In the second installment of an ongoing series, I will complain or rave about the lighting conditions that I come across on my concert-going adventures.
Let me start this off by saying that I like this venue. It’s a nice intimate space (it holds about 200). The layout is well thought out, and the staff is rad. Not to mention that they have a pretty nice food menu.
One thing that sets ‘Baby’s’ apart from other venues is the back of the stage. Instead of a black wall at the rear of the stage, there’s a gray wall with a few hundred embedded ashtrays. The ashtrays are clear and LED lighting shines through. This is a pretty nifty idea, considering that the venue is too small to have a haze machine and beams of light behind the performers. It really adds to the ambiance.
But, just because there’s a nice lighting system, doesn’t mean that someone is going to control it in the way that it should be controlled. Take this shot of the band High Waisted. The back of the stage is lit by white lights, while the performers are drenched in purple. This should be the opposite. White light in the front, colors in the back.
This is how the stage was lit the entire performance. As an audience member, I don’t want to see this chick drenched in purple for 40 minutes. It looks awful. Sickly is a word I would use. As a photographer I hate how these turned out.
So, instead of making everything black and white, I used the split toning function in Lightroom to fix the skin tones and make everyone look a lot more human. Like so:
LED stage lighting is notoriously difficult to color correct compared to more traditional lighting. While the skin tones are fixed, other colors are compromised. Take for example this shot of La Sera’s Tod Wisenbaker and Katy Goodman:
Ugh, this purple lighting is fucking killing me. So, again, I go into split toning and try and get skin tones and hair color look a little more natural than the sickly purple.
I think I did a pretty good job, but check out Tod’s Chicago Bears jersey. It should be dark blue. Not green. Can’t do anything about it.
Now, even though La Sera’s lighting wasn’t even close to ideal, it wasn’t nearly as bad as Worriers set:
Their entire set was bathed in red lighting. For one song? Fine. For 40 minutes? Fuck you. The worst part about red lighting is that all you lose a large amount of detail in photographs. And these are no exception. I shot about 2 dozen photos and gave up because I knew I was going to hate them. Sorry, Worriers. I’ll hit you up next time you play.
Verdict: Baby’s All Right has the potential to be a classic music venue. The stage design with the ashtrays in the back is iconic. People will see photographs 20 years from now and know that it’s Baby’s All RIght. That is no small feat.
If the same attention that was put into the lighting design was put into how the stage is actually lit during a performance this would be a great venue to shoot. The good news is that with some tweaks, the poor lighting can be fixed. But, considering the amount of time and work that I put into color correction for 5 bands, Baby’s All Right a pain in the ass to photograph. Score: 5/10