October 24, 2014, 06:34:54 AM

Author Topic: Red light a challenge for band photos. Strategies for red light?  (Read 5523 times)

chris_w_digits

  • Power Shot G7X
  • **
  • Posts: 25
    • View Profile
Using a Rebel T2i and later, a 5D Mark III, I have found that red light is the most challenging environment for getting good results.   I shoot at a venue that has several different colors of staqe lights and some bands seem to prefer only having the red ones on.   While this looks cool in person, I've found that it is difficult to get good pictures preserving the red and have the images be bright enough since red is not a very highly illuminating color to our eyes.   I like not using the flash (to preserve the rich color from the environment) and if any of the other color lights are on, I get great results and can work with the photos in post to get brighter results that are still colorful.

I did the math and found that red light only has the opportunity to oscillate roughly 9 times across the width of a pixel in the 5D3's sensor, while blue light can oscillate roughly 14 times across that same width.   I find that subjects in red light do not look as sharp in the resulting image, and it's more apparent when one person is under a red stage light and another is under blue light (especially if a grayscale version is made), but I wouldn't think we're close enough to the limitation of being able to capture all the sharpness available in red light yet.

Have any of you experienced this with red light and what is your strategy for dealing with it?

Most common combos when shooting: 
Canon 5D Mark III: 70-200mm f/2.8L (non-IS version), Sigma 85mm f/1.4, Canon 135mm f/2 L .

« Last Edit: March 06, 2013, 04:14:05 PM by chris_w_digits »

canon rumors FORUM


stefsan

  • Rebel T5i
  • ****
  • Posts: 120
    • View Profile
    • flickr
Re: Red light a challenge for band photos. Strategies for red light?
« Reply #1 on: March 06, 2013, 04:33:36 PM »
The only thing I can think of may sound too simple and stupid but it worked best for me: waiting for the other lights to come on  ;)
EOS 7D; EOS 40D; EF 70-200 f4 L; EF 70-300 L; EF 100 f2.8; EF-S 15-85; EF-S 10-22 |
http://www.flickr.com/photos/stefsan/

jeff92k7

  • Power Shot G7X
  • **
  • Posts: 21
    • View Profile
Re: Red light a challenge for band photos. Strategies for red light?
« Reply #2 on: March 06, 2013, 04:36:49 PM »
The best thing I have found when shooting concerts is to go to manual mode for pretty much everything.  Set the aperture, shutter, and ISO where you need them for good pictures under most lighting colors.  When the bands do all red lights, then you just keep shooting with the manual settings.  Solid red lights, mainly from LEDs now, will throw off the camera if it is in any auto mode.

Also, if you're shooting RAW, then you have some flexibility afterwards in recovering shadow detail or pulling back highlights.
550d/T2i, EFS 18-55 IS II, EFS 55-250 IS, EF 50 f1.8, EFS 17-55 f2.8

chris_w_digits

  • Power Shot G7X
  • **
  • Posts: 25
    • View Profile
Re: Red light a challenge for band photos. Strategies for red light?
« Reply #3 on: March 06, 2013, 04:42:06 PM »
For most acts, they do have the other lights on occasionally, although some bands just have red during their whole act, so waiting for other lights isn't an option.   Just the slightest amount of blue or yellow makes a big difference in the quality I can get out of the images.   I was more curious from a technical standpoint why red is such a difficult color.   Pure blue or pure green gives great, stunning results, but pure red doesn't.   

On the T2i, solid red light generally tricked the camera into using one higher ISO setting than it should have, and I learned to set it to ISO 800 manually, but the 5D Mark III doesn't have that problem.   I use Shutter priority and 1/160 second most of the time and the camera usually always "does the right thing".   Bands are moving a lot and 1/160 will freeze the people while allowing the drumsticks to have some blur on them.   For facial close-ups, the lens is usually wide open and the shallow depth of field works fine, with the person's face in focus and everything else blurred.

Forgot to mention -- I do shoot RAW and it does give a lot of opportunity for making better images afterward.
« Last Edit: March 06, 2013, 04:57:21 PM by chris_w_digits »

cayenne

  • 1D X
  • *******
  • Posts: 1213
    • View Profile
Re: Red light a challenge for band photos. Strategies for red light?
« Reply #4 on: March 06, 2013, 05:20:57 PM »
I'd heard this from another photog I read about..I think it was the "Fro".....but red lit concert stages make for FANTASTIC black and white photos!!

I'm quite the noob, but I had a bunch of them I took at Blues fest of Keb Mo at night down here last year, and on many shots, lots of red spots on him.

I took those 'red' shots into Aperture (you are shooting RAW aren't you?) and made them into B&W's or sepia..and played with the color sliders...and I ended up with some spectacular looking shots.

Give it a try.

HTH,

cayenne

East Wind Photography

  • 5D Mark III
  • ******
  • Posts: 713
  • EWP
    • View Profile
Re: Red light a challenge for band photos. Strategies for red light?
« Reply #5 on: March 06, 2013, 05:49:17 PM »
Sigh and you may also have AF and metering issues in red light.  If you are working for the band and they are ok with a light, you can use an LED tactical flashlight to get AF and then turn it off....that is if you have a hard time getting AF in red light or otherwise low light.  Works quite well and some even have a remote pressure switch.

Chuck Alaimo

  • 1D Mark IV
  • ******
  • Posts: 986
    • View Profile
    • Chuck Alaimo Photography
Re: Red light a challenge for band photos. Strategies for red light?
« Reply #6 on: March 06, 2013, 06:53:42 PM »
Red light just sucks in general.  I shoot a lot of live concerts in a wide variety of venues.  Red Lights are the worst.  OK, the worst is actually when you have a smoke machine going and red light!!!!

more times than not, if a show uses red light 80% of the time, you can bet on seeing lots of results in b&w.  Each venue is different, not all red light is bad.  A little here and there can be quit nice.  Backlit with red and front lit with white is nice for crisp faces.  It's when a red spotlight is blasted on a person face that it just stinks.  It makes the subject look like they have freckles, and a bad case of them.

It's one of those things you can't control, but, you can get good results if you go b&w..or, silhouette.

here's some red light --

http://chuckalaimo.com/wp-content/uploads/wppa/920.jpg 
Owns 5Dmkiii, 6D, 16-35mm, 24mm 1.4, 70-200mm 2.8, 50mm 1.4, 85 mm 1.8, 100mm 2.8 macro, 1-600RT, 2 430 EX's, 1 video light

canon rumors FORUM

Re: Red light a challenge for band photos. Strategies for red light?
« Reply #6 on: March 06, 2013, 06:53:42 PM »

hpmuc

  • Power Shot G7X
  • **
  • Posts: 17
    • View Profile
Re: Red light a challenge for band photos. Strategies for red light?
« Reply #7 on: March 06, 2013, 06:56:07 PM »
I did the math and found that red light only has the opportunity to oscillate roughly 9 times across the width of a pixel in the 5D3's sensor, while blue light can oscillate roughly 14 times across that same width. 

I don't think light oscillates in any way "across the width of a pixel"...

funkboy

  • Canon 6D
  • *****
  • Posts: 422
  • 6D & a bunch of crazy primes
    • View Profile
Re: Red light a challenge for band photos. Strategies for red light?
« Reply #8 on: March 06, 2013, 07:00:43 PM »
Experiment a lot in the beginning of the show & check your histograms to get a good idea of what your exposure should be (using the RGB histogram is especially important to make sure you don't blow the red channel), and then switch to manual.  By the second or third tune you should have your settings dialed in.  This also helps if there are spots swinging all over the place that dazzle your meter if you get one in the face, but I'd guess from your description that these are the kind of gigs where they just set the lights at the beginning & leave them there (probably just cheap PAR cans with gels).

If the only lightsources on the stage are cans with red gels, you will now have one channel (red) with useful data in it, and G & B will mostly contain noise.  This is why it is especially important to shoot RAW & Expose to the Right so that your one channel has as much good data in it as possible.

Now bring your image into photoshop or lightroom or whatever you prefer to use, and go to the B&W channel mixer.

Personally I like to start with the red/orange/magenta channels turned all the way down so I can see if the other channels contain anything useful, or just noise.  Turn down the noisy channels until the noise is gone, then bring up red & friends and play with them until you get a B&W image you like.  Knowing how to use the tone curve is useful for tweaking here too.

Good luck & keep shooting.  In my experience the bands really appreciate the pix.

Drizzt321

  • 1D X
  • *******
  • Posts: 1674
    • View Profile
    • Aaron Baff Photography
Re: Red light a challenge for band photos. Strategies for red light?
« Reply #9 on: March 06, 2013, 07:03:57 PM »
I did the math and found that red light only has the opportunity to oscillate roughly 9 times across the width of a pixel in the 5D3's sensor, while blue light can oscillate roughly 14 times across that same width. 

I don't think light oscillates in any way "across the width of a pixel"...

I think he's trying to say that the wavelength of red vs blue light, however he's waaaay over thinking things I think. Mostly it boils down to just about all of the rest of the advice in this thread. And expect to see lots of B&W images, often it's the only way to get something that looks half-way decent. But they can also turn out freaking awesome once you convert to B&W.
5D mark 2, 5D mark 3, EF 17-40mm f/4L,  EF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM, EF 135mm f/2L, EF 85mm f/1.8
Film Cameras: Mamiya RB67, RB-50, RB-180-C, RB-90-C, RB-50, Perkeo I folder, Mamiya Six Folder (Pre-WWII model)
http://www.aaronbaff.com

TAF

  • EOS M2
  • ****
  • Posts: 155
    • View Profile
Re: Red light a challenge for band photos. Strategies for red light?
« Reply #10 on: March 06, 2013, 07:14:25 PM »
I'd heard this from another photog I read about..I think it was the "Fro".....but red lit concert stages make for FANTASTIC black and white photos!!

+1




tog13

  • SX60 HS
  • **
  • Posts: 8
    • View Profile
Re: Red light a challenge for band photos. Strategies for red light?
« Reply #11 on: March 06, 2013, 07:36:37 PM »
I'd heard this from another photog I read about..I think it was the "Fro".....but red lit concert stages make for FANTASTIC black and white photos!!



HTH,

cayenne

I second (3rd/4th/etc.) this.  I've done a ton of gig shots in the last ~15 years, many of them in poor (and sometimes red) light.  Either embrace the B&W, or play with the WB (assuming you're shooting raw, and you should be for this type of work) to make whatever color you end up with really pop.  Forget about trying to make it look "natural" - the data's just not there.
5D3, 5D1, 10D converted to IR, 16-35 f/2.8L I, 24-105 f/4L, 50 f/1.4, 50 f/1.8, 85 f/1.8, 135 f/2L, 180 f/3.5L macro, 70-200 f/2.8L I

Chuck Alaimo

  • 1D Mark IV
  • ******
  • Posts: 986
    • View Profile
    • Chuck Alaimo Photography
Re: Red light a challenge for band photos. Strategies for red light?
« Reply #12 on: March 06, 2013, 08:09:43 PM »
here's 2...essentially the same shot...see how icky the red one is compared to the b&W???
Owns 5Dmkiii, 6D, 16-35mm, 24mm 1.4, 70-200mm 2.8, 50mm 1.4, 85 mm 1.8, 100mm 2.8 macro, 1-600RT, 2 430 EX's, 1 video light

canon rumors FORUM

Re: Red light a challenge for band photos. Strategies for red light?
« Reply #12 on: March 06, 2013, 08:09:43 PM »

Chuck Alaimo

  • 1D Mark IV
  • ******
  • Posts: 986
    • View Profile
    • Chuck Alaimo Photography
Re: Red light a challenge for band photos. Strategies for red light?
« Reply #13 on: March 06, 2013, 08:14:10 PM »
reeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeed...lol


love yellow though!
Owns 5Dmkiii, 6D, 16-35mm, 24mm 1.4, 70-200mm 2.8, 50mm 1.4, 85 mm 1.8, 100mm 2.8 macro, 1-600RT, 2 430 EX's, 1 video light

Mt Spokane Photography

  • EF 50mm F 0.7 IS
  • *********
  • Posts: 8880
    • View Profile
Re: Red light a challenge for band photos. Strategies for red light?
« Reply #14 on: March 06, 2013, 09:19:08 PM »
Green is essential for the auto exposure system.  If its missing, you will need to use manual exposure.  The camera is trying to expose to get the correct amount of brightness and it uses the green channel to do this.
Try manual exposure using the histogram of the red channel.  It won't be wonderful, but can be much better.

canon rumors FORUM

Re: Red light a challenge for band photos. Strategies for red light?
« Reply #14 on: March 06, 2013, 09:19:08 PM »