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Archive 2012 · Concert Photography - Help Me Decide Please
  
 
onegreatcity
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p.1 #1 · Concert Photography - Help Me Decide Please


I've been asked to shoot a friend's band in performance plus behind the scenes at their show this Friday night. They're a 5 piece but for this show they've enlisted some other local performers to join them on-stage for a few songs. At some point (the finale or encore) there could be as many as 10 or 12 folks up there.

The venue is cabaret style so no assigned seating, lots of dancing down front. Lighting is good, stage is elevated from the floor 3 - 4 feet. I should have the run of the joint, shooting from anywhere front of house, from the wings and back stage if I want.

For the first time ever I will be shooting with 2 bodies. I will have a 1d3 and a 5d2 at my disposal. I really don't want to change lenses during the performance, preferring to travel only with the 2 bodies/lenses plus batteries and extra cards.

OK, there's the set up; here's where you folks come in.

At my disposal I will have a Sigma 70-200 2.8 OS. In my opinion, this is a no brainer for the OS and the focal range. What should I choose with my 2nd lens? I have access to the following:

- Canon 24-104 IS f/4
- Canon 40mm f/2.8
- Canon 16-35 IS f/2.8
- Sigma 50mm f/1.4

Right now, I'm leaning toward using the Sigma 50 I expect the available light back stage will be very limited. If I go this route, I'd put the 50mm on the FF 5d2 so as not to lose any more at the 'wide' end. That means I'd have the 70-200 on the 1.3 crop for a bit of extra reach from the wings and down front.

How does this set up sound? Logical or am I missing something? Lastly, any pointers on using two bodies? I'd like to not bash into people or things with the 70-200 hanging off my shoulder!

Thanks folks, looking forward to some guidance...



Nov 21, 2012 at 04:33 AM
saneproduction
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p.1 #2 · Concert Photography - Help Me Decide Please


Bring the 50 and the 16-35 in addition to your 70-200. Is the light level in the room good enough for 2.8? That is usually my problem. I shoot bands often at 1.2-1.4 at 1/125-1/250 and ISO 3200-6400. I have hardly ever been able to shoot a 2.8 lens at a concert. The 200L 1.8L (or 135L), 85 1.2II are my staples along with the 50, 35 and 24 L.


Nov 21, 2012 at 05:13 AM
StillFingerz
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p.1 #3 · Concert Photography - Help Me Decide Please


I agree with Sane, add or rent the 200/135 if you can...if you cant, rent an 85 f1.8 and put it on your 1D3 body! If you're going to be out in the crowd, practice a bunch in low light with that 70-200 f2.8...it's tough being your 1st gig, enjoy it and learn from the experience, and my best to you on the shoot

Here's a shot from a recent recital, a friend's daughter and teacher on stage, shot with an EF 50 f1.4, the studio is not well lit, I got several good shots with a 50D crop body; I was about 15ft from front of stage, without flash.





  Canon EOS 50D    EF50mm f/1.4 USM lens    50mm    f/1.4    1/60s    320 ISO    0.0 EV  




Nov 21, 2012 at 05:36 AM
scottam10
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p.1 #4 · Concert Photography - Help Me Decide Please


+1 on the 50mm and 16-35 in addition to the 70-200

If you've got enough light for f/2.8 that's great, but if light is dim then you'll need the 50mm for the wide aperture

The 16-35 will give you a very different perspective to the 70-200, you might have trouble taking in the whole stage with a 50mm especially with 10-12 performers

RE working with multiple bodies: you'll want to sort out a way of carrying your gear before the gig...unless you've got a good system the other body will get in the way. It will probably be crowded, if it were me I'd just carry one body and change lenses.

I wish I had a 16-35 with IS :-p



Nov 21, 2012 at 06:13 AM
Daan B
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p.1 #5 · Concert Photography - Help Me Decide Please


Be prepared. Check out the light on another night and measure the light any place you are going to shoot. This will tell you wether 2.8 is enough to counter shake and to stop motion (if desired). This will also tell you which lenses to bring. If 2.8 (icombination with high ISo values) will do the trick, I would bring the 16-35 and maybe 70-200. My guess is you'll be using the 50 a lot though. Have fun


Nov 21, 2012 at 06:20 AM
eosfun
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p.1 #6 · Concert Photography - Help Me Decide Please


I do this kind of assignments with my fastest lenses, the 24L, 35L, 85L. Sometimes I rent or borrow a 200/2.0L IS. I always have the 70-200/2.8L IS with me too. The primes are there to save me if the light goes down too much. Most of the time the zoom with IS is what I use. You can't always zoom with your feet, you don't want to disturb the audience and the artists. Since you have slower glass in general I would suggest you take your 70-200/2.8 as well as your "standard" lens. Forget about the 4.0 zoom, I am afraid you won't be able to use it in that kind of lighting conditions. The 50/1.4 is great. As suggested above, renting some faster glass might be a good idea. To own that fast lenses often is too expensive, but for this kind of applications it might be the saver if you can go to 1.4 or 1.2.

Don't be afraid to use high ISO and try to expose spot on. Well exposed pictures in high ISO have acceptable noise levels. Complaints about noise most often have their background in a bad exposed shot, rather than equipment that is not up to the task. I am in spot metering mode 90% of the time. Use your histograms to check, because in dim light the impression your LCD gives from artificial lighting can be inaccurate. In general the risk for overexposure is greater than inexperienced photographers believe. The light is low, but you don't want to expose for the deep shadows. It's about the faces of the artists and they should not be blown out. Vulnerable are white hats and caps, and bold heads, since the light comes from above most of the time. If the light is constant you can switch to M mode. Since most of the lighting is probably weird colours, don't pay too much attention to white balance on stage, but shoot RAW. Shoot RAW anyway, it will give you the headroom for postprocessing to compensate the high contrast and minor exposure errors.

In general I don't see reason why you shouldn't change lenses, unless your are on the dance floor in an overcrowded situation all the time. Shooting the same performers with different lenses from different perspectives can make the difference between a great series and a boring one with all the same kind of pictures all the time, but just some different facial expressions of the artist.

Enjoy the music, try to tell the story of what is in the music.

Make shots of details. Flowers, posters and banners, microphones, instruments, beer, whine glasses, decoration, etc. Also make portraits from interesting people in the audience. Shoot the make up and visagy sessions (if appl.). Back stage during the preparations and break is often a great place. The most intensive shooting time often is just before the performance, during a break and right after the concert. During the concert itself just a few shots often are enough. Since your cameras do not have a really silent mode, try to shoot when sound energy is high and not during low volume parts of the music. It speaks for itself, you don't want to disturb the performance. I assume your friends are aware of your role as their photographer, but still there is nothing wrong to discuss and prepare your photographic plans with them so that you don't have to work on their nerves if you do something that would otherwise be unexpected for them. Often some shots from behind the stage shooting the artists from the back and involving the audience in your photos have a great visual effect. Discuss with your friends wether this is desirable and possible and go back stage for that kind of shots.

A last tip: wear black or dark clothing. It will be appreciated. There will always be a few who see you as the papparazzi. In a white T shirt or otherwise being very visibile attracts more attention than most people appreciate. In black you disappear in the dark

And as Daan said, have fun. Have EOSfun Music and photography are a great combination.



Nov 21, 2012 at 08:56 AM
CW100
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p.1 #7 · Concert Photography - Help Me Decide Please


scottam10 wrote:
+1 on the 50mm and 16-35 in addition to the 70-200

If you've got enough light for f/2.8 that's great, but if light is dim then you'll need the 50mm for the wide aperture

p


+2





Nov 21, 2012 at 11:51 AM
ukkisavosta
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p.1 #8 · Concert Photography - Help Me Decide Please


Great tips by eosfun!

I've photographed a couple of my friend's jazz concerts, and I've pretty much had my Sigma 85 glued to the camera, apart from some occasional shots with the Samyang 35.

I've only concentrated on the artists, and I also think it's important to try and capture the atmosphere and feeling of the music in the images. Anyway, I'm going to try and shoot the audience and other details as well next time.

I mostly shoot in manual mode after metering the correct exposure for the artists' face. Last time I used f/1.4, 1/250 and ISO1600 for the Sigma. Here are some examples









Jaakko



Nov 21, 2012 at 11:55 AM
onegreatcity
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p.1 #9 · Concert Photography - Help Me Decide Please


Thanks for all the responses, gotta love the community here at FM. I'd love get faster glass overall for this event but I'm no pro and this is purely a favour for a friend so I won't be laying out the cash. Now, having said that, I might be able to wrangle an 85 1.8 and that would be a great addition.

To clarify, I have shot some music in the past but it's nothing I do on a regular basis.

In my mind I was ruling out the 16-35, thinking I'd seldom want to go that wide but I'm re-thinking that, based on your responses. Oh, and yeah scottam10, no IS on that baby obviously, my typo!

@ eosfun, thanks for your advice. I always shoot RAW and in manual, I will meter in spot mode as you suggest. Good tips too about bald heads and white apparel, I'll be mindful of those challenges. As for the music, I'm quite familiar with the band so it should be good fun to shoot. I also enjoy the detail shots, reaction shots and the band has given me free run of the venue. Black clothing, check!

ukkisavosta, thanks for the sample photos. These have a great feel and I love the b & w treatment.

Should I eliminate one of the camera bodies and, as some have suggested, carry one body only with various lenses in a small bag? If so, what body would you shoot with? 5d2 or 1d3?

I'll throw up a couple of shots I've taken under similar lighting conditions, different venue, in my next post.

Thanks again!






Nov 21, 2012 at 05:06 PM
onegreatcity
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p.1 #10 · Concert Photography - Help Me Decide Please


Some samples, all I believe with the 5D2 and Canon 70-200 IS ii...




  Canon EOS 5D Mark II    200mm    1/250s    2000 ISO    0.0 EV  






  Canon EOS 5D Mark II    200mm    1/160s    2000 ISO    0.0 EV  






  Canon EOS 5D Mark II    200mm    1/60s    1250 ISO    0.0 EV  






  Canon EOS 5D Mark II    140mm    1/13s    1250 ISO    0.0 EV  




Nov 21, 2012 at 05:10 PM
 

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gdanmitchell
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p.1 #11 · Concert Photography - Help Me Decide Please


I'm currently working on a long-term project with a slightly different sort of musicians - a couple of professional "classical" orchestras. But the issues are similar in many ways.

Although I'm usually a zoom kinda' guy, for this stuff I mostly shoot large aperture primes. My main go-to lenses are the 24mm f/1.4, the 50mm f/1.4, and the 135mm f/2. And, yes, I crank the ISO well beyond what I might do for other types of shooting. Yes, you'll get more noise - but you can improve that a lot in post, and frankly a little bit of noise in shots of such subjects isn't really a problem and can even produce a nice effect.

If I were using two bodies - typically I'm not - and shooting primes, I might put the 24mm lens on one and the 135mm on the other. With one body, oddly, my first-choice starting lens is often the 50mm, with the others ready to go if I decide to approach things a different way.

Since you have backstage access - and I suspect you may not be subject to some of the awful controls in place at high-end professional performances regarding time and shooting location and ownership of images - take advantage of that. Some of the most interesting stuff happens backstage, and there you can often work with more freedom, perhaps engaging performers in conversation to gain their trust. Plus, the backstage images can create a sense of giving your viewer access to what they otherwise don't see when the acts are on stage, and this creates an added level of intimacy and interest. The wings can also be a great location from which to shoot stage action - you might shoot into the lighting (directly or slightly from the side) to get dramatic effects and to potentially create a POV that seems like that of a performer on stage rather than a listener in the audience.

When it comes to photographing performers "in the act," timing is everything. (Well, OK, lighting and position are important, too.) Really watch them and start to try to anticipate those instants when you see an expression, a position of hands and body, a glance, and so forth. Otherwise you just end up with snapshot of people making music. (It isn't easy, and you'll have a lot of miscues.)

Finally, don't neglect a lot of "other stuff" that can be photographically interesting in this environment - equipment, bits of things suggesting the world of performance (small items, etc), the people watching the show, folks involved in the performance who are not the performers (stage crew, managers, etc), and more.

Good luck!

Dan



Nov 21, 2012 at 05:23 PM
lwrnclightner
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p.1 #12 · Concert Photography - Help Me Decide Please


Depending on the stage lighting I would have to disagree with f2.8 not being wide enough. I only use zooms when shooting this stuff and with iso 3200-6400 on 1d3 I get tv of 250-320 and anything slower in most instances is overexposed. Now depending on how the stage is lit, alot of times certain parts of the stage is under lit, like the drummer or base players etc. Then you have to slow down the shutter and time your shots.

Take your 70-200, 50 and 16-35 for wide stage shots, or even close ups of if you want to get some cool distorted shots.

The cool part is that even if the stage is poorly lit and you must shoot at 6400iso and you get really noisy shots, just convert em to b/w and you still might get some really stellar retro looking performance shots.



Nov 21, 2012 at 07:24 PM
Ralph Conway
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p.1 #13 · Concert Photography - Help Me Decide Please


If the stage is lit by some spots, it is not that difficult. Visit my website:

Choose the item "artists" - (very) few of the life pictures where shot at 1.4 (50mm Canon and Sigma), some at 2.8 (100mm L) and most of them at 4.0 (70-200 L).

Ralph



Nov 21, 2012 at 07:50 PM
JimmyJames
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p.1 #14 · Concert Photography - Help Me Decide Please


I like shooting 1/3 over in low light which usually hides some high ISO noise. Also raise the black point slightly in PS and your be solid.












Nov 22, 2012 at 02:50 AM
onegreatcity
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p.1 #15 · Concert Photography - Help Me Decide Please


Well, I'm still going through the images from the Friday night show but for those of you who recommended taking the 16-35mm, thank you!

The finale brought friends, family and fans to the stage and it was the best kind of mayhem! You can't see everyone but easily 30+ people dancing, playing, singing.

I did simplify, sticking with the 5d2 and leaving my 1d3 at home. In the end, the vast majority of my shots were with either the wide angle or the 70-200mm, leaving the 50 stuck in the bag most of the time. I spent the night at 3200 ISO to keep shutter speeds up. The lighting was all over the map and people changed spots frequently. As discussed, the wardrobe became a factor too, from pure white (bathed in front light) to the black shirt of the lead singer. Many, many challenges and as often as not I got my butt kicked.

Overall? Great experience and I've got enough keepers to make the night memorable. I'll try to post more shots once I've had a chance to rake through them a bit.

Once again, a big thank you for the suggestions and advice!







Nov 25, 2012 at 05:13 PM
Ralph Conway
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p.1 #16 · Concert Photography - Help Me Decide Please


You are welcome. And yes, please show us more.

Ralph



Nov 25, 2012 at 11:14 PM
jeremy_clay
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p.1 #17 · Concert Photography - Help Me Decide Please


Go 24-70 and 70-200 in whatever brand you're comfortable with.























































Nov 26, 2012 at 02:52 AM
Tom Dix
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p.1 #18 · Concert Photography - Help Me Decide Please


I typically bring 2.0 and faster glass. Both jClay and Ralph have terrific images with 2.8 and 4 glass. Big ups to both Jeremy and Ralph


Nov 26, 2012 at 05:00 AM
BrianO
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p.1 #19 · Concert Photography - Help Me Decide Please


onegreatcity wrote:
Some samples, all I believe with the 5D2 and Canon 70-200 IS ii...


And all shot at f/2.8 (wide open for that lens), which explains the various shutter speed and ISO numbers. Pretty good low light performance.



Nov 26, 2012 at 06:25 AM
onegreatcity
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p.1 #20 · Concert Photography - Help Me Decide Please


Yikes, tough to follow jeremy_clay's post! Still haven't finalized a look per se but here's a taste...






















Nov 28, 2012 at 11:32 PM
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