View Full Version : What am I doing wrong -- examples from Local H, Electric 6

1st of December 2008 (Mon), 19:44
Hey everyone! First of all, thanks for the advice I have received thus far from everyone here. I come back seeking more tips and advice! Last weekend I took my camera (40D) and two lenses (canon 70-200 2.8 IS, sigma 30mm 1.4) to the Middle East rock club near Boston, MA. They allow DSLR stuff inside. After doing a lot of reading and posting on here, this is what I came up with:

(questions/comments/concerns after pics)









Settings I used that I did not use at my other show: AI-Servo focus mode, ISO 3200 (H), High speed continuous shooting.

Here are my concerns. First of all, my images are not sharp. At least, they were not out of the camera. HEAVY post processing was done to make these shots look halfway decent. I am wondering if there is a better way to fix this while I'm shooting, rather than PPing. I tried to keep my shutter speed above 1/120, and tried to avoid shooting wide open (though I had to with the 70-200 2.8 IS

Now, here is what I THINK is happening: Light. Lighting here was terribad. The bands actually asked to have the lights dimmed (d'oh) so I had to bump the exposure in ACR a bit to get propper exposure. I think that the low lighting was making it hard to focus and/or the high ISO + exposure bumping in photoshop creates an image that kills the details with noise. More light would allow me to not shoot wide open, and at iso 1600 instead of 3200 while keeping my speeds up.

I also think that I may just not be used to using a very wide aperture (1.4) as this lens is new to me.

I hope it is not a 40D focus issue, as I have read about these before. The reason I ask this, is because the previous show I shot at I used an XTi (I have since upgraded) and my shots were sharper. However, lighting was significantly better here.

Another issue I had, was fighting with the crowd. All of these shots were taken from within the crowd, sometimes while in/near a moshpit. Getting bumped around frequently while trying to protect my camera gear could have caused user error. I need to get a photo pass!

The last issue I had was that the 40D seemed to have trouble using the outer focus points with AI-servo mode. The focus point light on the viewfinder was not completely lit up sometimes, and seemed to have a really hard time getting focus. May have been the light, but the center focus points seemed to perform better.

My main concern here is the sharpness of the images. They aren't bad, but they aren't great either, especially for the heavy editing I did.

Here is a link to the rest of the pics (though I feel I posted my best) : http://s252.photobucket.com/albums/hh2/Coppatop85/Local%20H%20and%20Electric%206/

Here is a link to the other show I did: http://s252.photobucket.com/albums/hh2/Coppatop85/Minus%20The%20Bear%20and%20Apollo%20Sunshine/

Thanks for looking

1st of December 2008 (Mon), 20:43
When I start to get iffy results in AI Servo, I fall back to One-Shot, center point only, and don't recompose. It's pretty limiting (esp with primes), but it works in most cases.

I think part of your troubles here are simply light level and shutter speed...you just aren't going to get super crisp shots at 1/50. There isn't much you can do about it (except maybe underexpose on purpose).
The other thing that jumps out to me is that your apparent focus target isn't always the highest contrast element in the image. It is pretty easy for the camera to want to jump to a higher contrast target, esp in low lighting like this.
Also, like you said...shooting wide open isn't always the best option. f/1.4 will give anyone fits, and I tend to use it as a last resort...only if I really need the shutter speed...or if I seriously want to kill a horrible background.

Your shots honestly don't look too bad to me, but you might wait until narlus comes around. He shoots at the Mid East all the time, and would probably have some pretty decent input for you.

1st of December 2008 (Mon), 21:33
I'll look more later, but your first problem, was shooting at the Middle East. Worst lighting in all of Boston!

1st of December 2008 (Mon), 21:45
It's the only place I know of that lets me bring in a camera!

2nd of December 2008 (Tue), 06:59
Bill's is usually pretty good. TT's as well.

Start trying to get photo passes and all venues become available.

2nd of December 2008 (Tue), 09:42
Ok, I really like 1 and 4. I can't tell if 1 is OOF or just motion blurred, or both, but regardless, I like it more then 2. The facial expression is just better I guess.
3 and 6 are kinda boring and 5 is OOF on the face, but the guitar is nice. And 8 is just too dark on the face.

Not to rain on your parade at all, but that's what I think.

So, lighting at the middle east. Last time I was there it was like, 3 or 4 cans downstage, one or two with gels on stage left and a few, maybe 4 or 5 upstage above the drummer. They seem to never be all on at the same time and even the ones that are on, are turned down way low always. Dunno why.

Tim (Narlus) has a lot more experience shooting at Mid East then I do. I actually try to stay away from there. Since I tend to work directly for bands, I usually turn down the Mid East shows because I feel bad taking their hard earned money for my POS poorly lit shots. It's not my fault, or theirs, it's the venue. Nothing we can do about it really. I'd rather turn down the gig, then provide a poor product.

2nd of December 2008 (Tue), 16:36
i actually don't mind shooting @ the Middle East, but lighting is definitely a challenge. the black ceiling and low ceiling means very little ambience, and no fill lighting...the lights behind the drummer can stare right into yr lens. if you do have a photo pass shooting from the ramp makes things a bit easier, and it also allows you to get some decent drummer shots and 'from behind the band' shots as well, but the angles are all a bit samey. what i like to do is to get there early, camp out up front, grab some shots from up close and then bail to the side.

as far as yr photos, 2, 5 and 6 are all about as good as you could hope for and you did a nice job. getting accurate focus lock in low-light is not easy, and i've got plenty of deleted .CR2 files to prove it (i often wonder if a 1 series would do any better). the lighting in a few is so bad that it's not even worth taking a shot at that point (3 and 8).

or, use a flash and b/w 'em!

as others have mentioned, i've got a ton of sets from shooting @ the ME...here's a random sampling (click on the photo to get to the gallery):

http://narlus.zenfolio.com/img/v4/p740950413-3.jpg (http://narlus.zenfolio.com/p979940611)

Silver Jews:
http://narlus.zenfolio.com/img/v3/p382723975-3.jpg (http://narlus.zenfolio.com/p444188581)

http://narlus.zenfolio.com/img/v2/p691792395-3.jpg (http://narlus.zenfolio.com/p469417747)

http://narlus.zenfolio.com/img/v2/p950411844-3.jpg (http://narlus.zenfolio.com/p507768762)

http://narlus.zenfolio.com/img/v2/p954739801-3.jpg (http://narlus.zenfolio.com/p862286109)

The Cynics:
http://narlus.zenfolio.com/img/v0/p126313881-3.jpg (http://narlus.zenfolio.com/p985933305)

that's just some from this year...i've got at least a couple dozen other shows from between 2006 and 2007 as well. sometimes the light is really good, like it was for Radio Birdman (http://narlus.zenfolio.com/p509881707) or The Ex (http://narlus.zenfolio.com/p296436797)). sometimes it's really challenging, like for Red Sparowes (http://narlus.zenfolio.com/p496414376) or Explosions in the Sky (http://narlus.zenfolio.com/p781040388).

always bring at least one fast prime, and using flash in a pinch can work as well

2nd of December 2008 (Tue), 18:50
Thanks for the advice, and words of encouragement. I had figured it was more user error/lack of photo pass that caused many of my shots to be not very sharp/oof, but I think it was more the lighting thing. Not to say I don't have tons of room to improve upon!

Narlus, thanks for the reply, you've posted great info in almost every thread I have posted, and I think responded to a few of my PMs. One more Q for ya though, when using flash (which I have yet to do with concerts) do you meter for the brightest point and use the flash as a fill with -2 to -2/3rds ish compensation or something like that? That's how I would do it with my limited experience with flash.

René Damkot
3rd of December 2008 (Wed), 11:30
Here are my concerns.
Frankly, I think you did very well considering lighting and circumstances.

(i often wonder if a 1 series would do any better)

IMO a 1 series is iffy as well in low light AF. Also plenty of OoF shots to prove it. About 20% per show.

Only with higher light levels (say: ISO 1600; 1/250s; f/2.8 and up) things start to get better. (At least in my experience; 1D / 1D2)