Photography at Concerts

Photography at Concerts

17 posts
7 Jan 2014
rodandthefaces
Photographer
rodandthefac..
I own a digital camera and wonder whether it is possible to obtain correctly exposed images by using the camera in automatic mode, or does the camera always need to set to manual mode and shoot at the wide possible aperature?
I guess I could shoot at different aperatures, ie bracket the shots. Personally,I find that that when white stage lighting is used, the images are better.

NORMALLY, FOR MY OWN PEACE OF MIND, I TAKE A SLR TO CONCERTS. CLEARLY DIGITAL PHOTOGRAPHY HAS TAKEN OVER AND PRODUCES THE BEST IMAGES, PROVIDED THE SETTINGS ARE CORRECT. IT IS A BIT OF A GUESSING GAME.

Posted 8 Jan 2014
Andy_B
Photographer
Andy_B
It's important to know how your camera works and what you're trying to achieve with it.

If your aim is to produce high quality images with high sharpness (ie low camera shake) and low noise, then an optimal formula would be moderate ISO + fast lens pretty much wide open + moderate (not too low) shutter. Check the camera exposure/histogram to ensure that as much of the dynamic range of the sensor is used. On a modern DSLR you can actually go to a reasonably high ISO and get good results; personally I prefer to accept some high ISO noise rather rather than seeing camera shake.

This can be achieved using manual mode, using aperture priority or using program-shift mode and shifting to favour wide aperture. Any of these approaches is fine, and you're no better or lesser a photographer if you choose one over another.

However, from your post it's clear that you do have some learning to do with regards to your camera, and experimenting with full manual is a good way to force yourself to learn. Additionally, full manual will probably deliver more consistent results across different coloured lighting - which may be throwing the auto modes off and giving you inconsistent exposure at the moment.
Posted 8 Jan 2014
Edited by Andy_B 7 Jan 2014
mph
Photographer
mph
You could always try it and see. As a semi-professional it shoud not take you too long to work it out.

Posted 8 Jan 2014
Edited by mph 8 Jan 2014
profilepictures
Photographer
profilepictu..
Its a heap less of a guessing game than using an slr surely? Have I misinterpreted this post entirely, are you a regular concert photographer?

Posted 8 Jan 2014
digimarx
Photographer
digimarx
You can get good shots in Auto mode, but that depends on the lighting being static

Also, if security finds you're bringing in slr cameras without the right credentials, they might confiscate the camera (or ask you to check it in with the box office)

Posted 8 Jan 2014
Edited by digimarx 8 Jan 2014
DKirk
Photographer
DKirk
White stage lighting, generally can be quite rare (unless performance is being filmed either for DVD or relayed to screens around the stage).
Generally 800 for film speed, f2.8 up to f8, shutter speed will vary from 1/500 down (depending on lighting set up ~ those Mac lights can knock the pots off those par cans (no space, autocorrect keeps changing some of the terms I use. . . ) you see in smaller venues).
Best bet is spot-meter, and use aperture priority.

Posted 8 Jan 2014
stolenfaces
Photographer
stolenfaces
It depends on the venue, the type of concert, and what you are trying to capture. It is unlikely that you will get consistently good shots on auto. My magazine 98 Wounds features a lot of live photos which all list exposure information. Most of the shots are at tiny-medium venues in London. My photos are taken on d800 almost invariably at 6400asa. The pics taken by Keira are taken on a D5mkII generally at 3200asa http://issuu.com/98wounds
Posted 8 Jan 2014
Edited by stolenfaces 8 Jan 2014
Depending on who and where you are potentially breaking the artists and designers copyright. Most theatres and venues will have no photography signs to this effect. If you are working as an official photographer you may have an opportunity to attend the sound check but there is no guarantee that the lights will be run at that time unless agreed. If they are you can check levels. The lights you describe as white are generally 5500 kelvin (daylight) arc lamps. Therefore if the main artists are in follow spots or moving lights un coloured you should set to daylight and let the tungsten and other colours take care of themselves. The average follow spot at medium range will probably give you between F4-F8 at 125/60s so either bracket exposures or set an aperture and change speed to get suitable exposures.
David

Posted 8 Jan 2014
stolenfaces
Photographer
stolenfaces
Discretion
Depending on who and where you are potentially breaking the artists and designers copyright. Most theatres and venues will have no photography signs to this effect. If you are working as an official photographer you may have an opportunity to attend the sound check but there is no guarantee that the lights will be run at that time unless agreed. If they are you can check levels. The lights you describe as white are generally 5500 kelvin (daylight) arc lamps. Therefore if the main artists are in follow spots or moving lights un coloured you should set to daylight and let the tungsten and other colours take care of themselves. The average follow spot at medium range will probably give you between F4-F8 at 125/60s so either bracket exposures or set an aperture and change speed to get suitable exposures. David
What sort of concert is that ?
Posted 8 Jan 2014
Professional concerts.

Posted 8 Jan 2014
stolenfaces
Photographer
stolenfaces
Discretion
Professional concerts.
As opposed to? School concerts? What sort of content are you talking about ?
Posted 8 Jan 2014
Edited by stolenfaces 8 Jan 2014
RedChecker
Photographer
RedChecker
stolenfaces

As opposed to? School concerts? What sort of content are you talking about ?


How many schools do you think could afford HMI lighting?

It's probably only viable for use on commercial (eg. pop/rock concerts or major theatre) productions, smaller venues will simply use tungsten due to its cheapness.
Posted 8 Jan 2014
Edited by RedChecker 8 Jan 2014
stolenfaces
Photographer
stolenfaces
RedChecker
How many schools do you think could afford HMI lighting? It's probably only viable for use on commercial (eg. pop/rock concerts or major theatre) productions, smaller venues will simply use tungsten due to its cheapness.
Most smaller venues in London now use LED lighting (presumably due to electricity and bulb costs). His concerts sound pretty pedestrian if he is recommending bracketing. [obviously I wasn't suggesting that he was photographing School Concerts, I was asking him how his answer specified anything. All of the gigs I go to are 'professional' and nothing like the ones he seems to frequent]
Posted 8 Jan 2014
Edited by stolenfaces 8 Jan 2014
rodandthefaces
Photographer
rodandthefac..
Discretion
Professional concerts.
Some artists are more well known than others which I have photographed.
Posted 2 June 2014
Photoimager
Photographer
Photoimager
Too many variables in terms of concert genre, camera type and metering and lighting. There is no 'one size fits all. You need to know your gear, know your photography skills and adapt to the situation. At one 3-day festival event I found the stage floor gave a good custom WB and spot exposure reading - until the third day by which time it had muddied up somewhat.

Whoever is organising the event has the right to set controls on photography. If you are just going along on a chance do not think you have the right to take photographs.

Prince got it right. He told his audience to experience his concert in person, not via their digital devices.

Posted 28 June 2014
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