 1/4 second or less. There was no way to shoot this at 2.8 or slower. Fast prime lenses are expensive, but oh so worth it.

The first shot is the bar at IBox. I’m a sucker for hot pink neon lights. The second is an outtake using not-quite-enough off-camera flash that doesn’t look quite enough like an actual stage light as I had intended, at Minh’s. Personally I don’t mind the noise, it seems suitable for a dingy jazz bar.

Advertisements

~ by Julian Abram Wainwright on September 30, 2008.

3 Responses to “Hanoi’s blue notes”

  1. […] Hanoi’s blue notesLast week I was shooting an assignment on the jazz scene in Hanoi. I’m not sure if Hanoi’s reputation for having an actual jazz “scene” is warranted, but if there is a scene, its focal point has always been – and continues to be … […]

  2. […] Hanoi’s blue notesLast week I was shooting an assignment on the jazz scene in Hanoi. I’m not sure if Hanoi’s reputation for having an actual jazz “scene” is warranted, but if there is a scene, its focal point has always been – and continues to be … […]

  3. […] Hanoi’s blue notesLast week I was shooting an assignment on the jazz scene in Hanoi. I’m not sure if Hanoi’s reputation for having an actual jazz “scene” is warranted, but if there is a scene, its focal point has always been – and continues to be … […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

 
%d bloggers like this: