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Portraits: Owen Pallett

Before photographing The National at The Pageant, I had the pleasure of meeting up with musician Owen Pallett for a photo shoot. One light, a beauty dish, and a little ambient light later, here are the results.

Photographer's Notes:

Normally, I'm quite used to quick, gorilla-style shooting, but this experience was a little different. A little more than an hour before Owen was scheduled to start the show, I was introduced to him by our mutual friend Heather, who was on the tour. As a surprise to both Owen and myself, Heather informed us that we were going to be shooting a couple portraits.

There are times when living five minutes from the Pageant come in handy, and I booked it back to grab a little lighting gear while Owen changed into his stage attire.

I went into this shoot with the intent of using the Nikon 85mm f/1.4G AF-S, and the lens performed beautifully. You can read more about this lens in my extensive review.

Cameras Used:

  • Nikon D3

Lenses Used:

Lighting Gear Used:

For this shoot, I used a Nikon SB-900 as the key light on Owen, triggered via CLS by another Nikon SB-900 on-camera. For this sort of quick shoot, the speed and flexibility of CLS is beautiful.

Since we were shooting well after the sun went down and past the blue hour, the only ambient light used for these exposures were streetlights. I shot between f/1.4 and f/1.8 at around 1/40 on the Nikon D3 for this set.

End Notes:

Special thanks to Heather for setting this up and being all around awesome. Thanks to Owen for being a great subject, and thanks to Jason for assisting.

My Camera DSLR and Lenses for Concert Photography

Nikon D750:
I use two Nikon D750 for my live music photography. Amazing high ISO performance in a compact body with tons of pro features.
nikon-24-70mm-f28-lens-squareNikon 24-70mm f/2.8:
For most gigs, the 24-70mm is my go-to lens. Exceptional image quality at wide apertures and super-functional range.
Nikon-70-200-squareNikon 70-200mm f/2.8 VR:
A perfect pair to the Nikon 24-70mm f/2.8, I can basically shoot any job with the midrange and this lens. Superb image quality.
nikon-14-24mm-f28-lens-squareNikon 14-24mm f/2.8:
Ultra-wide perspective, ridiculously sharp even wide open at f/2.8. I love using this lens up-close and personal, where it excels.
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There are 23 comments

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  1. Brad

    Hi Todd,

    I love your work! Just curious…. when you shoot portraits at night with streetlights as ambient light (or under any non-daylight balanced light), do you gel your speedlights to balance? If so, what did you use in these portraits?

    Thanks a ton for posting. Keep up the great work.


    • Todd

      Hey Brad,

      With these portraits, I didn’t gel the lights as I wanted that warm look from the lamps in contrast to the more neutral flash light.

      Thanks for the kind words.

  2. groovehouse

    I shot Owen at the Houston House of Blues (not a portrait session) when he toured with The National. His music was beautiful and haunting. I got some great stage shots too!

    You got some fantastic portraits. The bokeh from the city lights is wonderful. Another fine job!

    • Todd

      Hi groovehouse,

      Yes, Owen makes amazing music. I recall seeing him years ago when I first started shooting shows – it was great to see his music find a wider audience. Also caught him a couple years ago when he was on tour with Bloc Party, too.

      Thanks for the comment.

  3. Ryleigh

    I really love your work (: What are some of the things you do when you direct your subjects on how to pose? Directing is always the area I have trouble in.

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