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Author Topic: Gig photography tips.  (Read 7448 times)

CJRodgers

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Gig photography tips.
« on: May 28, 2012, 04:22:43 AM »
hi guys! After holding out for the latest generation, then realising i would rather get some good lenses I finally got my first dslr (5d mkii) on saturday morning and went to a festival a few hours later to try it out. I only had a 50mm 1.8 because i had read that was a good lens to start with for low light and because its inexpensive id be less worried about it. I went to four stages and got really good shots on two stages, the other two i had problems with and would like advice.

1. This stage was in a basement and had just one purple light on the singer. Couldnt believe how dark it was. With aperature at 1.8, shutter at about 125 and iso at about 3200 the camera was still saying underexposed. Had i have had a flash i would have been fine. But i didnt think they would be allowed plus i dont own one yet. So other than buying a flash and learning is there any tips for extreme situations like this?

2. This stage was big and i wasnt very close i had been at every other stage. The lighting kept changing every 30 seconds! So i was stuggling to keep up changing my iso settings etc. One minuite the stage was flooded with dark red lights which forced me to use high ISO settings, then a bright strobe would come on which meant i could either change my ISO or increase shutter speed. I wanted to change ISO so i could have a chance at cropping with less noise seems i was a bit far away. I was also trying to avoid lots of beer being thrown and crowd surfers (this was a heavy metal band!) I ended up keeping my settings for the bright white strobes and waiting for changes to take photos then. I felt like every photo i took with deep red or purple lights looked very boring.


One thing i had noticed on the day was that i changed to spot metering almost straight away becuase it was the only time i could get sensible results. Should i have done this?

Will experience just allow me to judge when to wait for the lighting to change rather than trying to compensate every time it chaged?

I found f1.8 really useful and could imagine stuggling at f2.8. should i just get some more primes or are zoom lenses at f2.8 usuble in extreme conditions? I want something shorter and something longer. (i have about 1.5K to 2K to spend on lenses) Recommend please.

Im pretty sure rock and pop gigs would have more standard and better lighting, this was metal / hardcore and the lighting was just crazy how much it was changing and how dark it was! Also is flash aloud at most gigs? Or should i just take one everytime anyways and put it away if im not allowed it?

All in all i think i got a few good shots of each band but i still need to upload them onto my PC. I was supposed to have a press pass to get into the pit with my guest list spot but that didnt work out. Im sure had i have had this some aspects would have been easier.

Sorry for the essay, thanks for reading!

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Gig photography tips.
« on: May 28, 2012, 04:22:43 AM »

RLPhoto

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Re: Gig photography tips.
« Reply #1 on: May 28, 2012, 03:06:18 PM »
I was just in a very similiar shoot with not LOW LIGHT but NO LIGHT at all! I had fast 1.2 Glass at 6400 ISO at 1/50th and not enough light. I couldn't focus or compose at all! Pitch black...

I had to use flash and bounce off a wooden roof which tinted the flash a slight orange color. The key was the 580 EX II has a focus assit beam that allowed me to focus in pitch black darkness.

I set my camera to from ISO800-3200 depending my lens, with second curtain shutter on the flash with 1/100 or higher to freeze action, and F/2.8 or faster to get some ambient light from the bounced flash.

I dont have the photos right now here, but ill post later.

CJRodgers

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Re: Gig photography tips.
« Reply #2 on: May 29, 2012, 04:11:35 AM »
haha yeah sounds about right (no light). I think then i just need to get a flash and master it (and hope im allowed to use it). I want a wide lens and a longer lens. I was between the 24mm 1.4 and the 16-35, but i think ill have to go for the 24mm for the faster aperture. The longer one im more confused on. I wanted the 100mm macro becuase its versitile (can do portraits as well as macro), but maybe the 135L with f2 would be better as its slightly faster. But it cant do macro and i dont think i can afford both, and a 24mm 1.4 and a 580exii. hmmmmm, any thoughts?

Thank RLPhoto for not telling me i was just doing it all wrong lol. Id only had the camera two hours, so i was a bit nervous but i think i got some good shots. My friend is putting some in his magazine so im happy.

P.S ill try the advice on the second curtain shutter once ive master the flash.

CJRodgers

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Re: Gig photography tips.
« Reply #3 on: May 29, 2012, 04:14:21 AM »
I just realised there is a 28mm 1.8. Is this a touch on the 24mm 1.4? Its a lot cheaper so i could get an extra lens if its decent!

Axilrod

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Re: Gig photography tips.
« Reply #4 on: May 29, 2012, 10:07:47 AM »
I just realised there is a 28mm 1.8. Is this a touch on the 24mm 1.4? Its a lot cheaper so i could get an extra lens if its decent!

The 28mm f/1.8 is a pretty bad lens, while the 24 1.4 is f'n amazing, no comparison whatsoever.  But at the same time the 24 1.4 may feel a little wide, so the 35mm f/1.4 may be a better option.  If you want something longer try the 85mm f/1.8, you can find them used for around $300 and they perform beautifully.
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CJRodgers

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Re: Gig photography tips.
« Reply #5 on: May 29, 2012, 11:55:18 AM »
I just realised there is a 28mm 1.8. Is this a touch on the 24mm 1.4? Its a lot cheaper so i could get an extra lens if its decent!

The 28mm f/1.8 is a pretty bad lens, while the 24 1.4 is f'n amazing, no comparison whatsoever.  But at the same time the 24 1.4 may feel a little wide, so the 35mm f/1.4 may be a better option.  If you want something longer try the 85mm f/1.8, you can find them used for around $300 and they perform beautifully.

Thanks for the insight. I need to figure out what focal lenghts i need i guess. Too much choice!

CJRodgers

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Re: Gig photography tips.
« Reply #6 on: May 29, 2012, 12:13:11 PM »
BTW, is the sigma 85mm 1.4 as good as the 85mm 1.8?

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Re: Gig photography tips.
« Reply #6 on: May 29, 2012, 12:13:11 PM »

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Re: Gig photography tips.
« Reply #7 on: May 29, 2012, 07:25:39 PM »
BTW, is the sigma 85mm 1.4 as good as the 85mm 1.8?

it blows it away, I chose the sigma over the 85L due to much much faster AF
the 85L is a bit sharper at 1.2 than the siggy at 1.4
both have some purple fringing wide open but nothing that cant be fixed in post
by f2 the siggy is stunningly sharp
and for the cost vs the L 2.5 times cheaper is awesome bang for buck

my favourite lens
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CJRodgers

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Re: Gig photography tips.
« Reply #8 on: May 30, 2012, 09:45:18 AM »
Oh yeah i forgot to mention. I took some shots at 3200 when the light was REALLY poor (dark red lights). I only have one image that I liked, all the rest seem to be too noisy and DPP doesnt seem to make a very good job at reducing this. Is lightroom better or is ISO 3200 just not very usable in that situation.

eeek

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Re: Gig photography tips.
« Reply #9 on: May 30, 2012, 11:10:20 AM »
I shoot a lot at 6400 in concert venues (it's what I do) and the noise isn't bad whatsoever.  I'd like to see what noise you are having at 3200. 

CJRodgers

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Re: Gig photography tips.
« Reply #10 on: May 30, 2012, 11:19:48 AM »
I shoot a lot at 6400 in concert venues (it's what I do) and the noise isn't bad whatsoever.  I'd like to see what noise you are having at 3200.

Ok, ive not posted a photo in here before. How do i do it? Should i just upload a jpeg converted from dpp?

Ah, i just read the sticky thread on uploading photos. Will do it soon.
« Last Edit: May 30, 2012, 12:30:00 PM by CJRodgers »

robbymack

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Re: Gig photography tips.
« Reply #11 on: May 30, 2012, 12:42:22 PM »
I just realised there is a 28mm 1.8. Is this a touch on the 24mm 1.4? Its a lot cheaper so i could get an extra lens if its decent!

The 28mm f/1.8 is a pretty bad lens, while the 24 1.4 is f'n amazing, no comparison whatsoever.  But at the same time the 24 1.4 may feel a little wide, so the 35mm f/1.4 may be a better option.  If you want something longer try the 85mm f/1.8, you can find them used for around $300 and they perform beautifully.

I wouldn't call the 28 1.8 "pretty bad", maybe in comparision to L glass, but that is comparing apples to oranges, and honestly the 24 1.4 is probably not 3-4 times better (as price would dictate) than the 28 1.8 for 99% of the population.  To the OP point, where $ is an issue I'd say the 28. 1.8 is acceptable.  That being said if the OP is going to be shooting a lot of concerts wide glass is probably not going to be the most needed, he needs long reasonably priced glass, so the 85 1.8, 135L, 200 f2.8L, 300 f4L, or 70-200 2.8L are probably better options.  You may even consider the 70-300L if reach is of paramount importance with zoom flexibility.  If you're going to be shooting a lot of concerts don't worry about IS and save some money with the 70-200 non IS as IS won't help you stop the action and buy a mono/tri pod instead.  If you are going to use flash then you can get away with f2.8 as long as you aren't so far away the flash is of no use.   If you are going to be up close and use flash you could even get away with the 70-200 f4 which for $600-700 is a fantastic bargain lens that is extremely sharp and versitile.   

If I were the OP and trying to squeeze the best I could out of $2K and maintain some flexibility with my set up I'd probably go with the 85 1.8, 135 L and a 580ex, if you could stretch the budget a bit the 70-200 non IS and the 135L would probably be a good bets as well.  Good luck, and welcome to a lifetime of always wanting something new and shiny with a red ring on the end. 

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Re: Gig photography tips.
« Reply #12 on: May 30, 2012, 12:51:29 PM »
at 1.8, shutter at about 125 and iso at about 3200 the camera was still saying underexposed. Had i have had a flash i would have been fine. But i didnt think they would be allowed plus i dont own one yet. So other than buying a flash and learning is there any tips for extreme situations like this?

It's ok if the camera thinks the SCENE is underexposed as long as your SUBJECT is exposed fine. Don't take camera's warnings at face value. You are dealing with pools of light on your subjects, so all you can do is make them exposed properly.

The lighting kept changing every 30 seconds! So i was stuggling to keep up changing my iso settings etc.

You basically have to decide which lighting you want to capture, set up your camera for that, and wait for the right moment. Trying to keep pace with the light show is an exercise in futility.

One thing i had noticed on the day was that i changed to spot metering almost straight away becuase it was the only time i could get sensible results. Should i have done this?

Yes because of "pools of light" that spotlights produce. However personally I would have gone with manual exposure instead of letting the camera decide here because results with AV could be unstable at best in this kind of environment.

I found f1.8 really useful and could imagine stuggling at f2.8. should i just get some more primes or are zoom lenses at f2.8 usuble in extreme conditions?

I wouldn't bother with zooms, you need better than 2.8 for your purpose. Get the 85mm f/1.2 or 135mm f/2

Also is flash aloud at most gigs? Or should i just take one everytime anyways and put it away if im not allowed it?

Flash will completely ruin the atmosphere/mood that the spotlights create. If you're ok with that, get a strong flash and put a snoot on it, but to me, atmosphere is EVERYTHING, so I wouldn't go down that path.

All in all i think i got a few good shots of each band but i still need to upload them onto my PC.


Put them up so we can see what you mean.

Cheers

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Re: Gig photography tips.
« Reply #12 on: May 30, 2012, 12:51:29 PM »

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Re: Gig photography tips.
« Reply #13 on: May 30, 2012, 01:20:43 PM »
Hehe, welcome to the world of band photography. It's a real challenge, but I do love it. Following up on what most of the others have said, you just need to wait for the right moment. Most music & lighting will come back around a 2nd or 3rd time, sometimes more, so if you miss something the first time, get the right focus and composition and wait for it to come back around.

In terms of the noise, most people are fine with viewing these types of photos with noise, and if you are exporting for web size images a lot of it will go away. One thing you can also do is convert to B&W. I've actually done that, then added some grain to get something I like the look of more.

One thing to remember about fast glass (f/1.8 and faster) is that getting the focus right is more and more important because the DoF get's much shallower. On the 5d2 you should really just be using the center AF point, and the recompose. You need to be careful because you'll be physically changing the angle of the plane of focus, so you might need to either manually touch up the focus, or physically move somewhat.

All in all, it's a ton of fun, and a real challenge you might enjoy. Eventually you'll need some longer glass, the 135mm is great, and the 70-200 f/2.8 IS USM is kind of a standard concert lens, although it's freaking expensive. For now, the suggestions on the 35L or the 85 f/1.8 or Sigma 85 f/1.4 will probably be better for you as the latter 2 are much less expensive, but let you be a bit further back from the stage. If you like being right up on the stage, the 35L is a great option on FF.
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CJRodgers

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Re: Gig photography tips.
« Reply #14 on: May 30, 2012, 02:11:34 PM »
Thanks for the tips Drizzt321. Maybe i am over worrying about noise. Im thinking of getting the 24mm or 35mm and then the 135mm. I might get the samyang 85mm for portraits and video, or save for the sigma 85 1.4.

It was a lot of fun, and I definately want to do it as often as possible (ive been asked back so i guess thats good). I cant imagine many photography situations harder in terms of lighting! And then protecting myself from crowd surfing and beer being thrown haha.

This is one of the examples. I dont have a work flow yet, so all ive done here is import it too dpp then export as a jpeg with quality setting 5 (so it was small enough to attach here). Is that thes best way to do this? I added tungsten lighting setting aswell actually. Let me know your thoughts on noise. I just noticed on one or two others that althought the AF point said it was on the eye, if looks like the microphone cable was actually the main thing in focus! So the face wasnt, sharp.
« Last Edit: May 30, 2012, 02:32:19 PM by CJRodgers »

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Re: Gig photography tips.
« Reply #14 on: May 30, 2012, 02:11:34 PM »