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| p.1 #4 · Need help photographing first concert - Lindsey Stirling |
I've shot lots of concerts and other stage performances in all kinds of lighting situations and venues, so here are some tips. As Jim says, the ambient lighting will likely be dark, but the artist will be sufficiently lit to give you a decent exposure. The lights themselves will be bright, and if you get them in your frame, that's a plus. Black is black, so don't worry about that. My starting point for any stage performance is ISO 800 or faster, shutter priority at 1/250, and see what I get in terms of exposure on the face. If that's not enough, especially on a modern camera like the D800 or D4 (though I'm a Canon guy), just ride the ISO up to where you get good exposure at 1/250. If you can get up to 1/320 or higher, then that's great, especially for a fast moving performer. I use center-weighted average metering; don't try to spot meter a performer on stage. It's not a portrait setting, and you're likely to miss the spot more often than hit it. Metering, focusing, and recomposing will guarantee a missed shot every time, unless she's stationary. I do use the center focus point pretty exclusively, and shoot wide enough to get enough latitude to crop to an interesting angle. Be careful with your fast primes. If you're up close, the depth of field at f/1.4 will be extremely shallow, and a well-exposed but out of focus shot is useless. Almost all of my shots are at f/2.8, and depth of field with a 70-200 is good.
Use the first few frames to establish a good setting on the face, and then just go for it. I wouldn't switch over to manual exposure at that point, because conditions will change. Stay in shutter-priority, and then just go with it. Look for moments; anticipate the performer's moves. If you know the music, you're way ahead. Once you've established your baseline exposure, you can keep up with the performance. Don't wait for a shot to be there or you'll miss it. Anticipate it and go for it.
Here's a sample of a nighttime outdoor concert shot, focusing on the main performer, Greg Adams. Though he's pretty stationary at this moment, I could capture any motion he would give at these settings. He's well exposed, the lights in the back give visual interest, and black is black. Good to go. Easy.