Concert shooting - tips?

Discussion in 'Open Discussion' started by Poki, Sep 12, 2013.

  1. Poki

    Poki TalkEmount Hall of Famer

    Aug 30, 2011
    Hi all,

    I got just contacted by a local band if I can shoot their gigs friday (tomorrow) and saturday as their usual photographer doesn't have time. I said I'll do my best, but I never shot a concert, so do you have any tips?

    I probably take only my NEX-5 and the 24mm f/1.8 lens with me - changing lenses in such a mass of people ain't easy ... I hope I can get away with f/1.8 at ISO 3200. This could be a problem especially at friday, because the place they play is pretty darn dark. Light shouldn't be as big of a problem saturday, but the location looks a lot more boring. In both cases, I can go right to the stage without problems, but as the stage is pretty small I can't get on the stage without interrupting them. I don't want to use a flash as this usually destroys the ambient light totally. Do you think I'm okay with this?

    And - Steve Huff once recommended only shooting the first 2 - 3 songs a band performs because they are most powerful then. Any experiences whether that's true?

    Thank you for any help, I really don't want to get back to them without a few good pictures, and for me as a landscape photographer that's a whole different world, you know. Oh, and if you shot a concert, please don't hesitate to post pictures here with settings and how you made them!
  2. NickCyprus

    NickCyprus Super Moderator

    Oct 11, 2012
    You are way more experienced and talented photographer than me so I can't really offer any advice but IIRC Kevin here aka "Deadbear77" is very knowledgeable regarding this type of low light concert shooting - maybe he'll chime in ;) 

    I think the 24mm would be good (since its quite fast too) but if it were me I would probably also take a longer lens (eg. 50mm)

    Looking forward to the photos soon (and I'm sure you'll do great) ;) 
  3. Poki

    Poki TalkEmount Hall of Famer

    Aug 30, 2011
    Thanks for your help and your kind words, Nick! You're right, I'd like to bring a longer lens - but unfortunately, the only longer lens I own atm is the kit zoom, and f/5.6 is not really usable, I'm afraid.

    The second problem is it's pretty much the opposite of what I usually do - shooting alone in the dark with plenty of time to set everything up. I'm a bit nervous whether I can handle this situation while still getting great pictures. Oh, and this time I also shoot for somebody else, so there's pressure I usually try to avoid in photography. I plan on using everything I know about post processing to save what I can, but without good files to start with, that's worth nothing.

    I already researched a bit now, and there are some incredibly awesome concert shots out there - if I can get one shot per gig that comes close to such a quality I'm happy. :) 
  4. Deadbear77

    Deadbear77 TalkEmount Hall of Famer Subscribing Member

    Sep 14, 2012
    Northeast Ohio
    If you know the band and their songs it makes taking the pics easy. If you know when the instrumental breaks are it helps also. I always like to shoot during my least favorite songs to I can enjoy taking the pics and also relax and listen when I want to.

    I mostly shoot with a fast 50, minolta or canon.

    Recently using the rokinon 85 1.4

    I also have the zeiss 24 but its a bit too wide for my liking for a show unless I'm shooting behind the band and into the crowd for the "on stage look"

    Zeiss will make most of you shots look like your looking up the nose of the band members. Especially if the stage is raised up quite a bit.

    My suggestion if you can barrow a lens I would. Or take the kit. It's not horrible. You can bump up the ISO to 6400 and shoot black and white if need be. It ends up looking like decent film grain.

    The zeiss should be able to shoot at 2.2 ISO 800 without a problem in low light and still have everything pretty sharp.

    I've used the 55-210 for some shows too. It works well at 1600-3200 in good concert lighting.

    Any questions feel free to ask. I'm not perfect but I've shot a lot of shows.

    Sent from my iPhone using TalkNEX mobile app
  5. Deadbear77

    Deadbear77 TalkEmount Hall of Famer Subscribing Member

    Sep 14, 2012
    Northeast Ohio
    Here is a jpeg OOC shot at ISO 6400 low light probably at f2.0

    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
  6. Deadbear77

    Deadbear77 TalkEmount Hall of Famer Subscribing Member

    Sep 14, 2012
    Northeast Ohio
    Another shot at 1600 1/80 f2.8


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
    • Like Like x 1
  7. Poki

    Poki TalkEmount Hall of Famer

    Aug 30, 2011
    Thanks Kevin, great shots and I really appreciate your help! I'll probably get away with the kit lens at saturday, but at the location tomorrow it's -really- dark, I doubt the kit zoom can do any good there. Still, I can get about one and a half meter close to the band, and the stage is only about half a meter higher than the floor, so I hope this will work out.

    I think I'll start with aperture priority, manual focus, center weighted metering, no flash, 8fps burst mode, auto white balance and of course RAW. Sounds about right to me, but finding the right angles will be much harder for a newb like me anyway.

    Edit: Forgot to mention - there's not a single place where you can borrow lenses in my whole country, so sadly, that's not an option.
  8. izTheViz

    izTheViz TalkEmount Top Veteran

    May 10, 2013
    Yannis Marigo

    Don't forget to use the spot metering if it's dark. Keep aperture priority and shutter speed greater than 1/focal (incl
    crop factor)
    Take the widest lens you have. Start at iso 800. Ideally a fast 50mm.

    Good luck
  9. Lucille

    Lucille TalkEmount Veteran

    May 22, 2013
    I shot a lot of stage musicians, in darkness. I never use flash, as I often fire many shots and a flash going off all the time is rather distracting to the musicians, as I am usually close to the stage, if not onstage....

    try and keep a shutter speed of 1/200 or faster so your subject isn't blurry. (depending on movement you may get away with slower) BE very careful of to slow of a shutter speed, you might have images looking okay on the lcd screen only to find out they are blurry on your bigger computer monitor...zoom in on one of you pictures to ensure they are sharp and in focus..

    I often like to shoot wide open, and I love the Zeiss 24mm f/1.8, it is very much to my liking.... I try and keep iso as low as possible, but sometimes you must bump it up..

    Here are some shots with my Nex 3n and Zeiss 24mm f/1.8:

    ISO1600, f/2.0, 1/160 sec

    ISO800, f/1.8, 1/160 sec

    Here are some more misc. shots with the 35mm focal length....






    Again, I LOVE 35mm...... don't be afraid to use the digital zoom function or whatever its called, you call then get 50mm/75mm cropped images, and the quality is useable, as some of the images above are using the digital zoom..

    I get many angles, partial shots, full stage shots, and onstage shots, locally I am well known for this...

  10. Deadbear77

    Deadbear77 TalkEmount Hall of Famer Subscribing Member

    Sep 14, 2012
    Northeast Ohio
    Yeah forgot to say speed is essential. Gladly have a little grain and sharp instead of soft and blurry.

    Sent from my iPhone using TalkNEX mobile app
  11. ChangshaNotes

    ChangshaNotes Super Moderator Subscribing Member

    Aug 15, 2012
    I've never done it so no advice Poki. Just wanted to wish you luck.

  12. Poki

    Poki TalkEmount Hall of Famer

    Aug 30, 2011
    Thank you all. I also talked to Chris Owyoung (a well known concert photographer) who said I'm okay with 24mm, I just 'won't get much variety', so I'll take the kit zoom just in case. I think with your help I figured out everything technically, now the challenge can come. :s
  13. TonyTurley

    TonyTurley TalkEmount Hall of Famer

    Apr 24, 2013
    West Virginia, USA
    Those are great, Lucille. Shows what a top quality lens can do in the right hands.

  14. Poki

    Poki TalkEmount Hall of Famer

    Aug 30, 2011
    Hmm... though now for some time whether I should use AF. As I have to half-press the shutter button and recompose anyway 'cos of the spot metering it wouldn't take additional time, but I'm not sure if the AF can handle this. Well, I'll see.
  15. Poki

    Poki TalkEmount Hall of Famer

    Aug 30, 2011
    Hey guys, just finished editing the shots from friday and started with the shots from yesterday. I'll post some in a separate thread when I finished them, but once again - thank you all. It was a great experience and it helped getting the technical problems out of the way before.
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