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TP: Shooting indoor concerts at small venues

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David Pk View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Quote David Pk Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Topic: TP: Shooting indoor concerts at small venues
    Posted: 12 September 2007 at 05:23
This thread has been turned into a "Talking Point" as the subject is often raised. - brettania

OK, so I am trying to improve as a photographer, and trying to better understand my camera (A100), but I'm going to be taking some photo's in a pretty challenging environment soon, and would like some advice, since I won't have all that much time to experiment once I get there.

I'm not sure where best to do that here.

It's not exactly an equipment question, and I'd like help on this before I post photos in contests/themed/open/critics/galleries. :)

I looked in knowledge base and a quick search and a scan of the index didn't appear to cover it. I also do not have permission to post there (which makes sense, but it means one more forum which isn't appropriate to my problem.)

Basically, I am looking for tips on shooting in low light, indoor, small space (ie not stadium or festival) indie rock concerts with spot lighting on a moving band. Of my lenses my 50 f1.7 is probably most appropriate. I found a themed thread on 'let's rock', and some of the shots were inside and low light, and i got some idea of the range of settings, but I could use some more advice, and I have no images to post there.

I'm not expecting answers in this forum, but can you tell me if there isn't really a space to ask for that here, or if I should, for instance, somewhat hijack the 'let's rock' thread by asking the people doing photos like the ones I want to do what their strategies were for settings? Telling me to shut up and read a book would be OK too(!), I guess :), although I'm working my way through O'Reilly's aftermarket manual, and Freeman's 'Photographer's Eye'.

[My strategy for now is to slap on the 50mm 1.7, keep it wide open, use manual mode, set ISO to about 800, and play with shutter speed until I can eliminate as much blur as a I want while still capturing some motion when/where/if I want. Trying without flash first, maybe flash/fill flash if I'm failing mid-effort.]

Or, after all of this, maybe I'm not a good searcher, although I promise I tried.

Thanks in advance,

Dave


Edited by brettania - 17 September 2007 at 01:50
 



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georgiaboy View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Quote georgiaboy Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 12 September 2007 at 06:08
Hey Dave,

Welcome to Dyxum. This really is a subject that has as many possibilities as most folks have an opinion. But, having shot a few concerts maybe I can help a little.

In the film days you had so few options that it was far more difficult, but, film was also far more forgiving in exposure latitude. This said, along came digital. With your A100 ( I own the same camera ) you have far more adjustment capabilities.

It may surprise you to find that shooting with your 50 1.7 may not be the best solution to your choices. You haven't said what other lenses you have so I'm a little ham strung to give you details.

When I shoot anything that is a moving exposure and moving subject matter shots I am usually in A mode most of the time. The amount of DOF that you will achieve is extremely limited with the 50mm. How close you can get of course would be my next question. Limited DOF can be fine but, it also can cause your end results to take on a very flat field of view. I often use a beercan (70-210 f4 constant) or MinO 100-200mm for this kind of shooting. Typically auto wb is best because the lights on the stage are usually changing color, and types (tungston, incandescent, etc.) I also mostly use: spot metering and spot focusing.

The extreme bright spotlights will obviously be changing and moving as well. Nailing things down at iso 800 may also be a problem. Try different settings here, even auto, you may be surprised that your camera can compensate quite well to these changes. I have shot using far smaller apertures than I ever guessed would have been possible.

The real bottom line is get your self a monopod and use the camersa ability to overcome the movements I use sss almost all the time. Gets a least a couple of stops before blurr.

I hope this helps a little. Again I'm sure others will prescribe their favorite way. One shoot and you'll probably develop your own. Best of luck and I hope others will follow own with even better advise.

georgiaboy
"I'm fixing a hole where the rain gets in..."
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brettania View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Quote brettania Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 12 September 2007 at 06:20

I think that the best place for this is the Open Talk forum which is not specifically about gear and is there to discuss a wider range of topics than just the Dyxum site itself. I jave moved the thread according and hope that you get some more answers Dave.

AFAIR Kiklop and Sanjuro are others who might be able to help as they have both covered concerts in relatively small environments.

-

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David Pk View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Quote David Pk Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 12 September 2007 at 06:33
Originally posted by georgiaboy georgiaboy wrote:

Hey Dave,
...
It may surprise you to find that shooting with your 50 1.7 may not be the best solution to your choices. You haven't said what other lenses you have so I'm a little ham strung to give you details.

When I shoot anything that is a moving exposure and moving subject matter shots I am usually in A mode most of the time. The amount of DOF that you will achieve is extremely limited with the 50mm. How close you can get of course would be my next question. Limited DOF can be fine but, it also can cause your end results to take on a very flat field of view. I often use a beercan (70-210 f4 constant) or MinO 100-200mm for this kind of shooting. Typically auto wb is best because the lights on the stage are usually changing color, and types (tungston, incandescent, etc.) I also mostly use: spot metering and spot focusing.

The extreme bright spotlights will obviously be changing and moving as well. Nailing things down at iso 800 may also be a problem. Try different settings here, even auto, you may be surprised that your camera can compensate quite well to these changes. I have shot using far smaller apertures than I ever guessed would have been possible.

The real bottom line is get your self a monopod and use the camersa ability to overcome the movements I use sss almost all the time. Gets a least a couple of stops before blurr.

I hope this helps a little. Again I'm sure others will prescribe their favorite way. One shoot and you'll probably develop your own. Best of luck and I hope others will follow own with even better advise.

georgiaboy


This is very helpful!   I have the following lenses:
kit sony 17-80
km 50mm 1.7
beercan 70-210 f/4

So, beercan is an option, but it requires I move somewhat back from stage, and even at 5'10", I may be stuck with holding the camera over my head and hoping for the best, unless I want to seriously crop out heads and elbows.

I should be able to get right up to stage on left or right. So, 5'-10' from performers.   At this venue, I *may* be able to get back about 10' to 30' from stage (5' greater from band), on a 6" - 2' side step, but with no guarantee that someone taller than me won't be in front of me.

I wonder if it's worth starting with the kit lens close to or *AT* stage, A mode, letting the camera choose auto iso, auto white balance, and shoot as much as I can of the opening band, and review in camera? (I typically do spot focus, but I will have to check out metering options.) For main band, I plan to shoot raw+fine, so I can always deal with WB post-processing, no?

In any case, this has made me consider greater range of iso and apertures, so it has helped a bunch. Thanks!!


And thanks brettania! for the move and the references.

best,

Dave


Edited by David Pk - 12 September 2007 at 06:45
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georgiaboy View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Quote georgiaboy Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 12 September 2007 at 07:17
You are now free to begin your concert shooting career. lol :) Just remember in all this adjustments stuff, don't forget to have loads of fun!

georgiaboy

PS: When shooting concerts fire off lots of shots, you will find some fine keepers I'm sure.

Edited by georgiaboy - 12 September 2007 at 07:18
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Post Options Post Options   Quote wyip Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 12 September 2007 at 08:20
One thing that bugs me about photographers at small concerts is the use of flash. I like that you're starting with no flash at first - this is how I have shot concerts. Maybe I'm just a snob? But before you decide to use flash, make sure it's ok with the venue/band.

IMO zooms are nicer for this type of shooting, because you usually aren't as free to move about and recompose as you like... well, depending on how big the venue is and how crowded it gets. My favorite lens to use at small concerts was the Minolta 28-75mm f/2.8. 35-70mm f/4 was also good (plus its small and cheap) but obviously more limiting.

You definitely should shoot primarily from the sides and also right up front - this is more difficult at shows where a mosh pit is expected and/or there is no barricade at the front; if there is a barricade, you'll probably need a pass to hang out up there. Obviously, mellow or sparse crowds are best for being right up front and center with your camera.

Some mid-size venues have an upper level or balcony... try to take advantage of this if possible to get a different perspective. If you live in San Francisco, I could probably give you more venue specific information.

Don't forget to bring extra storage (use as much as you can) and batteries. And of course have fun.

Edited by wyip - 12 September 2007 at 08:23
a7 | 24-70 | 70-300 | 55
 



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nigelbrooks View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Quote nigelbrooks Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 12 September 2007 at 08:26
I acted as 'kit man' to my son when he was shooting a jazz flautist recently.

The thing I picked up on he night.

Get there early, possiby during the sound/lighting check, you can get some interesting shots and familiarise yourself with the lighting.

Ask if you can get stage side - you will get shots from interesting angles.

Take two shots (at least) of everything, it's amazing how the changing light can turn an average shot into something 'interesting'.

Don't be afriad of extreme close ups, two of the best shots we have of the evening is of the keyboard player's hands reflected in his equipment and of the light reflecting off of the flautist's face.

Buy some earplugs!

Hope this helps and, have fun.

Edited by nigelbrooks - 12 September 2007 at 08:27
I've been away!
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Post Options Post Options   Quote Themisa Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 12 September 2007 at 08:41
Hello Dave,

Also use the 17-80 when you have not that much room to work in (I did a "garage-rock" shoot once with the 11-18, because of the size of the room...so)

When you work with the 70-210, go manual if necessary, because the lens will hunt in low light when you use AF and than "the moment" could be gone.

Go to "garyfriedmanarchives.com" and buy the A100 book, you will get some very good tips on shooting concerts. That book is really a "must have", because of the perfect tips you can get out of it.

Shoot as many pics as you can !!! and have a lot of fun !! (do you need earplugs ??)

Good luck, Theo (and if you want to....share some pics with us, thanks)
I'm back... using the A57...Have a nice day everyone...
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Post Options Post Options   Quote eddyizm Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 12 September 2007 at 09:00
David Pk

I enjoy shooting indie bands as well and have used my 50 once, but the extra aperture is not really worth it.

i've found my best work is with my tamron 17-50 2.8 - with no flash,
and also in a big venue, i've used my sigma 90 with flash -
i'll admit though, i prefer to bump up the iso and then convert to b&w - shot a whole show with the a100 on 1600 - the conversion and noise look very authentic, but someone else would call it trash - depends on what you are after and i think the band/music makes a big difference too.

I have to say though, in certain conditions, you will simply fail to get a perfectly sharp and well exposed shot, so why try? I think most of the comments above also echo the theme of having fun, knowing your environment and find the shots that work, you'll be more relaxed with experience but don't try so hard!

if you want/can use flash, becareful not to blow things out, especially if you are close to the artist/stage, bounce the flash and underexpose so that the flash fills ambient room and doesn't make your subject look like a ghost in a black room.

iso 1600 / 17mm @2.8 / 1/8sec - no flash b&w conversion in lightroom (100% luminance noise reduction)


contact me and i'll be happy to send you some more samples and answer more questions
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Post Options Post Options   Quote Wordfreak Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 12 September 2007 at 09:27
"garyfriedmanarchives.com" doesn't load. Sure you got the url right?

You've got some great advice here so far. I've shot numerous concerts with my a100 and usually take along both the 70-210 f4 (Beercan) and my Minolta 28-70 2.8 lenses. If I can't use flash and it's really dim lighting, I'll whip out my 50mm 1.7 Minolta too. If ever you use flash, bounce it off the ceiling so as not to blind or startle the musicians.

Always keep earplugs in your pocket or kit bag. Sometimes you can't avoid being directly in front of the PA for a minute or two. I often take out my earplugs during the encore though. Minimize your hearing loss and maximize your enjoyment.

Another important aspect to shooting in small venues is not to disrupt the rest of the audience. Be respectful of their view of the stage and make eye contact with them before jumping in front of them. Even if only for a second or two. Smile at the band in between shots. They may give you a good rockstar pose later on.

Good luck and have fun!

You can check out some of my concert photography on my flickr site:
http://flickr.com/photos/wordfreak/collections/72157600011781425/
Sony: A6000, a700, HVL-F56AM; Minolta: 28-75 2.8, 50mm 1.7 RS, 50mm 3.5 macro, 70-210 f4; Tokina: 100-300 f4 AT-X 340 AF-II; Carl Zeiss: 85mm 1.4, Touit 12mm 2.8, Touit 32mm 1.8; Sigma: 19mm 2.8
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Post Options Post Options   Quote eldonito Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 12 September 2007 at 10:18
The thing about stage lighting is that it can change very quickly... the trick is to find an exposure solution that works well (i.e., most of the time) and use it on M mode when the lighting becomes right. The good thing about the beercan in low-lighting is that you're rarely going to come across CA at wide apertures:

This one was beercan at f/4, 1/125 s, ISO 800:


And this one at f/5, 1/50 s, ISO 800:


These were taken at a festival though, and you may find the focal length to be unsuitable for more intimate concerts.

Conversely, you might be disappointed with the 50/1.7 wide open; I'd recommend f/2.2 or narrower as the stage will be bright enough for it (for sharpness), and of course always remember to shut DRO off when using high ISO's and shooting JPEGs.
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Post Options Post Options   Quote brettania Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 12 September 2007 at 10:56

The correct URL for Gary's books is here.
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Post Options Post Options   Quote Maffe Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 12 September 2007 at 13:12
I like using fast primes for indoor conserts, sometimes I use 28-70/2.8.
Flash is no option for me.
Why prime and not Zoom?
Use a prime and be creative, pays off when you take the shot that you would not see with a zoom on your camera

100/2, if my memory is correct


Takumar 50/1.4, if my memory is correct


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Post Options Post Options   Quote CKsam2 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 12 September 2007 at 15:59
My girlfriend does a fair bit of live music photography and has settled on a 24/2.8 and 50/1.7. There are some live photos in the music section on her site here. Here are a couple of my favourites:







Edited by CKsam2 - 12 September 2007 at 16:04
Part of the Sheffield Minolta minority.
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