On a cold night in December 2007, The Pageant was packed to the gills with music fans awaiting an incredible four-top ticket. Chicago alt-rockers The Hush Sound brought their fan base out in droves for a short and sweet set. Though one wouldn’t know it from the masses of young indie fans singing along to every song, The Hush Sound was performing in support of hometown favorites Ludo.

With Greta Salpeter on the Nord and guitarist Bob Morris on his Fender, the group’s set drew from So Sudden (2005), Like Vines (2006) and new material from their third album Goodbye Blues due out next month.

The Hush Sound is about to headline their next tour that kicks off on February 29, 2008. In addition, they will also appear with Panic At The Disco, Motion City Soundtrack, and Phantom Planet as part of the Honda Civic Tour.


The lighting for this set was very dim and focused almost entirely on singer/keyboardist Greta Salpeter at center stage. As mentioned in my write-up of the following act Ludo, the front of the stage was covered with various Christmas decorations that cut off most of the best shooting angles. The decorations, combined with the very high stage at The Pageant made for exceedingly few composition options.


The lighting consisted mainly of atmospheric colored washes that fell in shades of blue, orange and magenta behind center stage. Overall, the set was very dim. The resulting images benefited heavily from noise reduction and exposure compensation after the fact.


I shot the entire set at a rather ridiculous ISO 6400 and 1/100 at either f/2.0 or f/2.8. These settings still left most of the images underexposed.


I didn’t really have the right setup this time. I would normally use the Canon 70-200mm f/2.8 in these situations, it was the holidays and I was traveling light. Though the Canon 24-70mm f/2.8 contributed a few shots in the 50mm range, my Canon 135mm f/2.0 saw most of the action.

Normally, the Canon 135mm f/2.0 is a wonderful lens. It’s small, light, and exceedingly sharp wide open. Unfortunately the prime was a bit too long in reach for front of stage shooting at the Pageant and lacked the image stabilization needed in such very low light conditions. The resulting compositions are a little tighter than I’d like and much of the evening’s take suffered from camera shake.

  1. ISO 6400!?? and they still look super sharp! is there a certain noise filter you use for this?

    ps. Your photos are seriously awesome. I would gladly get out of your way at a show so you wouldn’t have to headbutt me!

  2. chris

    Thanks Josh. I try to keep the headbutting to a minimum.

    These shots were all processed with Noise Ninja. But there are a few good noise reduction programs out there – Noiseware, Grain Surgery and Dfine to name a few.

    ISO6400 on the 1D3 is totally decent if exposure is fairly good to begin with. The problem is that the files don’t stand up to post processing nearly as well as images shot at lower ISOs.

    Canon is fairly honest when it specs the “default” sensitivity ranges of its cameras. The 1D3 goes from 100-3200 as default quite well.

    ISO 1600 is great
    ISO 3200 is totally usable
    ISO 6400 starts to fall apart

    Thanks again for your kind words, I hope you’ll stop by to comment often.