The Writings

Paperhaus at the Rock & Roll Hotel


Maybe I have a romanticism for bohemians like musicians or artists. Perhaps it's a love affair with the idea of supporting local upstarts and talent. Whatever it is, I can't help but enjoy aiding and assisting those who have big dreams and are starting out. It could be the whole "been there, done that, bought the t-shirt" thing, but because I had a lot of help when I was at the beginning of my career - and pursuit of happiness - I feel it's only right to pay it forward. So when I see a talented group of guys like Paperhaus, I am compelled to show my support. It's that whole "what goes around, comes around" bit, right?

It was a nice send off show for the band, who I was happy to shoot at the final show of the Red Palace on H Street. I came better prepared this time, bringing the film camera, but also packing the digital gear along for the ride, as well. Paperhaus was preparing for their new EP, set to be released soon, and hosted a party with a slew of local and up-and-coming artists, and I was happy to photograph the experience!


First of all, man, oh man! It was DARK in there! Most of these low key music venues tend to not have an elaborate lighting display, but Rock & Roll Hotel does a photographer NO favors with theirs! It's going to require some good glass and a bit of noise reduction. Ok, a LOT of noise reduction. For this shoot, I had my trusty Canon 7D and shot strictly with the Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8 II USM Zoom lens. The reasoning is because I knew I would be so close to the stage that anything else would be either too tight or too wide for what I wanted. The 24-70mm is just too perfect to capture full shots or even tightly-cropped portraits when you're only a few feet away from the band performing on such a low stage.

Because the lighting was so dark, majority of the time, I was shooting with the aperture nearly as wide as it can go (2.8-3.2) at a 2000-3200 ISO and roughly a 1/125 - 1/250 shutter speed. I hate going too high on the ISO because of the noise, and thankfully, even at 1/125th, I don't get too much blur; when I do, it's kind of a nice addition to the action, in my opinion. I still have a bit of trouble getting the right focus on the drummer through the drum kit, but because he was a lot closer for this show, I had a little better luck.

Did I mention it was dark? As a result, it was tricky getting the right focus because the camera didn't want to acknowledge anything was there in front of me! I did a lot of manual focusing in the dark, which I don't think I would have the confidence to do if it wasn't for shooting with a manual film camera these past few months. Because the venue seemed keen to use a lot of blue lights, and maybe only three or four lights total, the resulting images turned out dark and moody. It seemed a bit unfitting for a lot of Paperhaus' music, but what do I know? I'm no light technician, right?

Lightroom 4 once again came to the rescue, with its great noise reduction filter and ease of culling and editing photos. It makes me wonder how I ever used to dislike this program. And surprisingly, only a few exposure and fill light tweaks were needed to get the shots to look how I wanted them to appear. I certainly can't get mad about that!

Overall, I'm glad that I was able to attend and support Paperhaus, who are a very talented group of gentlemen. Even better, they launched a Kickstarter campaign that has successfully been funded to help these guys pay for the costs it takes to go on the road for two months straight. Looking at their schedule, it's going to be non-stop performing, and I am beyond excited for them to be able to go forth and pursue their dreams! I think that's a cause I can totally get behind... it's like that story speaks to me on some level... hmm...

Anyway, I wish them nothing but the best while they're on tour and look forward to their EP!

Until next time,

- Patrick