Live concerts have crazy extremes of lighting, color and contrast that are beyond the photographer's control. I always underexpose so that highlights are not blown. I use Adobe Lightroom and a Wacom Intuos tablet for my editing. I make a first pass with global changes to exposure, fill-light, tint, and orange saturation to bring out the rainbow-hued background. In the second pass, I paint a combination of tint, exposure, brightness, fill-light and contrast on the subject's exposed skin (face, arms, hands, neck, etc.) to make his coloring more natural. I add additional clarity to the subjects face to emphasize his grin. I then begin a similar process of added adjustment brushes the subject's shirt, pants and shoes. Because the stage lighting was much brighter at the top of the frame than at the bottom, so I also added a graduated brightness, exposure and saturation filter that begins mid-thigh, angled at about 60 degrees. I also aggressively dodge his pants and shoes so that they do not blend in with the background. I then begin to work on the details of the background; I burn-in the lights surrounding his head to provide more detail and color. I also burn-in the musician on the back left of the frame to match the exposure of the background musician on the right. In the final stages, I add overall sharpening, luminance and color noise reduction. I then hand paint noise-reduction into the background areas will the the most fill light, as well as his lower torso.
What was your vision for your finished image?
My vision for the finished image was to compensate for the limitations of a camera, and show how I remembered the moment to be in my mind's eye: a chaotic, colorful, detailed, and joyous live portrait of Wayne Coyne of The Flaming Lips as the band performed at Bimbos 365 in San Francisco.