Ruby Rooms and Red Lights
It’s a universally acknowledged truth that red light sucks. Almost every photographer I’ve spoken to loathes that song or section in a set where someone decides that the band need to be lit in atmospheric tones of scarlet, crimson, or carmine. As a fan of heavy metal, I would urge otherwise – bathe your lyrics in blood, not the stage. Not only do you wear out the eyes of the audience, you drive the photographer to drink.
Back on September 30th last year I headed to a gig in Shibuya. Kiss the World were playing at the Ruby Room that and I knew that members of the rather awesome defspiral would be making guest appearances alongside DIE and MAD. However, a typhoon was sweeping the length of Japan, heading straight for Tokyo that very night. The train lines were threatening to close and most people were remaining safe in doors. After much indecision, I chose to brave the wind and the chance of not getting home to get to the show. Of course, the other thing that was bothering me was that the Ruby Room is as it’s name suggests – a venue lit heavily on the side of sanguine.
I was wracking my brains for how to deal with the lighting. Underexposing wasn’t an option as the venue is extremely underlit and my camera would not cope. I had no filters, and adjusting the white balance seemed to have little effect. Flash was out, and there was no lighting guy to bribe with booze. So, rather than lose everything in a data-fog of overblown maroons and rusts, I switched to black and white mode. Whilst the results were far from the best photos I’ve ever taken, I still like some of the images. I’ve included some of the better “rubescent” photos so you can see what I was up against, alongside the monochrome.
The man I want to be when I grow up – Todd Owyoung – has a brief tutorial on red lights which you can read here. As suggested in the comments, shooting in RAW can help but trying to get it fixed at the point of shooting saves a lots of tears in Lightroom later.
You can read the live report and see more photos here.