Before / After – The Kills




his is one of the more dramatic transformations I've done in a long time. It was my first time photographing The Kills, so I'm not sure if this is their typical lighting look, but it was definitely a challenge to work quickly in the three songs. I was almost constantly flipping around settings. For my first show in nearly two months, it was a bit nerve-wracking, but that's part of the fun. In fact, the most difficult shows to shoot often yield the most exciting results because they are unpredictable and unique.

As with all shows, I set my ISO first to the lowest I can get a reasonable photo with, which for this show was at ISO 8000. Typically I have avoided using any higher than ISO 6400, but the AI Denoise in Lightroom Classic has opened up even more options. I started out with my shutter speed at 400 and my aperture at f4.0 and then adjusted up and down as the lights got darker and brighter or they moved in and out of darker and brighter parts of the stage. Alison Mosshart was very active on stage and I wish I could have dialed up my shutter speed to to freeze her head banging hair more, but it’s always a give and take and I ended up shooting a lot of the show at 250 shutter speed.


I always start by applying my basic color preset, but for a photo like this one with a ton of red color and shadows, there was quite a bit more work to be done. First, I got the white balance as close as I could get before moving onto coping with all of the haze and shadows. I started by taking the black levels much lower than typical and then cranked up the dehaze, clarity, and texture to bring our more details from the washed out areas.

Next, I had to do a few more tweaks to the color using the color grading and putting in a bit more green/blue into the shadows, highlights and midtowns to counteract the all of the red and orange in the photo. Once I got the skin tone looking more natural, I felt like the colors were looking a bit too intense for my taste and pulled the saturation down a little. Lastly, I did what has become my customary last step and applied the AI Denoise.


LOCATION – Cincinnati, OH
VENUE – Bogart’s
DATE – February 17, 2024

PHOTOGRAPHER – Brian Bruemmer, Rubatophoto.com

CAMERA – Canon 6D
LENS – Canon EF 16-35mm f2.8L II 

APERTURE – f/3.5
ISO – 8000

SOFTWARE – Adobe Lightroom Classic

Musician, concert photographer, writer, podcast host and founder of The Hot Mic Music Magazine.