The Lower Lights, December 2013

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The Lower Lights, December 2013

Shot these guys last week. It was a great show and the Masonic Temple was a great place to see them. The last time I saw them was in October of 2012 (1,2,3, 4) at a rooftop show. They were great there, but this indoor stage and venue was more suited to them. Given their size, they probably could use a deeper stage. That’s not a complaint, just marveling that they could move around so easily. Given the feel of the show and venue, this was not a typical band shoot of the “stand in the security moat, shoot for three songs, no flash photography and done” variety. No pit, no security barricades.

I wanted to be sensitive and staked out an ok vantage from the balcony:

I stayed up there, hiding behind a curtain for a few songs and before heading backstage, I snuck in one of the floor entrances and stayed low to grab a few frames:

Lower Lights live at the Salt Lake City Masonic Temple, Christmas, 2013. By Jon Armstrong for by Jon Armstrong for

Lower Lights live at the Salt Lake City Masonic Temple, Christmas, 2013. By Jon Armstrong for by Jon Armstrong for

I was able to shoot the rest of the show, as long as I stayed out of the way and out of view. So I stood in the wings and shot atypical live band shots. I think these backstage shots are more intimate and while the angles aren’t always on, I felt like sharing just the same, because these quieter moments match the feel of the music of The Lower Lights:

I shot all of these at an ISO of 12800, which accounts for the grain. Even at 12800, the images are less grainy than the 3200 ISO Kodak film I shot in the late 1990s at live shows. I am always amazed at how far the digital gear has come in just a dozen or so years.

At the last Lower Lights show I shot, and with other bands and venues where the lights are closer to the performers, the highlights blow out pretty quickly. Juggling high ISO and slower shutter speeds is part of the problem and it’s something that I’ve struggled to fix. Until I watched Scott Jarvie’s video where he talks about presets and making a look in Lightroom. The thing I picked up? In the Basic module, drop the Highlights slider down toward black. This fixed a lot of seemingly blown out images that I might have discarded. If you shoot RAW, you should watch the video. When you preview your images, you see a JPG that approximates the settings at capture. When you pull the RAW image in, it will be close, but you have a lot of leeway. And in all of the full group shots, I pulled down the whites heavily, in some cases all the way down. There is a strange look that has to be ironed out with exposure and such, but the washed out facial features and overblown lighting is dramatically reduced. Learning this makes me want to go back and re-edit some older shoots.

The rest of these shots are in a set on Flickr. If you haven’t checked out The Lower Lights, you can visit their site, Be sure to give their latest album a listen on Bandcamp.

Yes, it’s Christmas music.

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