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Author Topic: Advice  (Read 10207 times)
LukeH
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« on: January 12, 2009, 07:55:05 PM »
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I have landed work photographing a band live onstage and was wondering if anybody out there had any tips or advice for doing this?
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wollom
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« Reply #1 on: January 13, 2009, 11:22:33 PM »
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Quote from: LukeH
I have landed work photographing a band live onstage and was wondering if anybody out there had any tips or advice for doing this?

Wear ear-plugs.

Wollom
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LoisWakeman
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« Reply #2 on: January 14, 2009, 03:27:58 AM »
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Hi Luke,

Not an area I am familiar with - but if you type in "concert photography tips" in a search engine, you will find lots of tutorials and discussions on how to manage low-light shooting.

You'll need some understanding of the relationship between aperture, shutter speed and ISO settings to make the most of some of them.
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David Sutton
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« Reply #3 on: January 14, 2009, 04:06:27 AM »
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As an amateur photographing friends the hardest thing I've found is getting a clear shot without microphones in the way. Mostly you can't, so it's a question of placing yourself so the mic isn't too obtrusive. Some other considerations: will the venue be packed or will you be able to move around? So will you want to stick to one lens? Will you be able to use flash (or do you even want to?). I prefer to use the venue's lighting but it means some difficulty getting the white balance right. Most of all I want to be there before the sound check and be shooting while this is being done to get an idea of what's going to work and where I want to be. And bring ear plugs. You could easily find yourself at the side of the stage right in front of the speakers. The suggestions from the 2 previous posters are good.  Have fun, David
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PeterAit
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« Reply #4 on: January 14, 2009, 08:23:15 AM »
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Quote from: LukeH
I have landed work photographing a band live onstage and was wondering if anybody out there had any tips or advice for doing this?

The January Popular Photography has an article on this.

Peter
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Colorado David
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« Reply #5 on: January 14, 2009, 09:41:22 AM »
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Check and set white balance with the stage lighting without any gels.  One would hope that the stage lighting would all be quartz and that the only variable would be colored gels on some light instruments.  Setting white balance with the clear lighting instrument will then render the effects of the colored gels accurately.  You might also test your ear protection during a sound check.  Standing in the way of a bank of speakers during the shoot is not the time to find out your ear protection is inadequate.  Hearing damage is cumulative, so take care of it from the start.
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gerk
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« Reply #6 on: January 14, 2009, 11:13:24 AM »
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I'll third the mention of ear protection.  I'm a pro musician/soundman that's recently taken up photography and I do a lot of this type of stuff (live band shots).  Another suggestion, is go easy on flash work.  It's tough for the folks on stage to see properly after a flash has gone off in their eyes and if you are taking multiple shots in succession it can be very tough for them to a) see where they are going and  see their instrument.  Having been on the other side of the photos in the past I can verify this first hand.  I personally try to avoid flash as often as possible for live shots as they don't really capture the mood that I look for in live shots -- but that's a personal choice I suppose and also limited by your gear and available lighting.

Lastly I'll say, get to know your camera gear.  If you are wanting to do no-flash type stuff you will need to run in manual mode if you don't already to get best results, especially in lower light situations.  I'm constantly tweaking settings, changing metering mode (when I'm not in full manual), etc.  If you don't know your gear well you're going to spend a lot of time scratching your head and looking for things in the menu's, etc while standing there in the relative dark trying to get your shots
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Morgan_Moore
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« Reply #7 on: January 15, 2009, 04:46:42 PM »
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Quote from: LukeH
I have landed work photographing a band live onstage and was wondering if anybody out there had any tips or advice for doing this?

Subtle Fill Flash - and dragged shutter (like 1/4 or 1/8 or 1/2 or even 1)

You can move the camera skillfully to create trails of ambient light - the skill comes in not putting a trail over a face

Rear synch is no good - just move the camera

Typical concert lighting is way too contrasty to do without it

stop down your aperture a bit else you wont be able to focus

with a crazy light show your AF probably wont work - so you may need to prefocus on a mic stand

They want the pictures, the fame, the money and the glory  so they will have to live with 'the pain' of flash

If you wait for your moments you only need a few frames of each performer - no need to hose them down - more is not better

Better use flash than you producing a sub par project

Of course if it is arena where they use great fill lighting 800ISO at 250 with an 80-200 2.8 should do the trick

And protect those ears - chainsaw headphones make for a great look

S
« Last Edit: January 15, 2009, 04:58:26 PM by Morgan_Moore » Logged

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larryg
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« Reply #8 on: January 15, 2009, 06:14:17 PM »
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Beyond the technical.  (if you have the opportunity) ask the band or others organizing the event  what do they have in mind.  What has been done in the past that they liked etc.   This way you can get an idea of what they are expecting and then go beyond that with your own creativity

Good luck
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spidermike
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« Reply #9 on: January 16, 2009, 05:25:57 AM »
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Bands usually have routines in how they move around on stage, how they interact with each other and with the audience, when they have breaks and when they stop playing and chat a bit about the songs they are playing. There is also the lighting - some songs will be well lit, others less so (eg spots, flares and fireworks).  So find out where you will be standing (photorgaphers sometimes have a limited amount of room to move around) and if you can, go to more than one gig - the first once or twice spend most time watching these things and you will find out when you will have 'down time' to rest or to go snap-happy and (moeri mportantly) when you need to be ready and concentrating waiting for that one moment you have planned.
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wolfnowl
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« Reply #10 on: January 22, 2009, 01:10:39 AM »
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Found this over on Lightroom-News:

http://lightroom-news.com/2009/01/20/light...c-photographer/

Mike.
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LukeH
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« Reply #11 on: January 28, 2009, 04:49:11 PM »
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So here is the end product of images I took the other night. Man alive it's hard with the movement, flashing lights and mosh-pitters coming over the barricades.
Criticisms and further advice more than welcome.

Cheers

Luke
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wollom
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« Reply #12 on: January 28, 2009, 06:33:04 PM »
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Quote from: LukeH
So here is the end product of images I took the other night. Man alive it's hard with the movement, flashing lights and mosh-pitters coming over the barricades.
Criticisms and further advice more than welcome.

Cheers

Luke

Luke, thanks for posting these.  So often posts in this area draw thoughtful responses but there's no evidence of the results.

This looks like a small band, small venue, small lighting rig.  For still photographers the first technical challenge is just to get enough light for a useful exposure.  The second is that the lighting rig is either limited or unimaginative so photographs lack dimension; coloured blobs in a sea of black.

Photographically? The band looks like they might have a sort of grungy, gritty, sweaty, in-your-face kind of sound. Think about how their music makes people feel.  How can your photographs make people feel like that? In this situation photography is not a spectator sport.  Think of the best shots you've seen of riots, wars and boxing matches; the camera is right in the action.

In your shoes, I'd plan to shoot at a rehearsal. Tell the band you want to get in-their-face and that you want them to deliver same energy they bring to a performance. Think about the light direction and shadows. Have the lead singer hold hid mic slightly to one side so you can shoot more face on.  Take a something to stand on that will get you above head height.

Shoot lots.

Wollom
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LukeH
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« Reply #13 on: January 28, 2009, 07:27:06 PM »
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Cheers for the advice.
Unfortunately my best shot of the singer right in the face of the fans came underexposed. Disappointed to say the least but it's all still a learning curve.
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Morgan_Moore
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« Reply #14 on: January 29, 2009, 11:55:40 AM »
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Quote from: LukeH
Criticisms and further advice more than welcome.



Luke

Being harsh (as I would if a picture editor paying) - the images are not useable

Where is the flash and dragged shutter ??

You would have been fine if you did that , no silly ISO, do silly depth of field and focus issues

I can promise the main battle of rock photography is getting permission for flash - look at rock mags and spot the fill in

On the moshers - I did 'Therapy?' (90s heavy grunge band) with no pit - just in the melee - that was fun - the venue got shut down on safety grounds shortly after

ps well done for coming back and showing

SMM
« Last Edit: January 29, 2009, 11:57:31 AM by Morgan_Moore » Logged

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LukeH
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« Reply #15 on: February 02, 2009, 09:16:13 PM »
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Dragged shutter?

No flash was allowed unfortunately.
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Morgan_Moore
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« Reply #16 on: February 03, 2009, 12:53:22 AM »
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Quote from: LukeH
Dragged shutter?

No flash was allowed unfortunately.

By  who ? - that band that was employing you ?

Would you have still done the job if they had banned use of camera too ? - you would say 'I cant do the job if you cant let me use the right tools'

The more this is not said about flash and gigs the harder it gets for everyone

You have to learn the power of persuasion - much harder than taking pictures - the real art in fact ?

Sometimes you can sneakily use flash when the lightshow goes into a stroby bit - hiding an off camera flash by a monitor or in the light rig can help but then you need fancy pocket wizards

show me some great rock photography that is not either flashed or in a big venue with a huge lighting rig ..

Ok things are changing with alsmot usable 6400 ISO on a couple of cameras - but that doesnt control the wide contrast range in a spotlit scene

Dragging the shutter - shooting with flash and using a long shutter speed somewhere between 1/8th to 1 second for gigs - the short duration of the flash freezes action while the long exposure hoovers up a lot of ambient lighting in a blurred manner that gives the impression of speed

the attached wedding band not a great picture but

-flash is off camera giving sculptural light and avoiding white out of the guitar headstock
-ambient dragged shutter kills flash shadow and warms the room
-F8 means it is sharp
-200 ISO means no noise in the file

All text book stuff -  finger on lens is the only element of the image that you should not attempt to emulate!

Oh and if you have to use no flash - go for 180th shutter - wide aperture and look for the artist moving into pools of light and keeping still while having expression - it will happen a couple of times in a gig if you watch like a hawk and focus  like a ninja

richard ashcroft - big gig lights - still required maximum concentration on the lighting, a soulful moment, and a D3 and 400 2.8 to get that shot (the eye is downrezzed by 60%)

SMM
« Last Edit: February 03, 2009, 01:31:38 AM by Morgan_Moore » Logged

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LukeH
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« Reply #17 on: February 03, 2009, 01:25:45 AM »
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Thanks for the info about the dragging flash. Yeah it is stupid hard to take the images, but since I was given an opportunity to photograph my favourite band I just jumped at it and didn't ask too many questions. You're right about the power of persuasion though in hindsight. Just a steep learning curve for myself.
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Morgan_Moore
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« Reply #18 on: February 03, 2009, 01:35:31 AM »
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I think I was editing the post while you responded ! - maybe have another look at the attachments..

Try dragging the flash at home with your missus, mates or kids and a table lamp

a good excersize is to try and draw a circle around thier head - the lamp stays still you move the camera

do you know the Picasso flash and dragged shutter - the ultimate flash dragging shot

you usually need a 5.6 or f8 aperture and it needs to be dark !

S
« Last Edit: February 03, 2009, 01:43:25 AM by Morgan_Moore » Logged

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gerk
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« Reply #19 on: February 03, 2009, 03:35:44 PM »
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A comment I'll make after having looked at some of the metadata on those shots you posted ... I think you might have gotten some better results using higher ISO and being more selective about the f stop used ... the first one at least (the very dark blue) shows that it was shot at ISO 800, f/8 and 1/100 with a 40D.

I would have probably done ISO 1600, as fast as you could go f stop wise with your glass (I often shoot at f/2 when doing low lighting live stuff ... which is not optimal for DOF but can get the job done of capturing a usable shot when you can't use flash and don't have a lot of existing light to work with) and to really push the boundary of how long you can leave the shutter open and still get a sharp shot -- which again will really depend on what's going on on the stage and what you're trying to capture.

While I don't consider these "great shots" by any means, I have some posted in my flickr account that I took in small club situations with low lighting that turned out ok technically   Practice makes perfect and don't be afraid to try things out and don't get discouraged if things don't always turn out as expected.

This set is (mostly) all shot with a Canon EF 70-200 f/4 IS L lens at f/4, ISO 1600.  There was a fair bit of light on this venue's stage which is why I got away with my f/4 lens!

http://flickr.com/photos/studiogerk/sets/72157612499931411/

This set is (mostly) all shot with a Canon 50mm f/1.4 @ ISO 1600 and all likely between f/1.8 and f/2.8

http://flickr.com/photos/studiogerk/sets/72157610180424805/


Again artistically they are not the best shots by any means, but technically I'm pretty happy with the results -- these 2 shoots were mostly just to get comfortable with my new 50D and figure out what works and what doesn't.
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