Daily Photo – Cowbell at Lucky Lounge

The Daily Photo series focuses on the two or three key creative choices, in terms of composition and processing, that go into creating an image.  Specific technical details about the shot have been left out — you won’t hear me talking about tone curve adjustments and whatnot unless it was a key component of the end result.

This high ISO shot of the lead singer for “I Need More Cowbell” was taken last summer, at the dimly lit Lucky Lounge in downtown Austin.

Exposure

  • Shutter:   1/125
  • Aperture:  f/1.4
  • ISO:  3200
  • Camera:  Canon EOS 1Ds Mark III
  • Lens:  Canon EF 35mm f/1.4L USM

Composition and Processing

  • Lucky Lounge is typical of a lot of small bars:  poorly lit, with a stage that has access on only one side.  Fortunately, they also have some interesting backlighting to frame subjects against, or at least provide a better backdrop.  In this case the large glowing disk at the back and blue light reflecting off the drum kit added both color and character to the background.
  • I tend toward higher contrast shots in general, but I think it’s particularly good match for live music.  More rock n roll, as it were.  I’m not sure whether that’s genuinely a function of the subject.  It may simply be learned behavior based on the images we grew accustomed to when film was dominant (the same way we often associate sepia tones with an old or classic look).

Original:

February 05 2009 | Photography | No Comments »

Daily Photo – SXSW DJ

This was taken during the Texas Garage Event at SXSW this year. The top two decks of the new AMLI building were closed off for three days of non-stop music. Something like 75 bands and DJs performed at the free event, and nuisance or not, I happen to live in the building. Sometimes it’s just easier to photograph what’s right in front of you.

Exposure

  • Shutter: 1/125
  • Aperture: f/2.8
  • ISO: 200
  • Camera: Canon EOS 1d mIII
  • Lens: Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8L USM

Original:

Composition and Processing

  • I had actually spotted this composition earlier in the day and figured the sun would be dropping down just right to backlight one of the DJs. What I wasn’t sure about was whether I’d get just the right amount of flare in combination with, at a minimum, a typical DJ pose. And in fact, it wasn’t quite right as I ended up clipping a bit of the hand.
  • There’s more detail in the shot than suggested by the original, and most of that came back by simply running blacks up to 100 and the shadows slider down to -100 in Lightroom. I didn’t really care about clipping the shadows, and in fact preferred it since turning the canopy black provided a stronger background and better contrast to the sun. What really brought the detail out though was the Nik Efex bleach bypass filter. The image was already washed out anyway so I didn’t care what it did to the colors, but the somewhat high contrast filter helped shrink the flare and bring out the face more.
  • The nice colors came from a color balance layer in Photoshop. Since I wasn’t looking for a realistic rendition, I just twiddled with the various sliders until I got a combination I liked.

More from SXSW can be found here.

August 13 2008 | Photography | No Comments »