Lately, a number of venues around town have been switching to LED stage lighting. I’ve seen them at the Revival Club, Rec Room and Massey Hall so far. From a business perspective, it makes a lot of sense. One venue told me they save about $2500 a month in hydro billings. From a photography perspective I’ve found it a challenge. While an audience might see one thing, the camera can pick up something entirely different. For example, the audience might see regular white lighting with perhaps a slight magenta skin cast, while the camera “sees” a blue cast overall with deeper magenta/purple skin. In my experience there’s no point in manually setting a white balance in camera, as venue lighting changes constantly during a performance.
I use Lightroom for 99% of my post processing work. Making individual adjustments to photos lit this way can be a nightmare, and it didn’t take me long to develop a set of presets for what struck me as the most common lighting issues at one venue in particular. I’ve included a download link below – feel free to help yourself for what seems to be the most common situation for me. I don’t think there’s any particular rocket science to this, and it’s set for my particular approach to shooting (manual settings,) which is to underexpose slightly. Your mileage may vary depending on how you shoot. You might found your images a little blown out, as the preset increases the exposure as well as making some colour adjustments. The image below is an example of an image with no adjustments at all (before) and the preset applied (no other adjustments.) Bear in mind this preset is set up specifically for the lighting conditions you see on the “before” side, it’s really just a starting point, and it’s unlikely to produce useful results in other lighting conditions. It has helped speed up my post production work though.
To use it, download the file and place it in the user presets folder in Lightroom. It’s most easily accessed in the Preferences tab for Presets. You’re welcome!