Mnemonic, Josiah Wolf and Phantogram

Somehow I overlooked posting these photos from back in October. It was a good show, though I realized I’m basically too old to be staying up that late for an out-of-town concert. That same night, a few miles away, Liz Phair was playing a show. I briefly thought about trying to go to both, but with unknown start times and all there was no way of getting the timing down.




Josiah Wolf and Liz Hodson










Washed Out, Phantogram, and Ra Ra Riot

With my fastest f/1.8 lens and ISO pushed to 3200 it was still a struggle to get tack sharp photos in the limited-lumen, magenta gelled concert hall. Perhaps it’s something I should just resign myself to for anything other than a stadium or outdoor daytime show. And perhaps with that a slight adjustment in aesthetic goals (e.g. embrace the blur!).

Washed Out


Ra Ra Riot

See the full set.


Tracy Bonham



Although a fair bit brighter than the Phantogram show, the venue also was a proud member of the magenta and cyan gel club. I compensated for it as much as I could in-camera, dialing the white balance down manually as far as it could go (around 2500K). In the processing I chose to keep some of the magenta cast intact – it was how the stage was lit after all and I didn’t want to be too aggressive in the adjustments. Black and white conversions also help make it a moot point.

Also having learned a few lessons from the Phantogram show, I brought the fastest telephoto lens I have in my kit, the 85mm f/1.8. Fortunately I didn’t have to shoot wide open nor crank the ISO as high as 3200, as I was getting healthy hand-holdable settings of around 1/160 at f/2.8.

The primary challenge with this show actually turned out to be positioning. With audience seating flush to the edge of the stage, I didn’t see many options initially, so I started out stage right, which gave me a straightforward – if not particularly dynamic – perspective. A few songs in I spotted an opening closer in on stage left, and moved there between songs. The early departure of a couple front row viewers then gave me the opportunity to get down on the floor for some more dramatic angles.

Overall I was quite pleased with the evening of shooting. And to think I almost didn’t go…

See the full sets of color and black whites.


Martin Sexton


Initially I was regretting not bringing the big camera, which would have allowed for some nice close-ups. But the Panasonic GF1 with a fast 40mm equivalent lens produced some very pleasing shots. Autofocus was fast and accurate and ISO 1600 very usable. In the future, however, I’ll just plan on bringing the big camera with me to the consistently camera friendly (if often underlit) WOW Hall.




This show was insanely crowded and after shooting the first three songs I was glad to get out. You’d think standing hip to hip with college age girls would have been interesting, but it was mostly annoying and stress inducing (am I getting old, or what?).

The continued low lighting and constant movement of the hip hop artists required a change in technique, so after a couple of questionable exposures I dropped the ISO to 800, dialed down the shutter speed to 1/15 and popped the built-in flash. It might have been fun to stay around to experiment a little longer with slow flash exposures, but I’d had enough of the crush of humanity by that point.




This was a fun but challenging shoot due to the lighting. With the stage being powered off the grid by bicycles, the lumens were kept to a minimum. In some respects the surrounding street lighting looked brighter! Contrast was helped at times by a strobe light placed at the foot of the stage, but I didn’t try for any multiple exposure effects like at their indoor shows.

The low light situation was helped by managing to get a good position at the front of the stage, allowing me to use the stage floor to stabilize at least my body movement. Getting a bit caught up in the moment, I didn’t realize until I got home that I didn’t have image stabilizing engaged, which may have offered some additional assistance with camera shake. Although I can’t resist wondering what “might have been,” I should recognize I got some satisfying results while practicing good technique. And in some cases a bit of blur and movement is more interesting.