Where to start with Concert Photography…What to use, How to use it and Why it’s so exciting.
Shooting a live performance can be as exciting as extreme sports, like bungee jumping or the BIG ONE in Blackpool…all the hairs on your arms stand up…but you have to remain calm, and focus.
Concert photography, or ANY low light situations are the most challenging…so you will have to get your head VERY clear on what you have to do to get the best concert photography and to be consistant.
Where to start with concert photography – lenses.
I will cut to the chase to start with, before we look at alternative lenses…the best lens for low light, or concert photography is a Prime 85mm F=1.8 Nikon at around $500 or slightly cheaper Canon, it doesn’t matter, they are equally as good. The reason behind this? You only have one lens to concentrate on…it’s lightweight…so don’t need a camera bag (don’t even think about a camera bag in a crowded arena) and it’s FAST at 1.8.
TAMRON: 17-50mm 2.8 will give Nikon/Canon a run for the money.
SIGMA: 18-50 2.8 is as reliable as ever.
TOKINA: 16-50 2.8 is the widest and a bit expensive.
If you can’t afford to buy a lens of this nature BUT you have an opportunity to shoot a concert…HIRE one from somewhere like this.
What camera to use for concert photography.
Forget compacts and bridgies for concert photography…A dslr is mandatory for control of everything from settings to post processing in RAW…thats it…full stop. These days, it doesn’t really matter that much what make of camera…Nikon, Canon, Pentax…it’s just a matter of personal choice…like a car…Mercedes are just as good as a BMW, but have a different appeal. Personally i prefer Nikon for the simple fact that they are built like a tank…the last time i dropped my Nikon was on the cobbled streets of Venice…CRASH…batteries all over the place…i put the batteries back in and carried on like nothing had happened.
How to use your settings for concert photography.
Just remember to keep it simple…concert photography is just a low-light challenge…that’s all…ohhh and a crowd of thousands behind you.
Ideal settings for concert photography are:
AV or aperture priority mode…spot metering mode…multi shot mode…White Balance set to AUTO ( you can alter this in photoshop later if you wish to)…shoot in RAW for post processing and underexpose where you can…manual focus, as your auto-focus will be all over the place…ISO anywhere from 400 to 2000 depending on the light, but keep it as low as possible…histogram, make sure you can see it, rather than just checking your screen, check your histogram.
PRACTISE…PRACTISE…PRACTISE working your camera in the dark at home, at work during your lunch hour, cause thats exactly what you will have to do to be good enough to use your camera almost blindfolded. Imagine being in a pit in front of the stage, with the noise of the crowd behind you…even at a small venue…then the band come on stage and the adrenaline rush…there is no time to mess around with settings.
Press accreditation and the first 3 song Rule.
As well as sorting out your own insurance for this job…to secure the best position you will need press accreditation or a U.K. Press card and if you are lucky, you will get a 3 song rule limitation…which you think firstly…thats a bit mean, but actually it’s a good thing, as it gives you a bit of pressure to perform yourself, with a “window” of say 15-20 minutes of shooting…and as Chase Jarvis says…”just keep shooting till you get the shot”.
Besides anything else…20 minutes of adrenaline in a pit…front stage…is enough for anyone.
Soooo, you are now ready for your concert photography (make sure your memory card is not full) just some last things to have in your mind.
Firstly…security guards…what they say is gospel…end of!
KEEP moving if you can and try to draw the attention of say…the lead singer/guitarist to get closer…they might show off down the lens for a second…this is what you are looking towards. Also…instead of the obvious lead singer…look for other active band members who can demonstrate their own personality for you to capture in your concert photography.
As you are leaving the front of the stage…don’t forget the audience…there will be some great opportunities to snatch.
Thanks for looking at todays concert photography blog and have a great week…G
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