Operated by John-Riley Harper. Dedicated to archiving photography from Utah's underground scenes, as well as other personal projects.

Infected Mushroom in SLC
Click the image above for Infected Mushroom show photos in SLC. The show was off the hook: my arms are sore from relentlessly, joyously trying to punch the air above my head, I can barely walk, and going down stairs hurts. Unfortunately, their contract stated that photos weren't allowed during the set, so the shots above represent build and anticipation.

For people who read this site for information on how to light and photograph raves, shows, and clubs, I've had a few thought that I wanted to share. Photographing this show was unusually challenging, and so I've been thinking about how to get better results in similar situations.

The problem with the Infected Show was that the fog machines were just pump-pump-pumping non stop. When there is that much fog, it interferes with light from any direction and destroys contrast. Usually there are down-time moments when the fog lifts and good, clear shots can be made. Fog itself generally is both a bane and a boon because, although it makes the lighting look great, it's hard to see people. If anyone has come back from a party with a roll full of white clouds, you know what I mean.

A decent way to reduce the effects of smoke or fog is to light subjects from the side. Using an on-camera flash shows every foggy particle and is why most rave and club photos are simply ruined by its blatant visibility. Light bounces off fog microdust and straight back into the camera, so you SEE every particle. From the side, only a sliver of the surface area is reflected back into the lens. You wouldn't want to backlight, either, as that would create a halo around each fog particle, creating contrast destruction much like a frontally lit image.

An interesting photo usually provides many different details about an environment: texture, atmosphere, lighting, detail, and contrast, as well as emotion and subject matter. What fog can do is give the idea of a thick atmosphere as well as bring out vibrancy in the lights. So, it would be very useful to be able to compose an image so that fog is located in less interesting areas but is out of the way of any photographic subjects that you want. If you look at the following picture, you can see that the haze is there but subjects still are visible.

My second thought relates to the strobe setup I'm using. An 'advantageous' side-effect of using the very piss-poor st-e2 wireless transmitter is that one is constantly flirting with “the happy accident.” What I'm saying is that quite often what is in my head and what would make a perfect photograph is ruined by one of the external strobes failing to trigger. But take this image:
In a perfect world I would have wanted the foreground lit. But, the strobe didn't fire, so I got, accidentally, some interesting silhouettes. I know that this image isn't by any stretch perfect, but it's given me some ideas on how to bring the ideas of silhouette and form into the photographic piece. It seems that interesting hairstyles and shapes could be used to frame a lit subject area, and also create a kind of interaction.

So anyway, silhouette framing seems like it might have some potential. I'd encourage anyone to give it a shot.

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