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04-17-2010, 11:14 AM   #1
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Shooting my son's state band competition

I am coming from the point and click generation to the Pentax K-X upgrade. I shake a bit so I have a monopod and tripod but will most likely use the monopod at the competition. I just got the camera last week and have been playing with it a lot but am not comfortable with it yet. I really would love to get some good pictures at my son's upcoming state band competition and solo's next Tuesday and would love some help on how to take a good picture. I only have the flash that came with the camera.

I have been talking outdoor photos and they seem to come out nicely but whenever I go indoor's it doesn't seem to work as well for me. I have the the following equipment:
Pentax K-X
Lenses - 18-55 R
Lenses - 50 - 200 f/4-5.6 DC

My question is, where would be the best place to try and take pictures from at the competition? Plus what lenses would I choose and would I try and do manual settings or auto settings. I figure this is a huge question to answer and a short amount of time but my fancy point and click broke and I just have not had the time to figure out how to work this K-x yet. I don't have my book with me or I would read it, I believe it is sitting on my table at home waiting for me to take it with me so I could read it on the flight up here. It will have a long wait I fear.

Thank you kindly in advance.

04-17-2010, 01:59 PM   #2
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Since you probably wont be that close, you will mostly use the 50-200. Since neither of your lenses has a very speedy f-stop, you may want to set the iso to at least 800. Any higher and you may not be pleased with the amount of noise. If you use a monopod or tripod or even steady the camera by placing on ledge, etc. do not use shake reduction! Do NOT use flash as the onboard flash will not work at the distances you will be shotting from. At 200mm with a monopod, 1/60 sec. should give you fairly good shots. Set to Tav and set the shutter to 1/60th. MOST IMPORTANTLY, Shoot in RAW or RAW + JPEG. You will be suprised at how much you can brighten up dark photos in Post Processing. OH, and take a lot of pictures. Chances are you will get some keepers that way. Just keep firing that shutter. Good Luck!
04-17-2010, 02:18 PM   #3
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If you can't get a high enough shutter speed, then you will have to increase the ISO. Don't be too worried about using anything up to 3200. When well exposed, the pics come out fine. If you HAVE to, use ISO6400 if it becomes a choice between getting the pic or not; after all, this is for memories, not for publishing in a magazine.
04-17-2010, 02:30 PM   #4
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Are they marching bands, or stationary? Will they be performing maneuvers as they perform, somewhere out of the direct march route? (I'm familiar with parades and processions, not school band fests, so bear with me.)

If I'm not running around on the ground shooting close and furious, I try to place myself up fairly high, atop bleachers or an equivalent rise, and in a position where the action approaches me. Frontal shots, either straight or angled, are usually much more interesting than photographing their butts and backs as they march off, eh? Being at elevation puts you above other spectators and camerafolk. The combination of angle and height gives you a variety of views to capture.

If they're to maneuver in some specific place off the procession route, and you know where that area will be, you can try to place yourself for a clear field-of-fire there too. If you can, try to preview the competition site a day or two in advance, so you'll know where to go on D-Day. Maybe talk to officials of the competition, get their advise on prime locales. Good luck!

04-18-2010, 11:59 AM   #5
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You sound like you are shooting indoors. Take you monopod and push the ISO to 6400 if necessary (I've read that the KX does well at high ISO's). I have a DS (No shake reduction) with a max usable ISO of 1600 and my DA 50-200 does well for auditorium shots if you sit near the front.

ISO 1600, f6.7, 1/90 sec with monopod

ISO 1600, f6.7, 1/20 sec. with monopod

ISO 1600, f5.6, 1/20 sec. with monopod

Please note: I shoot in Raw and adjust the white balance.

Good luck.

04-18-2010, 02:01 PM   #6
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I want to that you all for these wonderful instructions. It is indoors in an auditorium and I am going to figure all of this out tonight. We just landed and am going to be trying to fine tune my low skills into something that looks hopefully half as good as the ones posted here. Thank you again.
04-18-2010, 06:23 PM   #7
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Well to get you going your going to need a basic understanding of how to get a fast shutter speed in low light because I am guessing that there is going to be a very low amount of light in this place.

Firstly, I am concerned that you will have trouble getting a fast shutter speed in the building. All your lenses are kit lenses and are not very fast by any means. If I were you I would keep your lens stopped all the way open in order to bring in as much light as possible. You are also going to need to bump up your ISO to a pretty high number in order to get a decent shutter speed. However, since you have the Kx this should not hurt you to much.

Another thing I would do is look for a nice high area to go and take your photos at. There is nothing more frustrating then trying to take photos and find that some tall guy is in your way and you can't see anything. As Rio said try to get in an area that will allow you to get some good frontal shots and maybe some photos of the whole group as well. I really hope that you can get some great shots as his band competition, there is nothing more satisfying then getting the perfect shot while at a big event.

Good luck.

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