Shooting musicians performing in dimly lit areas


#1
I am asked by a friend to take photos of his band performing. I know the performance venue and it is quite dimly lit with some neon and ambient lighting. Previously, I had shot some photos with a P&S camera and the result was disarsterous, too much camera shake and motion blur due to longer shutter speeds.

Now that I have upgraded to a DSLR, I hope to get better results this time round. I will be using a 50mm f1.8 and a 17-50mm f2.8 lens. I believe this setup will be good if I want to shoot individual musician with shallow DOF and hopefully get some sharp images without using flash. The musicians are always moving a lot which is very challenging.

But lets say if I want to capture the musician with the background clearly visible (deeper DOF), the wide aperture will be problematic due to the shallower DOF and setting smaller aperture will mean slower shuttle speed which might not be suitable if the camera is handheld. I don't know if I can set the ISO high enough to compensate without introducing too much noise or not.

Using slow sync rear curtain flash will possibly give me the results I want - deep DOF with motion freeze but I don't want to distract them too much and many performance venues prohibit flash photography anyway.

So, have you shot in such situation before?
Care to share your experiences and give me some tips on how to shoot better in this scenario?
 

Dec 12, 2009
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#2
Well you just have to increase your ISO. Otherwise you just have to burst shoot and hope you get one picture with motion freeze. There's a reason why people invest in semi or pro bodies that can handle high ISO noise well. It's difficult if you want dof, freeze motion etc but no flash allowed. My take is to get a good seat and use 50 f1.8, next forgo dof if your body's highest iso cannot cope with the poor lighting.

Otherwise ask your friend not to run around the stage too much if he wants you to take a good photo under the environment.

Indoor performance I just bump up my ISO and shoot at f2 or wider. I rather have a noisy photo rather than a blurry photo. I am using 500D, and some performances I used ISO 800 or worse ISO 1600 still gives reasonbly alright quality. Usually I try to shoot at a shutter speed of 1/50 and above minimum.
 

photoart

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#3
You already know your stuff pretty well. What camera are you using by the way?

You can have various options if you don't want to used flash, i.e to consider getting lenses with IS/VR/VC depending on what your brand calls it. It will not eliminate blur due to show shutter speeds but it will reduce camera shake when the musicians or u are moving. A fast accurate autofocus camera body also help u nail good shots
 

#5
Well you just have to increase your ISO. Otherwise you just have to burst shoot and hope you get one picture with motion freeze. There's a reason why people invest in semi or pro bodies that can handle high ISO noise well. It's difficult if you want dof, freeze motion etc but no flash allowed. My take is to get a good seat and use 50 f1.8, next forgo dof if your body's highest iso cannot cope with the poor lighting.
I guess I will have to try higher ISO then :)



You already know your stuff pretty well. What camera are you using by the way?

You can have various options if you don't want to used flash, i.e to consider getting lenses with IS/VR/VC depending on what your brand calls it. It will not eliminate blur due to show shutter speeds but it will reduce camera shake when the musicians or u are moving. A fast accurate autofocus camera body also help u nail good shots
I am using the Canon 60D but my lens are pretty basic with no IS or USM (Canon 50mm f1.8 and Tamron 17-50mm f2.8 non-VC). So I will have to make do with whatever I have now :)



if you are shooting live than you need to shoot at it is, else you can ask them for some free time just to set up for the shoot
They want live shots, and there is another band that had requested me to take photos for them on the same day, that's why I have to ask for expert advice from your guys :)
 

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1412235827

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#6
you will have to compromise, you will want the highest ISO and highest shutter speed for now.
 

Sgdevilzz

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#7
1412235827 said:
you will have to compromise, you will want the highest ISO and highest shutter speed for now.
Using the Highest shutter speed doesn't mean it's good. It will Make your photos darker during low light situations.
 

daredevil123

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#8
The other thing to note is the venue. How close can you get to the band. If it is a bigger stage and you have to shoot from below, the 50mm may not be enough.
 

kei1309

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#9
1 point to take note.... not every concert venue (especially if it's a venue like Indoor Stadium) will allow DSLRs in.

but of course, smuggle in your M 4/3 or Mirrorless compacts :bsmilie:
 

unknown123

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#10
just hope there are spotlight shining around. set ISO high and shoot continuous. 3 fps will do. ;) set manual mode. once the spot light hit the person u will get great picture!
all the best!
 

unknown123

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#11
just hope there are spotlight shining around. set ISO high and shoot continuous. 3 fps will do. ;) set manual mode. once the spot light hit the person u will get great picture!
all the best!

with some editing u will get something like this. shot at 1/60 at iso 3200 with only a 18-135(kit lens)
 

#13
There are 2 venues - one in Singapore at Blujaz, the other one in Thailand. In Blujaz, I can get up close and personal with the performers but the Thailand one...no one knows how the venue will look like. I am no pro, just tagging along with the band to take pictures for them for free and they paid for my trip :D

Anyway, I will take note of the shooting in burst mode and set the ISO high. I am just amateur, can't afford the f2.8 telezooms, just have to stick to the regular f4-5.6 zoom I have now if I cannot get close to them - might need to bump the ISO real high and post-process later.

Thanks to everyone and redmonsoon for the link, very informative :)
 

Reportage

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#14
What you can do is simple. Tell your problem to the band and have them arrange with the in-house lighting operator to use more + stronger lighting for their gig.

After that is up to your skills and imagination.
 

Prismatic

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#16
I think most of the TS questions have already been answered here, so I would just ask
the TS to consider 2 questions:
1) Would the deeper d.o.f make a better picture?
2) Would a faster shutter speed make a better picture?

The background might be full of unwanted details and make the photos look cluttered. Also, TS
mentioned that the musicians move around a lot, so most likely they play quite lively music. If you
use a fast shutter speed to capture their actions, they may look less dynamic and you lose a bit
of the atmosphere.
 

Dec 12, 2009
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#18
Just share some pic i took when I just started off with my first dslr, 500D and 18-200 kit lens. ISO 800 or 1600 if I remember correctly.

 

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#20
1) Would the deeper d.o.f make a better picture?
2) Would a faster shutter speed make a better picture?
1) depends on situation, besides using shallower DOF for some portraits, sometimes I also want to capture some background to add some depth to show some of the interesting backdrop of the location the musician performed in.

2) faster shutter speed in bright conditions can freeze moving subjects but in low light, the image might be too dark or even black out.



this is what i shot with a D70 and kit lens with hi iso
The Lion King picture is good, this is one of the shots I am trying to achieve. But I don't think the musicians will freeze like this on the stage in a live performance situation for me to take a shot like this.



Just share some pic i took when I just started off with my first dslr, 500D and 18-200 kit lens. ISO 800 or 1600 if I remember correctly.
The Jay Chou pic is pretty sharp too, he is obviously moving and you managed to take a good shot. Did you use a tripod? Besides high ISO, did you use other things?
 

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