Little Dragon

Little Dragon performs at Le Poisson Rouge, NYC. July 18, 2009.

For the first time in a very long time, I photographed a show like I used to; in a small club with dim lights, a fast prime lens and no photo pass. I grabbed my D3, and headed out to Le Poisson Rouge for Sweden’s trippy electronic quartet Little Dragon.

If you’ve ever wondered what some of the other Nikon color modes look like – I photographed the entire show with the camera set to “black + white” mode. All the goodies after the jump.

Little Dragon Little Dragon Little Dragon Little Dragon Little Dragon Little Dragon Little Dragon Little Dragon

I shot this set entirely with the 50mm f/1.8. Since I didn’t have a photo editor to answer to in the morning, I kept the ISO at 3200, the aperture at f/1.8 and let me shutter speed slide as low as 1/10 of a second. The lighting was perfect for the down-tempo beats but pretty awful for color photographs. Still, I’m amazed how well the D3 autofocus system functioned when presented with a near absence of light.

As I mentioned above, all of the photos were taken in black + white mode. Conversion from RAW to JPEG was courtesy of Nikon Capture NX2.  No noise reduction was used.

  1. Ever used the Black & White mode on your Nikon? Me neither until now (photos of Little Dragon at Le Poisson Rouge) —

  2. redwallphoto

    Sometimes I think it's so easy to get caught up in being required to deliver photos in color that we miss the beauty of B&W. These are gorgeous.

  3. Thanks Tasha. It was really nice to be able to photograph a performance I enjoyed without having to worry about meeting someone else's image requirements (It was nice to enjoy the process of photography without worry about “the product”).

  4. Wow, incredible photos, I can definitely see you had a bit more fun shooting for “the love.”

    “I photographed a show like I used to; in a small club with dim lights, a fast prime lens and no photo pass.”

    That's where I'm at right now. I watch & learn from your (and your brother's) sites. Take in what I can, then I dive right back into the local music scene helping out local acts get out there. (its a joy when local bands from HI take my photos off flickr & use them on their myspace's. Logo included of course) Trying to test myself shooting friends in small dive bars & zero light/red backlit clubs. It is really nice (and inspiring) to see your work on an “everyday” level, outside the huge venues and big named rock acts.

    Funny, for the last year I only had my trusty lil' Canon XT & a 50mm 1.8. Call me inexperienced, the whole time I time I thought I was shooting at 50mm, I recently learned about the 1.6 crop thing from a camera shop. Completely discombobulated the mind. My brain still hurts thinking about it.

    Thanks again for sharing! I got my injection of pure inspiration for the day.

  5. wilson333

    Hi Chris,
    Gorgeous set. What exactly is your workflow from camera to web page? You noted converting to jpeg with NX2 but is that before or after processing thru Adobe? I've been avoiding NX2 due to time constraints (ok…. impatience), but would consider it if it would yield better results.

    My workflow: D700 > Bridge > Lightroom2 > Post Pr./Convert to jpeg (in LR) > Upload to web

    Thanks for your wisdom

  6. Hi Raul,

    I'm glad you enjoyed the photos. Don't get too caught up in the crop mode or anything. Just figure out what works for you and run with it. It doesn't matter what your actual field of view is as long as it's working for you.

  7. Hi Wilson,
    I don't know how wise I am but thanks.

    My normal workflow: D3 > View NX or Adobe Bridge > develop in NX2 and convert to jpeg > Post Pr. in Photoshop > Upload to web.

    I use lightroom occasionally because it's a great program, but I use NX2 for anything high ISO as I don't like how LR renders noise for Nikon files. The output from LR is higher quality for Canon files IMHO.

    If you have specific workflow questions shoot me an email.

  8. wilson333

    So you convert to jpeg b e f o r e PS? That's interesting. Don't you want to go into PS with as much image information as possible? At what point does Noise Ninja come into play when you use it or, if at all? Also, what do you consider High ISO? 1600 and up? 3200 and up?

    I will definitely be giving NX2 another chance, to see how the 2 compare. You don't find NX2 slow and clunky? Thanks so much

  9. brownph99

    Nice stuff. Reminds me of my early days pushing Tmax 400 to 3200 for small clubs.

    I don't think I've used a straight 50mm in 15 years, but you're giving me a good reason to keep one in my bag again.

  10. Yes,

    I always convert to JPEG before PS. Not a single one of my clients has requested a TIFF file this year. In fact, most of them would be totally happy with a JPEG saved at quality level 7.

    Since buying the Nikon D3, I use Noise Ninja rarely. If I do use it, it's only on files that had a huge white balance shift in post that resulted in a lot of blue channel noise. I leave luminance noise alone completely.

    On the D3, I consider High ISO to be 3200 with ISO 1600-2000 a sweet spot.

    NX2 is very clunky compared to Lightroom, but the file quality is much higher on Nikon files.

  11. Thanks B,

    Honestly, I would prefer a 24mm or 35mm f/1.4 but I'm still waiting on Nikon to make new ones. The $95 nifty 50mm does a decent job though.

  12. elisa_photosbyelisa

    Nice set.

    I like how you showed here that all scenarios call for different things…sometimes black and white, in a dark club on a whole set is so dramatic, artistic and completely the right choice.


  13. Elisa,

    Thanks for the comment. I think it's easy for photographers to get stuck in the creative rut of doing things the same way every time; I know I do. This was a zero-pressure attempt to shoot something other than a big rock show with great lights.

  14. @igorxa i think @chrisowyoung shot an all black and white set at a small club once

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