Stop in to any record or CD store anywhere in the world and you can find examples of Carl Dunn's work. Carl Dunn has been photographing musicians for over 40 years. His scope of work includes 10s of thousands of photographs of some of the biggest names in music. Carl has photographed David Bowie, Bruce Springsteen, Mick Jagger, James Marshall Hendrix, Led Zeppelin, Elvis, Jeff Beck, and The Who, just to name a few. His album and book credits include Jimi Hendrix, Led Zeppelin, Emerson, Lake and Palmer, Moody Blues and many lessor known artist from the 70's, as well as having credits in many documentary films. Early on, Carl was able to form unique relationships that allowed him full access to the biggest names in music. He's shot musicians in varied environments from concerts, to bars, in studios, backstage and in candid situations.
Many of his images are iconic in nature. Carl's ability to capture a musician in a single moment and to tell a story about their artistry through a single image is remarkable. Yet, speaking with Carl you do not get the sense that his photographs are really that big of a deal. In fact, for Carl, you get the sense that photographing musicians is a second nature to ordinary life: "I shoot the same photograph over and over." He likes to consider his photography as a "curiosity driven by some underlying passion."
Carl is a Nikon shooter, and he always has been. Carl's choice in a camera system was based on the quality of Nikon lenses at the time of his start in photography. In considering lens sharpness, Carl thinks that "Nikon [lenses] compared to other 35mm manufacturers of the day were by far the best with the possible exception of Leica." His early photographs were shot with a Nikon F and the Nikon 300mm f/4, 50mm f/1.4, 85mm f/1.8, and 180mm f/2.8. The 300mm f/4 was stolen, however, so the majority of his early photographs were taken with the remaining three lenses.
Carl has recently been working on scanning many of his older negatives into digital files. He acquired a Nikon Coolscan 9000 from us a little while ago (unfortunately these great scanners are discontinued and no longer available), and is impressed with the quality. The scans require a little bit of work, and Carl makes sure to use the multi-sampling functionality to get the highest quality results. One issue that plagues his work is getting the negatives clean. Years of storage, even in archival negative sleeves, have not been kind to the scanning process. Carl tries to get the negatives as clean as possible with PEC-12 emulsion cleaner by Photographic Solutions. Scratches and stubborn spots cannot be resolved in this way, however, so Carl resorts to post-processing. He spends a lot of time with each photograph, viewing the digital image at 100% and correcting any artifacts at their size scale.
Carl lives in Texas, but has been our customer for several years now. He first contacted us when he was interested in a Nikon D3 and saw that we had some. Lucky for us, Carl has been a customer ever since, and he calls us up whenever he needs something, or to just talk about life. Carl's transition into digital photography has been a satisfying one. Carl is especially impressed with the low-light advantage of the Nikon D3. He says, "With Nikon's ability to capture at low light I find the biggest advantage is to get the shutter speed up and the aperture squeezed down." Carl has often told me that he likes to shoot stopped down to at least f/5.6 because that is when he gets a more 3-dimensional feel to the image. And, being able to use a camera with a very clean high-iso allows him to do this and still be able to maintain a useful shutter speed. A tip he suggests, "The main thing is to avoid over exposure, which is especially critical with digital cameras and concert lighting."
One of the more recent excitements in digital photography for Carl is the panorama. In his earlier days of photography he tried capturing concert venues with a wide-angle lens. Unfortunately, the wide-angle never captured the entire feel and moment of the concert. With digital photography Carl is able to capture multiple images and stitch them together to get a perspective that would not otherwise be possible with a single shot using a wide-angle lens.
In addition to the changes seen by digital photography, Carl is amazed by the quality of modern lenses. He notes that the sharpness of his current images are far better than anything he has before produced. His most used lenses are the Nikon AF-S 24-70mm f/2.8 and the Nikon AF-S 70-200mm f/2.8 VR. The first instinct many photographers might have is that these lenses are too slow for the low-light situations of concert venues, wanting to grab for a f/1.8 or faster lens. Again, the unparalleled high-ISO performance of the D3 allows for Carl to use smaller apertures and still maintain a fast enough shutter speed for sharp images.
Carl is still photographing musicians, and recently followed Jeff Beck. He is a contributor to the UK Cancer Research charity and auction held annually at Abbey Road Studio in London and hosted by Sir George Martin. Carl has published a book of his work and the book can be seen at http://www.thisisrockandroll.com/. He has prints available for sale at http://rockandrollgallery.com/. Prints and books are also available directly through Carl.