December 7, 2008 – It’s not all signed talent and tour buses 24/7 here at One Louder Photo. Even though the photos don’t always hit the homepage, I enjoy shooting commissioned work for unsigned artists like Brooklyn’s own Joanna Levine. Originally from Toronto, Joanna is a sultry indie/folk songstress whose music reminds me a little of Kendall Payne (only it’s sexier and more Canadian). I caught up with Joanna and her band at Sullivan Hall.

Joanna was the first of two commissioned shoots I have before the holidays. Stay tuned for live shots and maybe a few promotional photos from The Energy’s sold out show at Blender Theater on December 18.

Joanna Levine Online:

Joanna Levine in the Flesh:
December 18 @ Bar 4, Brooklyn
December 19 @ Goodbye Blue Monday, Brookyln

Photographer’s Notes:

I used this shoot to break in my new Nikon D3. Shooting exclusively with the AF-S Nikkor 24-70 f/2.8, the sparse and contrasty lighting was the perfect proving ground for the camera’s heavily lauded low-light capabilities. Where there wasn’t any light, I made my own by way of the new Nikon SB-900 Speedlight and the SC-28 TTL off-camera cord.

This set was shot at ISO 800 – 6400 at roughly 1/160 and f/2.8. My exposure stretched a bit for shots of the Joanna’s band but in particular for Paul, her drummer, who was covered with smoke and harsh side lighting.

The D3 performed fabulously under subpar conditions. The contrast, detail and dynamic range retained at ISOs 3200 and 6400 is simply astonishing. Even the most cursory of image comparisons reveals a significant improvement over the files from my Canon EOS-1D Mark III. I’m happy to say that the D3 will be my defacto photographic tool for the foreseeable future.

I’ll be writing a formal post on the differences between shooting with Canon vs. Nikon soon. Look for a post this weekend.

  1. I hate you I hate you I hate you. Hahaha. I nearly succumbed to temptation this week, I was <—that close to buying a D700, due to the seductive holiday discount on Nikons at Calumet. I stopped myself just in time.

  2. Commissioned Shoot: Brooklyn indie/folk sensation Joanna Levine.

  3. I’ve used my SB-800 with a SC-28 before, but never got a balance between flash and ambient that I liked. Any input on how you balance out the overall exposure? I tend to fiddle around with flash compensation quite a bit, and wondered if you did the same.

    Of course, I probably just need to practice more.

  4. Well, the D700 is $600 off at Calumet right now… with a no interest for 12 months plan. A year to pay off $2,400? Not bad.

  5. Yeah the $600 is really, really sweet. I hope it stays that low for a little while so that I can get in on it. How seriously are you considering it?

  6. I really like the depth/contrast/colours here – great work in the low light!

  7. Nice photos.. and dope to hear you are back on the Nikon side! I’m stoked to hear that and see what you have to say about the differences. I switched a couple years ago getting into photography, and I haven’t been happier with my decision. Lookin forward to the post!

    Happy holidays!

  8. Hey Gabi, you know, I almost bought the D700 instead of the D3 ;-) It’s definitely high on my purchase list as a backup body. Next time you go into a camera store take me with you, I’ll be the devil’s advocate. heheh

  9. Hi Jason, balancing flash and ambient can be very tricky. Send me an email if you’d like more details, but my basic technique is this:

    1) Shoot manual.

    2) Find the proper combination of shutter/aperture/iso to produce a pleasing ambient background. Ignore the exposure of the subject entirely.

    3) Turn the flash on TTL and spot meter skin tones. Take a test shot. Your background should look the same but your subject should be lit by the flash.

    4) If the subject is underexposed, turn the flash power up accordingly. If the color isn’t good, either gel your flash or turn your cameras WB to a colder or warmer temp. It’s your preference.

    5) If the flash is totally blowing out your subject, stop your aperture down. When shooting with flash, shutter speed controls how much ambient light comes in and aperture controls how much flash comes in. It’s almost that simple.

    In the case of Joanna’s guitarist, I lowered the flash power by shooting the flash directly into wood floor boards with the camera on Auto White Balance.

    Bouncing the flash off the floor softened the light, warmed the WB of the light, and made the flash into a much larger light source.

    I hope this helps. Chris

  10. Thanks Kristen. I just switched to the Nikon D3, which is very different in terms of color and contrast from my Canon 1DmarkIII. It’s going to take some getting used to but so far so good.