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02-27-2009, 03:41 AM   #1
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Shooting gigs!

A mate has asked me to shoot a gig for him.Never done one before so I'm just doing a bit of home work.Got a few Ideas on what i should do but I wondered if any one here does this sort of stuff with a K20D or similar and can offer some useful advice and maybe a link to some pics taken on a Pentax DSLR's.
So what I'm keen to kno is what's the best mode to be shooting in...M, Tv etc???
I'll be using a 17-70mm sigma so it should do the job as its only a small venue.


This is what I would start off on...
Shutter speed:180?
Aperture:2.8?
ISO:1600?
Continuous auto focus?
center focus?
Spot metering?
AWB?
Raw+?
Shooting mode single?

Anything I missed???

Thanx!!!


02-27-2009, 05:54 AM   #2
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when i'm shooting gigs, i'm shooting with FA50/1.4 lens mostly. it can be a bit too narrow sometimes, but i had no problems with that.

i try to keep shutter fairly fast, no slower than 1/30, so i usually shoot wide-open, aperture 1.4, and since K100Ds can be pretty noisy at ISO1600, i keep it at 800. spot/cwa/matrix metering depending on light conditions. AWB never, i customize my WB on site. i shoot in raw, so i can adjust WB later, those red spotlights on stage can be impossible to correct in jpegs, but i've been shooting in jpegs too, in many ocasions. continuous drive for some quick action shots.
i choose my focus point, but it's almost constantly on center, never on continuous AF, and i'm always ready to switch to MF, usually when there isn't enough light for AF.

try your own setting, try all what you can think of, that's the best way to learn what works the best for you.

Last edited by elkarrde; 03-02-2009 at 12:13 PM. Reason: damn typos :)
02-27-2009, 07:00 AM   #3
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I also primarily use the 50mm 1.4 - best versatility for changing light, allows you to go tripod-free. However, don't neglect going wide to capture the whole venue at once for a shot or two.

Shutter speed will be determined by lighting; in the shots in my gallery (also here - https://www.pentaxforums.com/forums/post-your-photos/52049-concert.html) I was doing 1/40 at f2.0 to f2.4, ISO 1600. Try to keep the aperture open to minimize dof - you may not have a choice anyways b/c of the lighting. What's the aperture range on the 17-70 you have?

Shoot RAW - it helps for wb and noise reduction, center focus. Your call on continuous vs. single shots; I've done both depending on the setting.

Again, so much depends on the venue, so try to arrive early and get a feel for things. Then take wayyy more shots than you think you'll need.

steve
02-27-2009, 03:07 PM   #4
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I do a lot of this photography, but not now with film, only in digital, but the same thoughts and practices apply to both mediums.

Flash is an absolute no at nearly all venues, for the benefit of the musicians and everyone else present at the venue. The use of flash also kills any of the great stage lighting that maybe present at the gig.

Firstly, it isnít easy; this type of photography requires high ISO's and fast glass, the higher and faster the better. The other option is shed loads of light, which you don't usually have, but can only dream of. :ugh:

Discuss with the band what they want and can expect from you, explain to them itís your first time (we all have to start sometime).

I usually run at 1600 ISO, at apertures between f1:1.2 up to f1:2.8 (if I'm lucky, when white spotlights are on) and this still only gives me shutter speeds of somewhere in the order of 1/30 to 1/200.

The trick is time your shot, I try to get at least one of the following into each shot, two is better and so on.

1) When action is slowest, (less blur).
2) Individuals directly looking at you (for eye contact).
3) At moments of great stage lighting.
4) An interesting position or pose.

Also remember to check out the tune up and sound check phase of the gig; you can get some great informal portraits, because they are unaware of you being there, the band will really appreciate some of these because itís often the real them.

Always wear black or very dark clothing, you will blend into the background of the stage, side stage, crowd or wherever you happen to be shooting from. This means you donít attract unwelcome attention from anyone and allows you to get on with the job in hand.

Above all else enjoy the experience, it's like all things the more you practice you get the better you become.

02-27-2009, 05:52 PM   #5
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QuoteOriginally posted by Simon23 Quote
So what I'm keen to kno is what's the best mode to be shooting in...M, Tv etc???
Whichever you're most comfortable with. I like M because I can set an exposure and leave it alone, and that's usually good enough. Maybe I'll notice the drummer is getting less light than everyone else and increase exposure a bit when shooting that way, but i can handle that. i don't generally like letting the camera shoose anything for me, because chances are pretty good I'm going to disagree half the time. But whatever lets you get exposure you want is fine. What you don't want is to shoot in a mode you just don't "get".

QuoteQuote:
I'll be using a 17-70mm sigma so it should do the job as its only a small venue.
Maybe, but that's only f/4.5 at the long end. That will make it tough. You really want f/2.8 in most venues.

QuoteQuote:
This is what I would start off on...
Shutter speed:180?
At f/4.5? Not too likely unless it is an incredibly well-lit stage. Most venues I shoot involve ISO 1600, f/2.8, and shutter speeds around 1/30 - 1/60.

QuoteQuote:
Continuous auto focus?
You could try, but I suspect it is going to get hopelessly confused by all the activity on stage. I use MF lenses because that's the only way I can get the focal lengths I want at f/2.8 without spending more money than I make in a month.

QuoteQuote:
Spot metering?
If you're comfortable with that, sure. As with exposure mode, it doesn't really matter what metering mode you use as long as you know how to use it to get the results you want. With spot in Av mode, you'll be using AE-L a lot so you can set exposure off one target and then shoot another. As long as you are comfortable with that, you should be fine, but don't do that if you're used to multi-segment metering and Sv mode.

QuoteQuote:
AWB?
If you shoot RAW, WB doesn't matter. If you don't shoot RAW, you should - you'll almost certainly need to fiddle with color and exposure. But if you do end up shooting JPEG, AWB will suck - either do a manual WB or use tungsten.

If the 17-70 is all you've got, then by all means bring it and do your best. But you'll figure out pretty quickly you'll want larger apertures. And once you figure out what focal lengths you want them in, you can plan your next lens purchase.

My most used lens is the M100/2.8 (runs about $100 used). I shoot mostly jazz, in small clubs, and am usually in the front row of tables, meaning about five feet from the stage. 100mm lets me get upper body portraits of individual musicians, which is usually what I want. I'll throw on a 50, 40, or 28 from time to time to get a wider view - or even my 18-55 at 18mm - but the vast majority of my shots are at longer focal lengths. If I'm not going to be right in front, I'll use a 135. Occasionally, 100m will seem to long, but 50mm almost always is too wide for the kind of closeups I like. Some day I may get a DA70, or perhaps the M85/2. I think the DA50-135 is probably the ideal concert lens if you can afford it and don't mind it's size (I prefer smaller primes, personally).

Here are some shots with my M100/2.8:



03-01-2009, 11:43 AM   #6
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Concert photography is tricky because of how erratic the lighting is. But I've found that if you get as close to the stage as possible and pay attention to where the lights are placed and how powerful they are, you can get some really good shots. And of course, the general camera settings are just as important...

Shutter speed: Try to shoot at at least 1/60 of a second. That way you can usually freeze the performer's face even if their hand may be blurry. But if the lighting conditions don't allow this speed, try leaning on the stage or a wall if you can, to support your body and lessen the amount of camera shake. If you do this, you can get away with slower shutter speeds like 1/20.

Aperture: Unless your working at an extremely well-lit venue with huge spotlights, you will probably need to work with an aperture of at least 2.8, but sometimes you need a f-stop closer to 2. That's why the FA 50 f1.4 or the FA 35 f2.0 are ideal lenses for concert photography.

ISO: With my K100D I almost always shoot at ISO 1600 at indoor gigs. There have been few cases where I have shot at 800.

Continuous auto focus? Yep, this is what I use, but you may want to try AF-S and see if it works for a given set.

Spot metering? I use "center weighted average" and that usually works well.

AWB? Like it's been mentioned, if you shoot RAW, you don't have to worry about white balance (and hot pixels). Although if you want to shoot JPEGs, the Tungsten setting has usually been the most accurate for me.

Raw+? This isn't a bad idea, but I would recommend using a fast, large capacity memory card of at least 4GB like a Sandisk Extreme III.

Shooting mode single? I would use continuous.

Good luck!

-Max
03-01-2009, 11:47 AM   #7
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Hey Marc, that first shot of the singer is great. I have never used a M 100 f2.8, but I could use the reach of that lens or the D FA 100 f/2.8.
03-01-2009, 11:52 AM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by kerrowdown Quote
Flash is an absolute no at nearly all venues, for the benefit of the musicians and everyone else present at the venue. The use of flash also kills any of the great stage lighting that maybe present at the gig.
Another problem with a flash at a gig is that you light up all sorts of stuff on stage and in the background which is normally invisible to the audience under stage lighting.

Stuff like cables, lighting fixtures and props will light up and look horrible in a photo. And if the band uses a smoke machine for ambiance, a flash will just white out the photo.

Pat

03-01-2009, 11:47 PM   #9
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I just did a gig on Saturday for one of my friends who is in the band. I must tell you I loved it. Before I left to go to the restaurant\bar I tried to simulate low lighting at home with a couple of floor lamps and my TV. I figured out that id be using my 50mm 1.7 M lens alot since the other one i have is my kit lens. The results of the kit lens were no good. At the gig I metered the lighting and had my ISO at 800, initially. Some photos were completely red due to the red stage lights on the band.
This served to be a tricky and high learning curve to shoot as my first try. I fiddled around with the shutter speeds and stuck around 1/10 and 1/4 range. Anything less resulted in dark pictures and anything more was blurred. I had to move around alot to get some of the lighting from a seating area and it helped out. So what I can suggest from my personal experience is to get a fast lens and up the ISO from 800 to 1600 for next time.
Overall the band loved me taking shots of them. I tried not to get in the way of the crowd during the night and I also started shooting on the last 2 sets.
You won't know how to approach until you are at the venue and see what type of lighting but as Marc Sabatella said and I would also agree to the ISO 1600, f/1.7-2.8.
I will post a couple pics of the night from a newbe perspective.

18-55mm @ 55mm F5.6 1/4 ISO 160


SMC M 50mm F1.7 1/10 ISO 800



SMC M 50mm F1.7 1/20 ISO 800

Last edited by quiksilver; 03-02-2009 at 12:21 AM. Reason: Added pictures
03-02-2009, 01:01 AM   #10
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I think Marc summed it up perfectly, shoot in whatever setting you're happiest with. I originally bought two primes specifically for gig shooting (on film) but the same rules apply to digital. The shot below was one of the first chances I'd had to shoot digital, so I left it in Av (so that I could stop down when the light allowed), set the ISO to 500, metering to multi-segment, and off I went. (I had barely read the manual, so I tried to make it as easy as possible for myself) Naturally, you're probably going to have to boost the ISO on account of the max aperture, but I must admit I've come to favour this of late, I like the graininess, especially if converting to B&W.

Play around, and see what suits you and your gear best. Take all the memory cards you can, shoot far too many photos, and then sift through them for the keepers. With the lighting constantly changing and performers moving around, it really can be hit and miss, but it's worth it for the hits. I would certainly keep an eye out for older, longer primes. For acts on stage, I find the 135/2.8 is great. Focal length is ideal for torso shots (or longer if the person moves about) or headshots if they're closer. You certainly can't go wrong with an old (or new) 50/1.4, but unless it's a small venue where you can get right up front, or a setting where you can actually get on stage, I find it's seldom long enough.

135/2.8 @ F2.8 1/125 ISO 500

Last edited by LensScribe; 03-02-2009 at 01:29 AM.
03-02-2009, 09:48 AM   #11
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Great shot of Wyclef. You must've had some pretty good light to shoot at 1/125th.
03-02-2009, 10:23 AM   #12
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Thank you! It's proof of the hit and miss too, I took about 400 shots that evening, and came away with less than 10 that I really liked.

Yeah, the light had moments of being fantastic, the venue (The Bassline in Johannesburg) is unusually photographer friendly as live music venues go. Still, I find that I can often get 'keepers' with the 2.8 and a bit of patience (waiting for pauses in performers leaping about etc.).
03-05-2009, 12:13 AM   #13
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Original Poster
Very cool thanx for the input.All advice taken on board!!!

I Hope my lens can handle the job and I'll post some pics if there's any keepers that is!!!
Wish me luck!
03-05-2009, 01:55 AM   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by LensScribe Quote
I think Marc summed it up perfectly, shoot in whatever setting you're happiest with. I originally bought two primes specifically for gig shooting (on film) but the same rules apply to digital. The shot below was one of the first chances I'd had to shoot digital, so I left it in Av (so that I could stop down when the light allowed), set the ISO to 500, metering to multi-segment, and off I went. (I had barely read the manual, so I tried to make it as easy as possible for myself) Naturally, you're probably going to have to boost the ISO on account of the max aperture, but I must admit I've come to favour this of late, I like the graininess, especially if converting to B&W.

Play around, and see what suits you and your gear best. Take all the memory cards you can, shoot far too many photos, and then sift through them for the keepers. With the lighting constantly changing and performers moving around, it really can be hit and miss, but it's worth it for the hits. I would certainly keep an eye out for older, longer primes. For acts on stage, I find the 135/2.8 is great. Focal length is ideal for torso shots (or longer if the person moves about) or headshots if they're closer. You certainly can't go wrong with an old (or new) 50/1.4, but unless it's a small venue where you can get right up front, or a setting where you can actually get on stage, I find it's seldom long enough.

135/2.8 @ F2.8 1/125 ISO 500

This shot is really cool!
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