DJ Thief and a Wild Night

DJ Thief is not me, however we are related, He’s my lunatic brother and he is highly animated all the time, I actually think he is like that when he sleeps, if he sleeps but he has some serious talent in being a DJ. In the late 80’s or early 90’s he started DJ’ing and did tour several countries playing to audiences of anywhere from a couple of hundred to several thousand people. Even today I am still amazed at what he has achieved by simply spinning some vinyl. I have approached him about an interview for the blog which is something I am now working on, I just need to pin him down for long enough to ask him questions.

I was fortunate enough to learn that a group of Old School DJs that played Rave parties in the early 90’s were going to be together on one night and in the one place. This only happens once every twelve months or so and is a big event on the social calendar for the Brisbane social scene. Many old rave party fans come out and dance throughout the night working up a huge sweat. I pestered my brother for me to be able to photograph the event up close. Now I have never done anything like this before and I must admit that I had several problems to get decent photos of the DJ’s spinning the vinyl on the turntables and there are many reasons why I had so many problems getting quality images.

Overall I wanted I wanted the final images to be raw and up close and personal with the DJ’s as they may not be doing the event again next year. I think I achieved the results that I was looking for.


One of my rules that I like to follow is that I like to be able to do a check of the location first before I shoot, but I didn’t learn of the location until a couple of hours before hand which negated any chance of me checking it out, I did want to see what the lighting would be like, how much light there is available to illuminate the DJ’s, can I get in front of the DJs to photograph them which led to how big the stage area is and how high the stage is up from the dance floor. Where can I store gear securely and a good spot to change batteries or memory cards etc.

What I got was not even close to what I had imagined or what I had hoped for. I got a small stage, poor lighting, cables everywhere, alcohol flowing with hundreds of people going off. It was a wild night


I wanted to try and capture the DJs without flash but the lighting was pretty poor and there was no way possible synching me firing the shutter with the strobe that illuminated them. So I had to use a flash gun. I haven’t used a flash gun for quite awhile and I certainly needed some practice at getting the settings right. Where possible I tried to bounce the flash off of walls and the very low ceiling. That approach only worked some of the time


I had to vary the ISO from each spot that I was able to shoot from and this was because the lighting was different. On average the ISO was 800 which undoubtedly added some unnecessary noise to the images however that just added to the effect of the images being up close and personal.


I used the lowest aperture I could and I started out with my Macro Lens, Its not ideal but its got a bigger aperture than my standard lens plus its fixed at 60mm. After about 20 shots I realised that it wasn’t going to work so I had to switch out my lens and I ended up with an Aperture of f5.6 because that is a low as my lens would go. I did try to use another lens that was ‘Supposed’ to be good at f2.8 however it wasn’t fast enough and if it was I may have been able to lower the ISO down to say 400 or 640 which would have reduced the noise and provided cleaner images.

Shutter Speed

The best shutter speed that I could manage hand held was 1/80, This was a slow enough shutter speed to be able to catch them without using the flash however I didn’t work all of the time due to the fast pace of the action and I ended up with blurred shots so when I was really forced into using the flash so I made the Shutter Speed at 200. which worked well and in the end this shutter speed provided an a good overall speed for the night and I did use it consistently throughout the event.


I like to push my equipment as much as I can to see where it succeeds and where it fails and video in this case failed. Even the promoters Sony handy cam struggled and that was the latest that the he had purchased. So the video that I had taken looked alright on the LCD screen on the  back of the screen  but when I played it back….well I wasn’t worth wasting the memory space of the SD Cards.

So my poor old Nikon D90 didn’t handle the video that well in that environment which is something that I didn’t know when I started.

Overall, I did enjoy the night and I would do this again, I certainly learnt a lot from the experience like taking hearing protection when being on the stage as I was deaf for about 3 days afterwards and for over a week I had a constant ringing in my ears.

If you are interested in seeing more images from the event, I have uploaded them to a gallery on my website (thiefimages) and are currently free to download. I would also love to know what you think of these images as not all of them are Black and White. Please feel free to leave comments here or on my website.

Happy Shooting.

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