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Archive 2012 · Does anyone have this problem ...
  
 
dortizphoto
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p.1 #1 · Does anyone have this problem ...


Hi everyone ...

Does anyone have the same problem I encounter when photographing concert type performances? I find when the subject constantly moves under varying lighting conditions going with Av/Tv mode just doesn't seem to work for me very well.

In this shoot - I had to go full manual, spot meter and constantly adjust exposure settings as the subject moved from location to location within the stage (I had my highlight clipping warning enabled). It was quite taxing, but certainly good practice and skill sharpening experience.

As always; any tips, suggestions on how you shoot these would be most appreciated. Here are just a few samples (hope you don't mind) .. try not to laugh so hard. (resized for posting, otherwise straight out of the camera)
Canon 1Dmk3
Canon 70-200 f/2.8L
No flash used
ISO1600
Spot
Manual setting with varying exposure settings.

























Of course, I'm not use to the color casts, etc.

Cheers!
Dave



Mar 18, 2012 at 05:05 AM
Peter Figen
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p.1 #2 · Does anyone have this problem ...


I've shot many thousands of live concert images in the last few years, and the best technique I've come up with is to use Av (Aperture Priority), usually having the lens wide open. I have the metering set to evaluative and am using single point AF points usually near the edge of the AF pattern somewhere. After you do this for some time, you will start to get a feel for what the right exposure compensation for any particular scene is going to be, and you can quickly compensate with your right thumb while looking through the viewfinder. If there's anything sort of bright in the center of the frame, somewhere around a +1 is a good place to start, but you mileage will vary. I only shoot RAW and I shoot a lot, as it's like shooting sports in the dark.


Mar 18, 2012 at 06:18 AM
cgardner
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p.1 #3 · Does anyone have this problem ...


The root cause of the problem is the metering is very good at evaluating scenes like a dark stage filled with bright spots of light. Canon's evalutive mode does a remarkably good job of ignoring bright sources (above the average of the scene) but the scene being darker than normal will usaully require + EC in auto meter modes to put more light on the faces of the performer.

My 70-200mm IS f2.8 is my lens of choice when shooting concerts and other stage performances. Most of the time it is wide open. Whether I'm shooting in AV mode or M I rely on the clipping warning in the playback to tell me what is exposed correctly and adjust accordingly, either with FEC (in Av mode) or a shutter thumbwheel adjustment. Both have the same net effect on the camera operation: changing the shutter speed.

The choice of using Av or M depends on the stage lighting and the type of shot I'm taking. For example if there is a spotlight on a performer and the background lighting is fluctuating the light on performer will stay relatively constant but in Av mode the backgound lighting will change the metering and shutter shot-to-shot. Those are the types of situations where I'll use M rather than Av.

When shooting RAW if you are willing to do some PP manipulation there is a huge amount of deal which can be pulled up out of the files in the RAW editor stage. That will also amplify the threshold noise below the sensor's range in the darkest shadows but with layering and masking it is possible to combine a "normal" SOOC version and a midtone lighten version of the single RAW file with layers and masks. Copy the liighten version on top of the SOOC shot, add a black mask to it, then paint white / erase the mask over the areas in the photos like the performers you want lighter.

Something similar can be done with a screen adjustment layer in PS to selectively lighten underexposed areas by the equivalent of a f/stop or more. I have a tutorial on adjustement layers on my site.

I routinely use duplicate and adjustment layers in my overall workflow so I factor that in to how I expose the files at capture. Using the clipping warning I try to keep the key lit highlights on the faces and clothing of the performers below clipping at capture, knowing I can selectively lighten other areas a stop or more as needed in PP.

Experience is the best teachter. Try everything and what works best for YOU will become second nature.
Chuck



Mar 18, 2012 at 11:37 AM
dortizphoto
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p.1 #4 · Does anyone have this problem ...


Hey thanks guys, that's some good advice. I found in Av mode I kept getting unacceptable (slow) shutter speeds at times, even at ISO1600. So since I needed the shots I went manual, metered to what I felt was an acceptable shutter/aperture combination then manually worked from there. I'll have to try partial metering the next time and see what I get. It was work, having to constantly adjust shutter/aperture and just when I thought I had a fix on it, on came the spot lights in varying colors and intensity.

I know I need practice, but given the circumstances I think I did pretty well.

Thanks again guys,
Dave



Mar 19, 2012 at 01:51 AM
Peter Figen
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p.1 #5 · Does anyone have this problem ...


Dave - If you keep shooting low light concert, you're going to find yourself wanting lenses faster than f/2.8. And 2.8 on a zoom is not the same as 2.8 on a prime either. My favorites are, in no particular order, the 24L 1.4, 35L 1.4, 85L 1.2, 135L 2.0 and of course and without peer, the 200L 1.8. It's that last lens that has proven itself over and over in the worst club lighting, being exceptionally sharp wide open and even wide open with a 1.4 converter, and focusing fast as hell in almost any light. It's the lens that tells anyone interested that you're a serious photographer.


Mar 19, 2012 at 02:36 AM
dortizphoto
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p.1 #6 · Does anyone have this problem ...


Peter- Thanks for the valued advice. However, I was under the impression we can achieve a desired shutter speed by upping the ISO value. I do have my trusty Canon 50/f1.4 prime, but it's not the fastest focussing lens, and I needed more reach for this shoot.

I think the Canon 1D3 yields acceptable noise at ISO1600, which allowed me to acquire the shutter speeds I sought. However, if the image quality of the fine lenses you've described surpasses that of the Canon 70-200 f/2.8L then that's certainly understandable.

Thanks again for the advice.

Regards,
Dave



Mar 19, 2012 at 02:57 AM
Peter Figen
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p.1 #7 · Does anyone have this problem ...


Being able to shoot at ISO 1600 or 3200 is great, and maybe the new cameras will up that a notch or two as well, but anything you can do to up your shutter speed is going to benefit if you're trying to stop the action. In addition, the added separation of a stop or more faster lens makes a palpable improvement when shooting concert images. Often there's crap in the background where you just don't want it. The fast lenses really do help there. You are right about the 50 1.4. Not a bad lens but pretty slow to focus. The 85 is super slow, but if you start with it very close to where it needs to be focused, it's not that bad.

I'm going to post a few shots from a band I used to shoot all the time, mostly because my girlfriend played in the band. What I found in the course of shooting night after night was that I got a chance to go back and re-do shots that I almost got, and the more I did it, the more comfortable the band was having me around. There are plenty of backstage shot that will probably never see the light of day, but let's just say that the Whiskey A GoGo was quite interesting.

The EXIF data helps in these cases. Hopefully this helps get the idea across.




  i    85mm    f/1.6    1/400s    3200 ISO    +1.7 EV  






  Canon EOS-1Ds Mark III    135mm    f/2.0    1/200s    1600 ISO    +0.3 EV  






  i    280mm    f/2.5    1/250s    3200 ISO    +1.0 EV  






  i    135mm    f/2.0    1/500s    1600 ISO    +0.7 EV  




Mar 19, 2012 at 05:17 AM
Peter Figen
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p.1 #8 · Does anyone have this problem ...


And a few more




  i    200mm    f/1.8    1/160s    3200 ISO    0.0 EV  







Leica 28mm 2.8 f/2.8

  Canon EOS-1Ds Mark III    f/0.0    1/80s    1600 ISO    +0.7 EV  






  ?i    280mm    f/2.5    1/400s    1600 ISO    -0.3 EV  






  Canon EOS-1Ds Mark III    280mm    f/2.5    1/60s    1600 ISO    +0.3 EV  




Mar 19, 2012 at 05:23 AM
Brandon Mizar
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p.1 #9 · Does anyone have this problem ...


Great stuff Peter!


Mar 19, 2012 at 07:13 AM
Peter Figen
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p.1 #10 · Does anyone have this problem ...


Brandon - Thanks. What I was trying to illustrate here for Dave was that lenses sometimes can make a difference, but how you use them matters as well. Dynamic framing and expression are really important for great performance shots and more often than not, tighter is better. When I shoot these types of images, I'm really trying to convey the feeling and mood of the music through a different medium, which isn't all that easy. Performers, at least these ones were never still for even a moment, so capturing that micro-second that tells the story and is still acceptably sharp is never easy. The last shot of Tom was only 1/60th with a 200mm 1.8 and the 1.4 on top. A 60th with a 280mm is not easy when people are moving, but it can be done. Same with Dawn's ass - just enough movement to tell the story but sharp enough to keep it interesting. I've literally got another thousand of this band and more of the current bands Gee plays with.

I would say to Dave that getting to know the groups is the best advice. I'm treated as part of the band wherever we go and whenever I can, I try to befriend the lighting technician to have him/her work the lights in my favor. We're really at their mercy and some many clubs are beyond dismal in regards to lighting, with the worst being the ones that are changing every third of a second or timed to the beat. Other clubs like The El Rey Theater here in L.A. have some of the best stage lighting I've ever seen - the shot of Joel Easton playing his one-string slide.

Most of what I shoot in clubs is on a carbon Gitzo with an RRS-55 set pretty loose, so I can have the support but also be able to move at will. I'm also using single point AF points chosen with the thumb toggle switch and every AF lens and converter combo has been AF Micro Adjusted to each 1DsIII body.

I'm not so much about a lot of heavy lifting in post with images shot at 1600 ISO. They really fall apart fast if you need to open them up too much, but I am fully about processing at least three different tiffs from the RAW and blending them to their best advantage in Ps. No reason not to try and pull the most out of each image. Canon hi iso files have a lot of magenta-green color noise that needs to be dealt with. The luminance noise doesn't bother me nearly as much

It also might be interesting to see how auto-bracketing is going to work with the new cameras hitting the market soon. Think about a 1Dx shooting a five shot bracket in under half a second. In any event, I'm very curious to see how the 1Dx and/or 5DIII perform in real world minimal lighting situations and not the test images we've seen floating around the web so far.



Mar 19, 2012 at 07:48 AM
 

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dortizphoto
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p.1 #11 · Does anyone have this problem ...


WOW!! They say "A picture says a thousand words" and now I know what they mean. Peter; your shots are awesome, tack sharp and certainly tell a story. I love the captures, timing, lighting and everything about them. It almost makes you feel like you're there. So I gather your take is "tight is better" and I can certainly see why.

Thanks for the info, the great samples and advice my friend -- I humbly appreciate it. Also, if you have a few more you'd like to share (with exif), I'd LOVE to see more of your work.

Thanks for sharing.

Cheers!
Dave



Mar 19, 2012 at 03:15 PM
Peter Figen
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p.1 #12 · Does anyone have this problem ...


Dave - I wouldn't say that tighter is always better. It all depends on the image and what you're trying to say. I actually try to shoot cinematically - establishing, medium and tight to cover everything and then choose what seems to work the best. I'll post a few more examples later on but have to polish off a CD cover design this morning and get it uploaded tonight.


Mar 19, 2012 at 04:56 PM
dortizphoto
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p.1 #13 · Does anyone have this problem ...


OK thanks Peter -- looking forward to it.

Dave



Mar 19, 2012 at 05:09 PM
Peter Figen
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p.1 #14 · Does anyone have this problem ...


I dug up a few more while taking a break from moving text around.




  i    24mm    f/1.4    1/8s    3200 ISO    +1.3 EV  






  Canon EOS-1Ds Mark III    24mm    f/2.0    1/250s    1600 ISO    0.0 EV  






  Canon EOS-1Ds Mark III    f/0.0    1/50s    1600 ISO    +1.3 EV  






  Canon EOS-1Ds Mark III    f/0.0    1/125s    1600 ISO    +1.0 EV  




Mar 19, 2012 at 06:25 PM
dortizphoto
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p.1 #15 · Does anyone have this problem ...


Stunning Peter, just plain stunning. Maybe one day I'll be able to emulate such fine work. Thanks for sharing, I intend to adjust my style and try your method. When I do, I'll keep you posted.

Regards,
Dave



Mar 19, 2012 at 11:51 PM
teebat
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p.1 #16 · Does anyone have this problem ...


Brandon Mizar wrote:
Great stuff Peter!


+1



Mar 20, 2012 at 01:31 AM
Peter Figen
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p.1 #17 · Does anyone have this problem ...


Dave - The main thing is to shoot a lot and keep going back week after week, noting from the previous week where and what can be improved upon. I was trying to capture the mood and color and even the sound of the band in two dimensional images, and some of these clubs were pretty weak on the lighting. The comments I always heard were that you could almost tell what the band sounded like just by seeing the images. I don't know if that was my original goal, but I'll take that compliment. It goes deeper than that as I was always trying to show each individual in their own best light. The more you shoot, the more it will come naturally. It didn't hurt that this particular band was full of practically vaudevillian characters and enough fishnet to go around. And the last shot is of Gee Rabe, L.A's Accordion Diva and my sweetheart, who lives with me in Culver City with our dog Josie and her twenty-six (and counting...) accordions.


Mar 20, 2012 at 02:10 AM
rico
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p.1 #18 · Does anyone have this problem ...


Brass, booty, and accordion - that's one heck of a band!


Mar 20, 2012 at 03:57 AM
dortizphoto
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p.1 #19 · Does anyone have this problem ...


Peter -- I was under the impression this was your wife ...






I received your PM and I thank you for your time and advice. I'll certainly keep in touch and will let you know when I shoot one of these again. This was a photojournalist assignment, so it's not something I do on a regular basis.

Cheers!
Dave



Mar 20, 2012 at 04:39 PM
Peter Figen
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p.1 #20 · Does anyone have this problem ...


No, Neill is young enough to be my daughter.


Mar 20, 2012 at 04:55 PM
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