t Joy is a band I wasn't familiar with at all when they were one of the openers of the third show I photographed at the new Brady Music Center back in December of 2022. Since then I've photographed them two more times and become a fan. Discovering an opening band and watching them develop into a headliner is one of my favorite things about doing concert photography.
Not only do I enjoy their music, but they are super fun, albeit a bit challenging to photograph as well. They use lots of fog and heavily saturated backlighting with minimal front light. That can make for a lot of trial and error in the pit as the brightness of the lighting can vary drastically moment to moment. My approach to a show like this is to start by figuring out the settings for the darkest moments I’m trying to capture. My goal is usually to keep my shutter speed around 400 or higher and my aperture at f4.0 or higher and then figure out the lowest I can set my ISO and still get usable photos. I do this because, as I mentioned previous Before/After posts, I’d rather have noise than motion blur or too shallow of depth of field. Once that’s set I try to keep my aperture the same and only roll my shutter speed to adjust exposure. By doing that, I’m able to focus on only changing one setting through the whole time I’m shooting.
I then make a mental note of what my shutter speed is at different lighting intensities and on different parts of the stage. Not only to I take note of the number of the shutter speed, but also the number of clicks on the dial to go between the exposures, so I don’t have to take the camera away from my face and can adjust on the fly without thinking too much. For example, when the brightest lighting was on, my shutter speed was 1/1000 of a second. To move quickly from my darker light setting to my brighter light setting, I knew it was 4 clicks to the right on the dial. That allows me to shoot quickly without and instinctually, without having to actually think about the values shown on the camera viewfinder. Sure, for the brighter moments, I could lower my ISO instead of ramping up my shutter speed and have a bit less noise in those photos, but in concert photography, the most important thing is capturing the interesting moments. Changing my ISO on my camera requires the click of a button and then the turning of a dial. That extra step can be the difference between getting the perfect jump shot at the apex of their jump and getting an awkward moment where they are landing or look like they are hovering a few inches off the ground.
For this photo, as always I started with my base preset that is a combination of adjustments to the black levels, contrast, clarity, texture, and a tiny bit of a red cast to the shadows. Sometimes, this gets me 90% to my goal for the photo. Sometimes, it’s nowhere near. This time, it worked out great and only needed a few tiny tweaks just to dial it in and I think it turned out to be a pretty dramatic photo and a great transformation from the out-of-camera image to the full edit.
LOCATION – Cincinnati, OH
VENUE – Brady Music Center
DATE – October 4, 2023
PHOTOGRAPHER – Brian Bruemmer, Rubatophoto.com
CAMERA – Canon 6D
LENS – Canon EF 16-35mm f2.8L II
APERTURE – f/4
SHUTTERSPEED – 1/400
FOCAL LENGTH – 21mm
ISO – 6400
SOFTWARE – Adobe Lightroom Classic