A KARNIVOOL of Lights and Challenges

Quite often shooting a live show has unique challenges you encounter with no other forms of photography.  Besides the unpredictable movement of the band members, it’s also very difficult to predict the lighting. It’s usually quite dark, and strobe lighting can be a nightmare.

The worst colours to deal with are red and blue. Red cancels all other tones out; blue is second in line of this evil.

The night I shot Karnivool produced challenges which I’d never faced before–there was no front lighting, meaning all the light was coming from the back. The Croxton Bandroom has a very low but wide stage which meant the lights were placed low to the floor and at the back of the stage. These bright beacons were pointed directly forward facing which overwhelmed the lens with light; all I was getting was black (underexposed; no night) and white (overexposed; too much light) “photos” every time I clicked.

I decided, “This was going to be a challenge; I’m going to learn from this! I’ve got to learn to think differently with this.”

Suddenly I realised that if I put a band member in the line of the light and waited patiently for the strobe light to blink and the backlight to sit evenly behind the musician, creating a star effect, there would be enough light wrapping around him to get some detail come through. The result is what you see below.

These are some of my favourite photos I’ve ever taken. And, that night I not only discovered a new way of shooting but a fantastic band of which I am now a huge fan of. Bring on their new album!

Sometimes the lighting was generous enough and gave enough light at the front… but most of the show it was as above.