Following a ferocious set by White Denim, for a moment the Duckroom seems to lapse into restlessness; it's approaching 10pm on a Monday night, the venue is wrapped in a damp chill, and only the first of three bands has played. However, without fanfare, two drum kits are being assembled on stage, and the crowd at the front is beginning to perk up. A few minutes after the hour, White Rabbits are bring the double drums, the double singers, the double rock, and suddenly we've forgotten what time it is.
The six-piece band seemed a little cramped on the narrow stage, but they don't really seem to mind, and besides, there was no time to bother. The White Rabbits set into a comfortable pace and, other than an awkward pause in the set due to some technical difficulties, the band generates a great vibe among the smokey, dim confines of the Duckroom.
The Duckroom is a subterranean lair of a venue that just happens to book great bands. While I was a litte hesitant to bring the new D3 and accouterments to the smokey dive, I was also curious to see how the new camera would stack up against the dimmest of dim venues.
There's no pit in the small club, so I staked out my spot at the front of the stage and shot as I pleased. With places like the Duckroom, there is never a restriction on cameras or limits to shooting.
Lighting for the show came from two arrays at the front and back of the stage. The front strip cast mostly warm white light that died down to a dim orange cast for White Rabbits' set. From the back, the cans featured red and blue gels, along with a few unfiltered sources casting a little weak warm light.
There weren't so much lighting scheme changes as there were “low” and “lower” settings on the dimmer switch.
I shot with the Nikon 24-70mm f/2.8 for most of this set, supplementing it with the 85mm f/1.4 when I wanted just a little more reach. Beyond that, I was pleased that I didn't need to reach for the other primes.
I shot at ISO 6400 at f/2.8 and 1/160 with the zoom and at 1/200 and f/2 with the telephoto prime. Given the fairly constant lighting, locking the exposure down and just firing away a straight forward task.
Even though the lighting wasn't really that dim, the actual quality of the light was pretty mundane. For almost all shows at the Duckroom, I go in with the expectation that I'm going to convert the images to monotone, and White Rabbits was no exception.
I processed these shots with a conversion to b&w with a slightly warm toning and left the noise reduction moderate to bring up a little grain in the finished web images.
Previously with the Nikon D2x, even f/1.4 primes were necessary for even the best lit performances in the Duckroom. While the lighting didn't last for the headlining set by the Walkmen, I was pleased to be able to shoot with the f/2.8 midrange zoom for this set.
While my favorite venues are a little larger and have better air circulation, the Duckroom books a great calendar, and it's a fine place for a more relaxed set of shooting.
For anyone looking to start out with music photography, I heavily encourage you to find a smaller venue like this where you can shoot and build up a portfolio. While the lighting isn't ideal, if you can shoot in dives like the Duckroom, you can shoot anywhere.