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12-04-2018, 01:01 AM   #1
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Photographing a band in a bar

This weekend I am going to see my sons band in a bar and I want to give myself the best chance of decent shots. I am taking my K3 and one of these, but I don't know which. I am leaning towards the pancolor

Yashica yashinon 55mm f1.7
CZT pancolor 50mm f1.8
40mm DX f2.8
35mm plastic fantastic f2.4

I have some nice wider lenses but they are mostly f2.8. I also have my Olympus stylus 1s which gives me f2.8 from 28-300mm. My plan is shooting wide open at 1/200-1/250 with an iso hopefully no higher than 1600. I have never done this with any degree of seriousness so a bit of PF wisdom would be a big help.

Thanks

12-04-2018, 02:14 AM - 1 Like   #2
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I have the 40 and the 35 myself, but for the bar shoot, I would go with the 35. It is already super nice wide open, and will give you a slightly wider view. I bar shoots and then the 34 is my favorite.

But I think you can go down with your shutterspeed, if the band is pretty static, I would even do a few shots at 1/100. But if they move a lot, then 1/160 should be enough.

But good luck with ISO1600, I would say more realistic is ISO3200-6400, unless the stage is well lit.
12-04-2018, 02:37 AM - 2 Likes   #3
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Are you fine with manual focus shooting events, Cerebrum? They're your fastest lenses.

A biggie that will keep your ISO lower than your camera suggests is to expose for the highlights with spot mode - this will usually be the band's faces because their clothes and background are typically dark. Then in post set the exposures elsewhere in the picture … you might want to lift their clothes and instruments, while crushing to black much of the background.
12-04-2018, 04:30 AM - 2 Likes   #4
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Stability is your friend in low light situations like a bar. Resting the base of the camera on something solid or using a monopod will help a ton. Also, if you don't know the venue you will need to go prepared to shoot wider. 50mm seems short but in a small venue it can be too long.

12-04-2018, 04:49 AM - 1 Like   #5
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I agree with Clackers, stage lighting is usually designed to emphasize highlights, so shooting with too wide an aperture will blow them out, so lean towards underexposure.. Your camera will try to make the darkened bar as bright as the lighted stage, so use manual settings or drop the EV to give you options for a longer shutter speed and lower ISO. Stability is a must, even having a small Gorillapod to prop on the edge of something, or stabilize on a table top if you are sitting, will go a long way.
I'd bring the 55mm for closeups, and I always have my DA 40mm XS handy for a quick swap.

IT is always good to watch the show and adapt, but a little planning goes a long way. If you haven['t been to the bar before, check it out for angles, sightlines, and how close you can be to the stage, and how long you can be near the front of the stage blocking views, Some clubs will not let you touch the stage or lean on in for stability, knowing that beforehand helps you plan. Check for ambient lighting. Ask your son, and the lighting guy, (if there is one) if there are any especially cool lighting effects planned so you can anticipate them and be in a good spot to capture.
Also, if possible, watch the band rehearse, get an idea of what the members are like on stage, so you can get an idea of how and when you should capture them. Are they shoe gazers near the back of the stage, musos who spend more time looking at their fingers than their instruments, or performers who prop their feet on the footlights and monitors,, lean out over the edge of the stage, jump into the pit, or crowdsurf? Knowing the band will give you an idea of where to be to best capture them.
Talk to your son about the set list, if there is a time when a member gets a special solo, that is a good time to concentrate on that performer. This would also allow you to get some wide shots of the band as a whole, then swap lenses to concentrate on individuals, which is really the more important type of performance shot.

In the end, enjoy it and do not sweat or stress, have fun, enjoy the show! I look forward to see the results.
12-04-2018, 06:16 AM - 1 Like   #6
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I use a k3ii and primes for concert photos. I set my camera for concert photos as such:
- RAW output, ISO a stop or two lower than what's needed to avoid blowing the highlights (this means 400 to 800 depending on the venue)
- M mode if the light is static, or Av if the light is changing a lot.
- AF-C with spot-9 (I pick the point, the camera can use a patch of 9). Auto-9 is too imprecise, in which the camera decides which of the initial 9 it starts with could pick up a mic stand. If your son's band is not going to move much, perhaps you can go with the manual focus lens, but expect it to be a challenge.
- Continuous shooting. The lower the shutter speed I have to use (1/125 for rock bands is low, 1/60 for more static musicians is often fine), the more photos I shoot. It's a compromise, of course, as the scene keeps moving and it's not the same, but 1/500 shutter is usually not an option in small bars
- For lenses, I use from the DA 21 to the DFA 100 macro. More often than not, it's the FA 43 and DA 70.
- enable sensor stabilization

About what to do, just enjoy the music, try to get a sense for what makes them look their best before you start taking photos. I move around as I need to, usually people are nice and understand that you'll take a few photos and then move out of their way. Watch out for random stuff in the background, such as lit exit signs and shiny objects. I sometimes clone them if they're too obtrusive, sometimes position myself so they're hidden.

Last edited by aaacb; 12-04-2018 at 06:28 AM.
12-04-2018, 07:20 AM - 1 Like   #7
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Last saturday I was shoot my oldest's son's Lego League competition (lego robot competition for 5th and 6th graders) and the lighting was downright terrible. The only light was from the illuminated arches above each competition platform in a school gymnasium. I didn't know what distance or lighting conditions I would be shooting at so brought a couple of zooms and the 35mm f/2.4 plastic fantastic. The competition shots were all from up in the observation area above the gym which was very dark. The zoom I used there was the SMC Pentax A 70-210 f/4 and used it at 70mm or ~135mm, ISO5000, f/5 (to make up for me possibly missing the focus some), 1/100-1/125s exclusively from up there. I will see about posting one of the pictures tonight as an addendum to this post so you have some idea of what I got and just how dark it was.

Given that bars are substantially smaller bring the 35mm plastic fantastic the 40mm and the 50mm and see which one give you the best framing and put the other 2 away. I took a couple of test shots before the kids started competing so I could get things dialed in too. All your lenses that you are thinking of bringing are at least one stop faster than what I was shooting with from above so think of the example shot I will post as kind of a worst case for expectations. Don't fear the noise post processing can do wonders.

Addendum:
Here is the picture I promised.
ISO 5000
1/100s
f/5.
The only lights were the 2 light bars above the competition tables and what was coming in from the doors at either end of the gym and the one door to the seats above. Camera was my K-3 lens was the SMC Pentax A 70-210mm f/4 one touch zoom.

Last edited by MossyRocks; 12-04-2018 at 08:50 PM. Reason: Adding promised picture
12-04-2018, 07:49 AM - 2 Likes   #8
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Be sure to turn on Highlight Alerts and watch for the dreaded flashing red of blown out highlights. I’ve shot several bands and the spotlights are pretty bright compared to the rest of the room. Set your Exposure Compensation somewhere around -2.0 and -3.0.

12-04-2018, 09:04 AM - 1 Like   #9
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If the bar is open and not crowded, a single lens will work because you can move in close to get portraits of the players and then move back to get shots of the whole band. But if things are tight or you prefer to stay seated in one location, then multiple lenses or a versatile zoom will be needed. I typically bring a 28, a 50, and a 100 or 135.

Whether shooting wide open, 1/200 second, ISO 1600 works will depend on the bar's lighting. I've been in a lot of bars and where it was simply too dark for that exposure. Don't be surprised if you need to shoot wide open, 1/30 second, and ISO 6400. Also, wide open may not give you the depth of field you need for the shot which also will push the exposure toward slower shutter times and higher ISO.

Finally, think about where you will sit/stand relative to the players, their instruments, and microphones. Sitting dead center sometimes has the problem of the microphones obscuring the player's faces. Whether you decide to sit/stand on the left or right will depend on players, where your son is positioned, etc.

Have fun!
12-04-2018, 12:36 PM - 2 Likes   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by photoptimist Quote
Finally, think about where you will sit/stand relative to the players, their instruments, and microphones. Sitting dead center sometimes has the problem of the microphones obscuring the player's faces. Whether you decide to sit/stand on the left or right will depend on players, where your son is positioned, etc.
Very important. Most guitarists are right handed, the guitar's headstock often obscures their faces when shooting from right to left..


In my experience, there are three "zones" of lighting in bars- very bright on faces in front, not so bright on the sidemen, and very dim, sometimes over the whole band. If it is dark, You might be forced out of your comfort zone and have to use high ISO and low shutter speed. If that is the case, go with it, try to anticipate what the performers are going to do and catch the peaks. You have to shoot a lot, chimp your images during the breaks to see what works and what doesn't. I find manual focus is easier with bands—preset the focus on the microphone and then move a few inches closer to get the face in focus.


Don't be afraid to shoot in bizarre lighting, sometimes the wilder lighting schemes make for better images:


Last edited by Cipher; 12-04-2018 at 07:44 PM. Reason: typo
12-04-2018, 06:36 PM   #11
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Maybe have a drink to calm your nerves, just don't overdo it. Good to have some type of game plan going in but you may not be perfect at first but keep shooting and adapting, you'll figure it out just like everyone one else has.
12-04-2018, 07:51 PM - 3 Likes   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by Cerebum Quote
I am taking my K3 ....My plan is shooting wide open at 1/200-1/250 with an iso hopefully no higher than 1600.
Run your ISO as high as you need. Here's 16,000, 12,800 and 8000 respectively. Photographing dance performances, my base ISO is 3200. Shoot RAW, set ACR Luminance Noise Reduction to 50 and if you need to print large, I recommend Imagenomic Noiseware




12-04-2018, 09:29 PM - 1 Like   #13
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Lots of good info in this thread already, and I don't have much I can offer to expand on the what's and why's.

As I was a neophyte in a similar situation a couple of months back I thought I could add a few points from the perspective of doing this for the first time out.

I had the opportunity recently to take some live performance music shots as a volunteer at a music festival on two nights at two different venues. My most current body is a K-r, and my fastest lens options are a couple of 50 1.7's, the M and an F. I have done lots of music performance photography at outdoor festivals, but this is the first time I have ever shot live performance indoors. The images are for my own enjoyment, although I have shared some of them with the performers.

I had read through other posts on the site to see what kind of tips were suggested, and decided to go with my F 50 1.7 on the K-r, and as a backup I took my K200D with A 135 2.8 as I am comfortable with that combo.

The post immediately above saying push the ISO as far as you can is a statement I would certainly endorse and something I will do next time I'm in a similar situation. I started out the first evening on straight Auto, then as I got a feel for the light and the kind of results I was getting I started trying different ISO and settings combinations. From looking at my straight out of the camera keepers, I suspect you will want to crank up the ISO.

I am glad I took the K200D along with me as a secondary. The first night I very briefly tried a few shots on the K-r with my 18-135 but put that back in the bag right away. So, started out the first night getting a few shots on the K200D with the F50 before I had a break in my duties to swap. The second night I got so trigger happy I needed to pull the K200 out as I had brought both of my K-r batteries but had forgotten my AA battery carrier at home. Using catch in focus with a manual lens is handy. I expect that as you're a manual lens user that you're comfortable with your focus options on the K-3 but if you're not familiar how it works, maybe do some test shooting before heading out.

I found that the 50 was a good focal length for the first venue where the performers were a solo act, trio and four piece on a tight stage. At the main stage for the second night, a wider lens would have been handy with six musicians and three of them out front singing. You have the advantage of already knowing the band, but you may want to pack along the 35 or 40 just in case.

I've included links to a few JPEG images I had already tossed in other threads just for comparison purposes to what has already been posted in this thread. K200D F50, K-r F50, K200D A 135. No cropping, no PP so you can have a look at the EXIF values if you like.

https://www.pentaxforums.com/forums/attachments/122-lens-clubs/430937d154247...b-imgp7995.jpg
https://www.pentaxforums.com/forums/attachments/122-lens-clubs/431157d154263...b-imgp6414.jpg
https://www.pentaxforums.com/forums/attachments/6-pentax-dslr-discussion/431...d-imgp6434.jpg

Last edited by YeOldePentaxian; 12-04-2018 at 09:30 PM. Reason: Typo
12-05-2018, 06:31 AM   #14
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You guys are the best thanks now, do I take my CZJ or my Tomioka (worse problems to have lol) I will be taking the 35mm to but I do quite fancy being able to selectively focus through people and mike stands I don't use catch in focus much because I often find the focus beep is either end of the in focus range and not bang in the sweet spot but I will give it a go. I am much more excited about my prospects now. Thanks for all the frankly brilliant advice


Ooooh, I could take my mamiya sekor 50mm

I possibly have too many options
12-05-2018, 08:46 AM - 1 Like   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by MossyRocks Quote
Last saturday I was shoot my oldest's son's Lego League competition (lego robot competition for 5th and 6th graders) and the lighting was downright terrible. The only light was from the illuminated arches above each competition platform in a school gymnasium. I didn't know what distance or lighting conditions I would be shooting at so brought a couple of zooms and the 35mm f/2.4 plastic fantastic. The competition shots were all from up in the observation area above the gym which was very dark. The zoom I used there was the SMC Pentax A 70-210 f/4 and used it at 70mm or ~135mm, ISO5000, f/5 (to make up for me possibly missing the focus some), 1/100-1/125s exclusively from up there. I will see about posting one of the pictures tonight as an addendum to this post so you have some idea of what I got and just how dark it was.

Given that bars are substantially smaller bring the 35mm plastic fantastic the 40mm and the 50mm and see which one give you the best framing and put the other 2 away. I took a couple of test shots before the kids started competing so I could get things dialed in too. All your lenses that you are thinking of bringing are at least one stop faster than what I was shooting with from above so think of the example shot I will post as kind of a worst case for expectations. Don't fear the noise post processing can do wonders.

Addendum:
Here is the picture I promised.
ISO 5000
1/100s
f/5.
The only lights were the 2 light bars above the competition tables and what was coming in from the doors at either end of the gym and the one door to the seats above. Camera was my K-3 lens was the SMC Pentax A 70-210mm f/4 one touch zoom.
At least you had a high contrast focal point..... The gym lights last weekend were a nightmare for getting good images. I've shot a LOT in gyms over the past 15 years but these lights were different and just really hard.

Gotta love FIRST Robotics!


I don't do a lot of post processing on the images because they're a courtesy for the various teams. They're on the State FIRST Flickr account unlocked so they can download them at full size and do with them as they wish.


Last edited by Docrwm; 12-05-2018 at 08:51 AM.
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