I have always enjoy music and what's better than combining the both and do concert photography. This set of photo were taken at a singing contest instead of a concert but the environment are fairly similar so I just want to share to you how I shot it and hopefully for those who are interested, you can learn something from it.
Equipment & Settings
Gear isn't everything in most occasion but to take photos in this low light environment, it is essential for you to use a fast lens and preferably a telephoto zoom. I have used the 70-200 f/2.8 VRI and the Nikon D800e. I shot majority of the photos at f/2.8 - f/4 with a 1/200-1/320 sec shutter speed and ISO 800-1600. I made quick adjustment on the go to match the lighting changes and bump the ISO if necessary.
So here are some tips that I found very useful when I shoot in these situations.
1. Shoot in Manual mode - because of the dramatic lighting changes and spot lights, your camera will have great difficulty to meter properly, so don't leave anything to chance and control everything yourself.
2. Use a zoom lens - this is more of a personal preference but zoom allows you to have greater flexibility with your framing whether you want a wide or tight shot.
3. Anticipate the shot - musicians tend to move around during their performance, so try to anticipate where they are going and where you should place them in your frame
4. Be careful with your background - just like any photo, background matters just as much, I like to place them against dark background to eliminate distractions but if there is a band, include them in the back to add context.
5. Keep shooting - Shoot many frames because you never know if your photos are in perfect focus and whether the facial expression of the performer is flattering. So shoot more and make sure you get the shot.
6. Pay attention to the performer - Performers have different mic hands and different postures, make sure you notice which is their good side or which side you want to capture and position yourself to get that shot.
It is the best to get the best image you can get in camera, but editing is also a very important part of digital photography. I think for concert photography, the most important post processing skills will be balancing highlights and shadows because the performers are most likely to be lit by a strong spot light and the rest of the scene will be very dark, so It is important to bring down the highlights on the subject and maybe bring up the shadows of the background. I would also suggest paying attention to the white balance because the colour of the lights may affect the colour temperature of your pictures, whether you want to create effect by keeping the colours or correcting it to a more natural look, that will be up to your personal style. Below is a before and after image and I think it shows how important editing is to bring out the true image that I want to capture from the start.
Here is a gallery of the shots I took during the singing contest so feel free to check them out!
I hope you enjoyed this post and feel free to share it with you friends who are interested in getting into concert photography.
Until next time!