Sarah McLachlan at the Save-On-Foods Memorial Centre.
Technical tangent: Y’know those words in the little tag shapes at the bottom of the page, such as arenas, Canon 70-200, and SOFMC?
Those are tags, and you can click on any of them to see, for instance, more arena shows, other photos shot with the Canon 70-200 f/2.8 telephoto lens, or more shows from the Save-On-Foods Memorial Centre.
Well, there’s a new tag down there, before-after. This is the first post tagged with it. What that means is that I’m gonna show you what a particular shot looked like before and after I worked on it. In this case, the shot above.
Scroll down to the next bright freakin’ yellow photo to begin your journey into technical digital photo processing gunk, or click here to skip all that and just go to the next shot from the concert.
Still with me? Cool. Sarah’s stage was often awash with yellow spotlights, leading to many captures which looked like this:
No, that big panel wasn’t floating on the stage. That’s from Adobe Photoshop Lightroom, which I use to give my photos a spit-polish before they are introduced to the world. The panel above is zeroed out, meaning that this is what it looked like straight out of the camera.
Here’s a secret: wanna know why concert photos often appear in black and white? It’s not always an artistic decision. Often, it’s because coloured lighting hit a performer with such a level of saturation that it can’t be faithfully or realistically rescued to look natural.
So, down goes the Saturation slider to rip all the colour of of the shot. It’s not generally my favourite thing to do, but if it’ll save the shot, wahoo!
In this case, just taking the colour out wasn’t enough, ’cause it still looked like Sarah was awash in nuclear fire, and there was barely any contrast. So, after some experimentation, I dropped the Highlights (which helps reclaim blown out areas) all the way down, as well as crushing the Blacks to -100.
I’d never normally be so extreme in my post production, but that was all I could do to recover any sense of depth from the photo. A little nudge of Clarity (which is kinda like Contrast, but with added texture), and I was really happy with the shot.
Canon EOS 550D (T2i) · Sigma 10-20mm f/3.5 EX DC HSM
11 mm · 1/200 s · f/3.5 · ISO 1600
Were I to ever admit to a celebrity crush, it would’ve been Sarah McLachlan, from the moment I first heard “Into the Fire” in 1992.
Some 22 years later, Sarah’s voice is still just as solid as it was back then.
Her onstage energy, while devoid of headbanging and stage diving, is about the same as it was when I last saw her live in 2005.
Sarah’s a big believer in breaking the “us and them” wall so, through social media contesting, she selected a few lucky folks to sit on her couch, stage right, for a few songs, to get an up-close experience of the show.
I’m very glad I was approved to shoot this show (it’s a crap shoot 90% of the time), having never shot a Sarah show before.