The Sounds - Roseland Ballroom

Maja Ivarsson and Jesper Anderberg of The Sounds perform at Roseland Ballroom, NYC. September 17, 2009.

Whether it’s the high likelihood of taking the newest addition to my portfolio or just seeing how high Maja Ivarsson’s heels with be this time, going to see The Sounds in concert is something I look forward to every concert season.

While a little indie piece of me dies every time I hear one of their songs playing on the in-store-soundtrack at The Gap (I’m shopping at The Gap so how hipster could I possibly be?) I am both thankful and happy that the band’s popularity has risen to a level high enough to mean multiple visits in NYC – I’ve seen and photographed them four (4) times this tour!

I’m also happy their true headliner status gives them access to beautifully atmospheric light shows like the on at Roseland Ballroom this past week. Did I say I was happy about the light show? Well, mostly happy.

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Photographer’s Notes


I’d love to say that this concert photography shoot was both a pleasure and a breeze, but for those of you who know my work, the very fact that there are black & white photos in this set should tell you that this concert was a bitch to photograph (but very rock’n’roll). With marching orders to shoot the first three and the last three songs, I had high hopes for nice direct front lighting for at least one of the songs during the encore; it never happened.


Whether by design or not, there was virtually no light on the faces of any of the band members and too much light behind them. The entire band was backlit for the entire show which forced my ISO up to 3200 and my shutter speed down to 1/15 of a second when shooting at f/2.8.

In stark contrast to my old Canon EOS-1D Mark III, which could not focus properly even in backlight daylight, my Nikon D3 did not seem to mind the difficult lighting at all when pared with the newer 14-24mm or 24-70mm or old 70-200mm zoom lenses.

About the B&W

For those of you who are wondering, the black and white photos were converted using a mixture of roughly R-90% G-10% B-0% in Photoshop’s channel mixer the artistic choice was between a completely red photo or a nicely toned b&w conversion that relied heavily on the red channel. I chose the later where I thought appropriate.

Thank Yous

Huge ups to The Sounds for putting on such an awesome show. Big love to Steven and Bethany for coordinating the shoot!

The Sounds - Roseland Ballroom
  1. Concert Photography tips from the master: Chris Owyoung, The Sounds, #photog

  2. Wow, Chris. The B/W conversion on #3 is gorgeous. When I shot them they were in full sunlight, so I'm completely envious of the dark dramatic lighting. Your love of this band really shows. Beautiful set!

  3. chrisowyoung

    Thanks so much Paige. The Sounds have been a favorite of mine for years. I photographed them outdoors this tour as well, but as you can understand, I wasn't happy with the lack of atmosphere and never posted them. Cheers, Chris

  4. The Sounds Concert photos and tech notes by @chrisowyoung

  5. Lighting designer tries to cause brownout in Times Square a.k.a photos of @thesounds at Roseland! —

  6. Man that looks brutal. We definitely got a better treatment in DC, but there was still all that crazy backlight to contend with.

    Incidentally, I think the 14-24 lens was made for this show.

  7. chrisowyoung

    Some GREAT stuff there Brandon. How high is that stage?

  8. Thanks Chris! The 9:30 Club stage is pretty low (one of the reasons I really like shooting there). I'd say about waist level. You can kind of see it here –

    BTW, at that show the lighting was really rough for the first 3 but unlike you, we got some better stuff during the encore.

  9. chrisowyoung

    Damn, I would kill for a stage that low! You had 6 songs to work?

  10. Yeah, although really 5 since one of the first three was just a short intro track. Being able to shoot the encore was fantastic. We could also shoot from outside the pit during the rest of the set.

  11. @paigekparsons – Thanks for the lovely comment on my photos of The Sounds —

  12. Love that first b/w shot, as well as the green lit one. Well, all of them really, but those two especially :)

  13. Thanks Craig!