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Getting Started in Concert Photography

Lesson 3 of 8

Camera Settings

 

Getting Started in Concert Photography

Lesson 3 of 8

Camera Settings

 

Lesson Info

Camera Settings

as a much in music photography. Live music photography is incredibly technical. It's very demanding on DSO get into camera settings Now, when it comes to exposure mode, we always shoot 100% in manual mode. And the reason for this is because stage lighting is very variable, and being able to control that is essential. This is shot of Green Day, who's performing the I Heart Radio music festival. And, as you can see in this image, their lights in the background that would very easily pool cameras meeting system. And so, But in contrast with the lights in the background, the light on the performer is very constant, for the most part, so that by spotlights and so you can dial in your exposure. And I know that you're gonna be able, thinking, have consistent images based on that, and you're not going to have to be three cameras not be fooled or tricked by extraneous lights in the background. And here's a shot of my morning jacket and to just sort of underscore that point, um, the lights on th...

e stage, we're going absolutely crazy. There were like strobes and their flicking on and off and if you're using, if you're not shooting in manual, if you're letting the camera tried to meet her the exposure and make those choices for you, it's going to change your exposure. Every single shot is going to change. 12111 photo will be looked completely different from the next. But in manual, as Todd was saying, usually the lights on the show, the ones that are actually the spotlights on the performers. The exposure doesn't change so much for those. So if you meet her for the performer and kind of ignore from, ah, camera setting standpoint, what's going on in the background? You'll have a lot of like repeatable success and manual mode can be scary, but it's It's pretty much a necessity for concert photography. In terms of setting for aperture, we almost always shoot exclusively wide open. And the reason for this is that if there is any more light that we can use, will probably put that into a That's a shutter speed or a lower I e. Isso for better image quality. That the sharpness at F 28 with professional lenses these days is so good that we see very little return and stopping down. Yeah, just to underscore that, like if you're even if you're shooting with a fast prime, you really don't need to go past F Stop down past after eight. The cameras these days are all good enough, especially with center point to hit focus on the I with enough depth of field that stopping down to acquire more depth of field for your average shot isn't really not necessary, especially when you need to stop motion with a higher shutter speed or or increase your eyes. So and this is the band British Sea Power, who is performing at Leeds Festival, and this was shot at F 28 at millimeters And here, you know, even shooting wide open. That's still planning it up the field that even though these two Ben Immers air different planes in focal planes, everyone is still recognisable and in focus enough that, you know, we still shoot at um, wide open all day long, and I think there's something here were like, whether we're not, we would personally like to admit it. We're talking about concert photography. The not everything needs to be tax sharp. If you nail on. Awesome moment. Um, I don't think anyone is gonna, like be pixel keeping to say, like, it's just not quite in focus or something like that. And in terms of eso the general range, we please stick between his between ice and 1664 100 for the very best lit arena shows you might be shooting at 100. But 3200 and 6400. Much more reasonable, especially for, um, you know, it's the kind of general lighting. This is a shot of Radiohead, the tour in 2008 and this was I had my first big published image was ran double page in spin, and it was shot at eso 6400. And again, this is with the D three. This was a camera that is several years old at this point, and it made you look great in print. So I think this goes to show that you shouldn't be afraid of high I so images. And even these days, you know, cameras these days far exceed the performance of these older cameras we were using when we started at it. So there's no reason to shy away from high I s O. In terms of shutter speed, we generally recommend shooting at the very minimum at 1 2/50 or faster. And the reason for this is to freeze motion. Especially, were very active performers. This is Chris Martin of Coldplay and shot at the I Heart Radio Music Festival and shot a 1 400 of the second at F 28 at, um, so 2500. And here 400 of a second is again just fast enough to freeze. Motion is no visual motion blur. You still captured the moment and the gesture. And like Todman, generally part of this is also about style. And who you're shooting for your personal style might be to have a little bit of motion blur to show like that. It's an actual rock show, Todd, My like to stop motion in most of our photographs. And this is like a stylistic thing that appeals to us but also, like, were hired to create this kind of image as opposed to something Mawr artistic, uh, or more of lyrical, very, very important. Three autofocus setting. Both of us shoot entirely in continuous autofocus. And so like that's IFC for a Nikon E I servo for Canon, and we both use back button focus. So taking the actual, like focusing setting off of the shutter and putting it onto either the F on button on the back of the camera or the exposure lock button. And what that does is enable us to basically separate where the camera is focusing and the actual, like taking of the picture of the actual shutter and sort out if you want to talk about this image. And this is the Ban all American rejects photographed at the pageant in ST Louis. And here is just an example of how that continuous focus is really an asset. When you have a performer on stage is moving and you need to lock focus. Using F s like single mode would really limits you compositionally because you're gonna have to have the former exactly on an air point. And I think having continuous focus allows you to freeze a freeze you up in terms of composition and creating more dynamic images on. We generally like to stay with cameras that air around five frames per second or faster. Again, you're shooting like fast action a lot of times and you want a camera that's going to keep up. You don't need something that's shooting in the like 10 11 12 frames per second range. That's fine, if that's what you've got. But, um, you can get by with something that's probably around five. Um, and that's a shot of Florida Georgia line again like this is one of these things where the more frames you have, it can be better. So if you if you know that they're gonna throw beer all over you, that one of these shots with all the hands moving through the air with all the liquid moving to the air, one of these shots is going to be the one. And having a camera with a least five or more frames per second is gonna give you more to choose from in the edit and building on Chris that this is a shot of Jason Aldeen and this was a shot that's bad on a mono pod is your remote release. The camera and shooting in continuous mode allowed us to really pick out the specific moment we wanted, especially when you're not able to look through the viewfinder and you're kind of, you know, cameras appear. You're kind of guessing and kind of anticipating and looking and kind of gauge where the foot and the boot is in relation to the camera. Um, where the boots not over his face. But it's up enough that it looks like he's kicking the camera. So questions about year or anything else, for that matter, I have a question on, and this could just be my ignorance on continuous F. A lot of your pictures have the heads on the top. Yes, which is outside the little focused. How do you get that? Is that the continuous A. F You could just point and it'll go. So continues a F when you use the back button method. If you hold the button down on the air point that can will focus whatever is in that point essentially and so. Even so, we do use the top most points on the camera, which might not necessarily, um, line of exactly the head. But in addition to continuous F, what separating if activation from the shutter allows you to do is to focus and recomposed very, very quickly, so that if you do want the head a little above the point, you can focus, keep focusing on the subject and then just bring the frame down, take your finger off and then release the shutter so that whereas if you had a F activation tied to the shutter release, you couldn't do that because you went. You tilted the camera down to recompose, the camera would be composed. And so actually like, really demonstrate that cause we can, when I'm hitting the shutter, the cameras on Lee taking the picture it's not focusing at all. Actually, get the camera to focus. I'm holding down this button on the back, and that's like a custom setting. It's on most cameras that you can do this and now the cameras only focusing on DSO if I want to take a picture of you, Um, I'm holding down the focus, the focus point, and then I'll recompose and let go of that back button and then take the picture So the point of focus stays the same, and I can put you even, yes, So like I'm once I get focus on you, I take my finger off of the focus off of the button. The camera stops focusing entirely. And then at that point, as long as I'm not moving forward and backward, I'm just doing this. I can put you anywhere in the frame. I want Teoh with within reason, and this is This is very, very like This is pretty essential for these sort of off centre compositions that we actually like a lot. Thanks for the question. Online. We have temperament. Couple. How do you handle or how are you white balancing when there are so many different colored lights as we're talking about here? Or does that concern you to be honest, actually, shoot on auto white balance for the most of the time? Because light sources can change. There could be like, um, temperature flickers in spotlights where having a locked white balance is actually detrimental because it's changing from second, the 2nd 2nd 2nd So, to be honest, I shoot on auto white balance. Most time it gets me ball park so that I can concentrate on the other technical details like exposure, composition and timing. On day, I feel that that frees me up rather than being locked in to a specific, although if we're shooting under constant lighting, then Yes, by all means, I think we would would lock in white balance. And so then, are you shooting in raw or J peg raw 100% of the time? I think these days is zero reason not shoot in raw and if need be raw and j pig. But, um, yeah, the flexibility of rock, especially for concert photography again, where there's so many variables, the light is weird and you might have to say you miss the exposure, But the moment is there having that latitude and flexibility with raw is really critical. Yeah, I don't know what we would dio. You wouldn't thes pictures would look a lot different if they weren't shot at rock. Let me tell you that you do you ever use flush like maybe become prepared and you just type on the side of the stage are on the way. We do use flash. That's on Lee. If we're shooting for a brand, the promoter or the band's because in order place those flashes really need the access and permission to do that. For the most part, this is if you're placing flushes in on stage on and in the rigging. So we do use flash. But again, it's only when we're working closely with you know, the band organizes etcetera, so we have that access and Onley win the actual ambient light stage lighting isn't sufficient. Their times there have been shooting for for Red Bull, for example, and there were shooting in very small clubs because it kind of fits their aesthetic and brands for more underground artists. But in order to produce, commercial images will be shooting with supplemented lighting so remote flashes triggered wirelessly to reproduce more well and evenly lit scene. But also, there's like a stylistic choice. We basic most the time we choose not to use flash. I know music photographers whose shoot exclusively with flash a lot of them in small clubs on produce, really awesome images. So if you're interested in exploring that, that's something, especially in smaller settings where your or when you're working directly is, Todd was saying with the artist, Absolutely do that. There's no there, no rules per se, and stylistically, if you want to explore that, you should definitely do it because I've seen it done extremely, extremely well. But we should also note that, for the most part, for larger national touring bands, there's obstruction on flash entirely when you shoot it from the front of stage. So you have to shoot with the ambient stage production. Several people asking about this in the photo pit. Are there unwritten rules? So sort of, how do you work together with the other photographers that are there? This is a great question. Um, no dancing in the photo pit is probably one unspoken rule, and this is more Yeah, um, I mean, we're all their toe work, I think, and that's the underlying and overriding thing in a photo pit that were there to work. And so, whether you have to be honest, whether you have an IPhone or a $10,000 camera rig you have, everyone has been approved. Whether you should have been or not. Everyone's been approved to be there, and so our view is you have everyone is the same right to be there. So if you if you're acting professionally you're shooting the show, you're not taking selfies in the photo pit or dancing or whatever. I think you're acting seriously. You're taking it seriously because it's a privilege to be in the photo pits. It's exclusive access that very few people have or should have. And so I think as long as you're acting with respect their I think everything is pretty good. Yeah, And I think one of the unspoken rules is definitely like if you've got your shot and you're in a good location and there are a lot of other photographers, you should move. You should move not only to create more diversity in what you're getting your your own take. You should move out of professional courtesy like Todd was saying, Everyone's been approved to be there enough. I've got a really good angle and I've got my shot. I'm gonna move to someplace else to someone else can can get what they're going to get. You think this is other courtesy, like not bumping people excessively. Try to be, you know, contain your space Move with purpose. Um, you know, getting your shot and think, What else? Um, no Hail Marys or a few Hail Marys as possible. Sometimes you'll see people hold the camera right over their head. And oftentimes, if there's a lot of people in the pit like If you're doing that, your camera is in everyone else, a shot who might be behind or to the your side. So if you're gonna do that like, do it and put it down, I think that's probably the last thing.

Class Description

Concert photography can be one of the hardest fields in photography. As a photographer you have no control over the lighting, environment, or direction of your subject. Learning how to lower the variables so you can capture an amazing moment of a performer or band will drastically improve your chances at growing an amazing portfolio. Todd and Chris Owyoung have photographed some of the biggest names in the music industry. In this class they’ll cover: 

  • How to build your portfolio and get photo passes to concerts 
  • What gear to bring to a performance 
  • Step by step walk through of a live performance and how to deal with the variables within  
In this class the sibling photographic duo will share their expertise of capturing commercial precision and the exhilaration of being in the front row. 

Reviews

CathyCook
 

Excellent class! Holy moly, check out their websites! Lots of good advice, especially for the novice.