Sara Bareilles

2.17.09 – It was standing room only at the second of three intimate performances given by Grammy nominated chanteuse Sara Bareilles at Joe’s Pub.

Sara warmed the characteristically frosty New York audience with tales of her Grammy night hijinks and closed the evening with a heartbreaking solo performance of “Gravity” from her 2007 release Little Voice.

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Photographer’s Notes

The tiny stage, tightly spaced tables, dim lights, and abundant waitstaff make Joe’s Pub is one of the most intimate venues in New York. They also make it a photographer’s worst nightmare.

With either the rear bar or the front riser to shoot from, getting anything decent at Joe’s requires a lot of patience and a lot of manners. Since both wait staff and patrons can cross in front of your lens at any given moment Joe’s is the perfect testing ground for some of the photographic etiquette I’ve been writing about.

For this shoot, I tried to stay as out of the way as possible – I checked all of my unnecessary gear and I shot only when the music was loudest to camouflage the mirror slap. I must have done a decent job because no one seemed to notice me.

The lighting for Sara’s set was dim red wash with blue accent lighting. I compensated for the extreme color cast by dialing in a custom white balance in-camera with the intention of further white balance adjustments in post. The interesting thing about strong colored lighting is that it skews the in-camera histogram readings which, if not accounted for, will lead to improperly exposed shots.

When you’re reading the histogram, be sure to take note of the color cast of the photo and to think of how it is affecting the graphs. In this case, the histogram showed that I was blowing the red channel. Because I intended the final shots to have a relatively neutral white balance and the blue and green channels were properly exposed, I decided to let the red channel blow slightly knowing that I would pull it back afterward.

My exposure held fairly constant at ISO3200 and 1/200 at f/2.8. I shot entirely with the Nikon 70-200mm f/2.8 VR on the D3.

  1. Chris -
    Your photography is stunning! I especially love the shot of Sarah at the piano with Javier in the background (4th shot). Have to give you props, noticed you setting up early on (pretty sure you were directly behind me), but you moved stealth style throughout the show as to not distract.

  2. New Blog Post – Sara Bareilles sang her ass off at Joe’s Pub: http://snurl.com/c6rz9

  3. Jim

    Chris, these photos are beautiful. The skin tone looks great, not like she was under strong red light at all. How did you set your white balance in camera? Did you just set a reasonable tungsten temp (2900 or so?), or did you pull a custom white balance some other way?

  4. Thanks JayVee! There are a lot of photographers who think that having an “assignment” gives them license to basically ruin the show for everyone. While I can never be totally silent or completely invisible, I do my best. I’m glad you like the photos and I’m that I wasn’t in the way!

    Also, let me know if you ever want to collaborate on a review.

  5. Hi Jim,

    I’m very glad you like the photos!

    I set a “reasonable” tungsten temp of 2700K(?) or so and then carefully watched my histograms to make sure I wasn’t blowing all of the color channels too badly.

    The only reason I bother to set a ballpark white balance in camera is so that my histogram readings are more accurate.

    I then applied a warm custom white balance to all of the shots in Capture NX2. Email me if you have any questions as to how this exactly works.

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