top of page

How I Got These Photos... Concert Photography

Rock N Roll Band in performance

Concert and low-light photography are both areas of photography where I am in a bit of a 'comfort zone.' As a musician and a photographer, I have spent a lot of time in the overlap between those two passions. As a result, I have been the photographer for a lot of performances! This particular photo is from a different setting. I was an attendee at a workshop by Rock Star Photographer, Greg Watermann. The workshop was also sponsored by Zeiss, so we were all invited to shoot various Zeiss lenses. This image was created with the Zeiss Milvus 15mm f2.8, mounted on a Canon 5D Mark IV.

For this image, I was shooting at 1/100 second at f2.8, then using the ISO adjustment as my means to adjust the exposure. This image was taken with an ISO of 5000. I'm comfortable pushing the ISO on the Mark IV much farther than I would push the Mark III. If I had been still shooting my Mark III, I think this image would have been exceptionally challenging to capture.

The original photo of course was a 3:2 aspect ratio, but I cropped to square because you could see other photographers off to the right side. There were ten or twelve photographers shooting in a very tight space, so it was fairly impossible to stay entirely out of each-others' way. I think this image does a fairly good job of showing how small the stage is. The 15mm makes the space look bigger than it actually is. It's a SMALL stage.

There is one other major difference in this post processing from my norm - I used a preset! I am in the process of compiling an article for various presets from a ton of different manufacturers. Since I have never used presets before, I have been experimenting. The preset that I applied is from the VSCO Alternative Process Films pack, and the specific preset is Provia 400X - Vibrant.

After the application of that preset, I also used the brush tool. I have a "dodge shadows" brush, which I believe also came with the VSCO set, but I'm not 100% sure of that... I have found that keeping my brush tools sorted and organized has been INCREDIBLY challenging. I wish Lightroom would allow the brush tools to be stored in folders like they allow presets to be sorted... but that is not the case. As a side note, I spent quite a bit of time combing through the forums over at Adobe, trying to figure out why my brushes are behaving so oddly. Sometimes when I open up Lightroom, the brushes appear alphabetically, which makes them quite easy to find. Other times, they are completely randomized. When this happens, I can't for the life of me figure out how to switch back to alphabetical listing. SO ... if any readers happen to know the answer to that puzzle, please let me know! I do know that you can rename the title of the preset, and try to sort them that way, but this is a different issue. At times, Lightroom is completely ignoring the title, and sorting some other way (or perhaps just viciously randomizing.) But I digress....

So the "dodge shadows" brush is one of my favorites. The name is very self-explanatory, but rather than simply dodging the entire spectrum of the image, it just lightens the shadows frequency range. It's a VERY handy tool, and I use it a lot. I took that tool and brushed over each of the musicians, to help them "pop" a bit more.

Between the 5000 ISO and the fairly extreme pulling up of the shadows, there is a decent amount of grain in this image. However, I'm totally fine with that, it's a grungy venue, and I think the grain fits right in, and doesn't interfere with the aesthetic of the overall image at all.


Here is another image taken from the same workshop, but I processed it very differently. The top copy is straight out of camera, followed by my finished edit:

Concert Photo - non-edited

Edited Concert Photo

The settings for this photo: Canon 5D Mark IV, Canon 24-70 f2.8 L series II, 1/100 sec @ f2.8 ISO 2500

So the post-processing on this image was actually done almost entirely in Lumenzia. For anyone who is unfamiliar with luminosity masks, it's an incredibly powerful editing option where you are basically using the luminosity or brightness of an image to make selections. Lumenzia is an add-on for Photoshop, created by Greg Benz. I used Lumenzia to select the D4 (dark 4) range of the photo, and used that selection to create a mask for a levels adjustment. I then took those levels, and brightened up the image dramatically. I pushed the brightening right to the very limits, and perhaps even went a bit past "tasteful." That's it! That's the entire extent of processing on the image.


Both techniques work wonderfully, and they are both very common tools in my 'bag of tricks' for capturing and post-processing images.

If you are interested in learning more about Lumenzia, I recommend both the Luminosity Masking Facebook group, run by Greg Benz, or check out his website directly.

bottom of page