This one goes back quite a ways to my times shooting for the Marietta Daily Journal in scenic Marietta, GA. This was my first ever photo job (the paper, not the concert) and I learned by being thrown into the deep end.  It was about a year into working there (six months at the smaller weekly and six at the Daily) when I was given the opportunity to shoot the band Third Day with my Photo Chief from the weekly paper, who seems to have dropped off the face of the planet since. I was stoked, I’d shot my first concert pretty recently and had managed to not screw it up, but came away with a whole load of corrections to my technique (many related to not shooting every lens at 1/40 of a second… pretty hard to nail an un-stabilized 200mm at that speed).

Armed with new knowledge and shooting with someone who knew what they were doing, I headed to the photo pit in front of the stage for our “first three songs, no flash” allowance. It was a bit of a rush being that close to the band in an arena that seats 13,000 (it felt like more) and the sound turned all the way up. It was awesome and I got some interesting shots (I think, or thought as now some don’t strike me as all that spectacular). This image is one of my favorites and whilst sharing it with Alfie over a beer after a class, he mentioned that he thought it would present better in monochrome. He pointed out the colored blocks around the guitar and how they draw the eye away from the real focus: the face. I’d only ever processed it in color as that was what the paper wanted and he offered to take a whack at the RAW file and show me what he would do. I gotta say, he’s right that it looks better in monochrome and taking inspiration from his results, I reprocessed the file to where I was happy.

A few details about the file, I was shooting with my ancient 1D -that’s right, no Mark- at ISO 1000. It was an awesome camera and with plenty of light or low res output (newsprint) it really shined, but my god, when you had to stretch the shadows on a high ISO file, it just fell apart in front of your eyes. Still does. I had metered to maintain the highlights, but sacrificed detail in the shadows. As a result, half the guitarist’s face is hidden unless you stray into that garden of noise. So without any further ado, here are the original color file, an “out of camera” (using the camera profile that Canon applies to the RAW) monochrome and a monochrome that I recently processed using Photoshop and Topaz DeNoise.

Many thanks to Alfie at Japanorama for inspiring this return to the early stuff and for taking the time to run some processing himself!

Click the thumbnails for larger imges! From left: Original, Canon preset, Alfie inspired re-edit and an un-processed look at the noise at 100% zoom.

Also, if you don’t like the change to thumbnails, let me know, but I’m pretty happy with how it works.