I first heard Holly Miranda opening for Tegan and Sara back in February. I enjoyed her opening set as much as, or more than, the headliners, and bought her album when it came out a few days later. I liked it enough to go back for more when Holly and her band returned to DC, this time in the much more intimate confines of the Black Cat backstage.
I did a quick portrait shoot with Holly before the show; luckily, I had the chance to take a lot of time scouting a good location and setting up a lighting treatment while the band was soundchecking. I came up with a three-light setup using a bunch of folding tables sitting in a freight elevator as my background. In this first shot, I’m nuking the ambient light with an SB-800 through a 1/4″ grid spot at camera right aimed at Holly’s face; this is more or less the main light. For fill I used an SB-600 with a shoot-through umbrella and a 1/2 CTB gel at high camera left; finally, lighting the background is an SB-600 through a blue gel (primary blue, not CTB), flagged to prevent flare into the camera lens.
Holly said, “I like creepy,” and so I also did this:
Here, I exposed to bring the ambient way up, though I still intentionally underexposed by over 2 stops and then brought it up further in post to give it a particularly gritty feel. The only strobe that’s really in play is the SB-800, which provides a bit of clean light on her face and upper body. There’s a bit of light from the background SB-600 as well to keep everything from becoming a total orange wash.
And, bonus! Holly tweeted a photo of me taking this shot. The lesson to learn from this (other than, to take interesting photos, get on the floor!): notice the roll of black gaffer’s tape on the stool next to me. This is maybe the key piece of gear at every shoot, aside from the camera and the lights. Never leave home without it!
I also shot the show, of course, and while the Black Cat’s lighting doesn’t compare to the Warner Theatre’s (I got some seriously gorgeous photos from that show), I still got some decent stuff and the performance was fantastic. I wrote a few words about it over at the City Paper.