Panorama Finals - Trinidad Carnival 2017
After covering the Junior Parade of Bands in the morning it was time for a quick rest before the Panorama Finals that night. Panorama is the steel band competition held during Carnival each year, drawing musicians from around the world. The steel drum, or pan, is the national instrument of Trinidad and Tobago and is said to be the only musical instrument invented in the 20th century. I shot a few bands from the large band finals. These bands consist of between 95 and 120 musicians, not including the pan stand pushers, performers and other support personnel. Each band has 8 minutes to get their pan stands on stage after the previous band's performance ends and they get offstage. As you can imagine the stage is pretty much a nuthouse during this time but it's amazing to watch everything come together. The musicians and pushers move each stand into position and make sure the wheels are chocked. At the end of the 8 minutes the amber light comes on to begin the performance, ready or not. During the setup time, if you're onstage with them, you need to stay alert and out of their way; it's a long way down if you get knocked off the stage.
Once the band is set up and they begin the performance photographers are limited to shooting from the sides or rear; only TV cameras are allowed in front. Some bands are so large they take up the entire stage from front to back so you pretty much have to pick one side or the other and stick with it. If you really feel you need to get a head-on shot of the band you can get offstage and go up into the stands but by the time you get down, through security and make your way through the crowd a lot of time will be lost so it's debatable if this is worth it.
This is the one event in Carnival where you really need a flash. If you only want to shoot the front of the band, which is lit by the stage lights, you can get away without one but if you want to get photos of the individual musicians on the sides or in the back you'll have to light them. I usually use my flash in manual mode but, for this event, I used TTL since you have to work very quickly and there's not time for second shots.
This is an extremely popular event, as you can see by the photo of the packed grandstands. There are a lot of media there but I must say they were all really professional about staying out of each other's way and allowing everyone to get their shot.
These photos were all taken with a Fujifilm XT-2 using 16-55mm and 50-140mm lenses. The flash was a Nissin i60A. Exposure was ISO 6400, 1/250 sec. at various apertures.
This was one of those not-to-be-missed events with unbelievable performances by very talented musicians. You can see some of the performances on YouTube but the sound quality just doesn't compare to being there in person.
Next up - Carnival Monday.