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Old 30th of July 2012 (Mon)   #1
Christopher Payne
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Default Concert Photography - Help, please!

Hi all...I know it's a bit brash being brand new here and starting right off with a question for help, but I'm in a little over my head and could really use some help please.

I have done exterior photography (birds, critters, long exposure night shots) and have generally had very pleasing results. However, I just got the word that I am getting the photo shoot of my dreams this Friday!

I will be up in Northern California, and will get the chance to shoot the first three songs of an Iron Maiden Concert. The lighting will be very good, however I'm pretty concerned as I am cutting my teeth on a major opportunity that I do NOT want to screw up, as the resulting photos from this show could make or break my portfolio to show other potential bands. I don't have time to try and get into smaller clubs to get the feel of things. I've shot a few bands in small clubs anyway, and the lighting was so bad that even at 800 ISO the shutter speed was terrible. I'd sort of like to be in AP mode so I can quickly change aprture to get the shutter speed as fast as possible....but would it be better to be in shutter priority mode and just stick with one setting....like 1/500th? or perhaps 1/1000th? Thoughts on any of this, please?

So anyway, I will be taking my primary camera, a 50D with my Canon 10-22 3.5 to 4.5, and also be carrying my backup, a 40D with a Tameron 24-135 3.5 to 5.6.

I have been told that I may want to set the cameras to auto ISO mode so the camera can choose the right ISO for the lighting at the moment the image is captured. I've never used this, though. Is it possible to set the camera to use the auto ISO mode and make sure at the same time that the shutter speed is a certain minimum? What should the minimum shutter speed be? 1/250th? Shorter? I'm not too worried about aperture and DOF, since I have found the Canon 10-22mm to have really excellent DOF with my night long exposure shots. However...*should* I try and keep it in a sweet slightly higher f-stop...or keeps it really low and wide open for faster shutter, and risk a shallower DOF? Oh...and is there an ISO I can tell the camera not to go above? I start to get noise that is hard to deal with at around 800 or so.

Any other advise that would come to mind, would be awesome...and I thank you kindly for helping this new guy here out, at the last minute.

Oh...and Hello, btw....glad to be here, and will try to help out in return, when I can!

Here's much of my work, if you'd like to see...

http://christopherpayne.zenfolio.com

Last edited by Christopher Payne : 30th of July 2012 (Mon) at 20:09.
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Old 30th of July 2012 (Mon)   #2
Christopher Payne
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Default Re: Concert Photography - Help, please!

Wow....broke the rookie rule #1....don't miss the obvious thread stickied at the top of the thread.

I won't delete this, since I deserve any and all ridicule and good natured ribbing that you send my way...LOL!

Sorry...but still....anything specific to my questions that was not addressed in the stickied thread, I'd appreciate advice on!

Thanks....and sorry for being *that* guy...LOL!
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Old 31st of July 2012 (Tue)   #3
narlus
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Default Re: Concert Photography - Help, please!

hey Chris, welcome to POTN.

i think the lighting for Iron Maiden will be good...check Getty, Retna, WireImage and Flickr for shots from this tour. i would just leave your 10-22 in manual at the fastest aperture and shoot w/ that. 1/250th should be fine. i haven't used a 50D so i am not sure how the high ISO noise is, but there are ways to minimize it, esp if you nail exposure and don't have to move exposure much in post-processing.

the Tamron lens is slower but has a good focal length range for individual person shots.

congrats on the assignment, but i wouldn't put too much pressure on it...a single show isn't any sort of 'make or break' scenario.
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Old 31st of July 2012 (Tue)   #4
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Default Re: Concert Photography - Help, please!

Congrats on the assignment, they were just here on Friday..!

I would consider renting a 2.8 zoom lens.
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Old 31st of July 2012 (Tue)   #5
chris.dg
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Default Re: Concert Photography - Help, please!

Wow, Maiden live is a special event for sure. Congrats. I'll be at both Maiden gigs in NorCal this weekend (Mt View and Wheatland), and saw them several weeks back in New York City.

To answer some of your questions
- I do not believe that the 50D has a Maximum ISO setting for the Auto ISO mode, so you take what it gives you. I just checked the manual and it seems to confirm my belief. My 50D is all packed up to sell, but I'll see if I can break it out soon and check again.

- The Maiden stage is indeed very well lit because they have huge murals and props they want lit, I really think you'll be fine going well above 800 ISO on the 50D without introducing too much noise...see my example gallery below. Better to get the shot with some noise than miss it. These guys might be pushing 60 years old, but they move around on that stage like 20 year olds, trust me!

- Do you also get to shoot the opening act, Coheed & Cambria? It sure would be nice to get that practice time.

- I'm assuming you confirmed that will have photo pit access right up front? Or is it soundboard access? Of course, that will completely change your lens choice. Neither of your lenses will work from the soundboard, as you probably realize.

- Even from the photo pit, I'm not convinced that the 10-22 is a good choice as the primary lens. Since it's so wide (and not so fast), it would be nice for a couple of ultra-wide stage views, but you will have a difficult time getting anything resembling a close-up shot of the individuals. For your crop-sensor, see if you can get your hands on the great 17-55 f2.8 (2.8 throughout the range) via a lens rental outfit or from a friend. That will buy you a couple extra stops of light and better clarity/contrast as a bonus. Also Bruce, Adrian, Steve, Janick, and Dave often get right up to the edge of the stage at various times, so the 55mm end should get you close enough for tight full-body shots.

By way of example, here's a Metallica concert I shot entirely with the 50D and the 17-55 from about 8 feet away from the stage. ALL of them except one were taken at 3200 ISO! And all of them were either 1/100th or 1/125th shutter speed. Look through the gallery and see if that amount of noise is acceptable to you (some have Lightroom noise-reduction applied). Plus, Maiden will be even better lit than Metallica.
http://chrisdg.smugmug.com/Concerts/2011-Metallica




and if you can get me into the photo pit as well, I'll let you borrow my 17-55, my car, and my dog.
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Last edited by chris.dg : 31st of July 2012 (Tue) at 23:13.
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Old 1st of August 2012 (Wed)   #6
Christopher Payne
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Default Re: Concert Photography - Help, please!

Thanks for all your help, everyone. I'm just not sure I'm going to be able to have better lenses with me, unfortunately...but I will see what I can get. Worse comes to worse...I'll make the best of what I have.

chris.dg - Yes, it will be a photo pit pass. The positive end of all this, is that I've been to about 80 Maiden shows (greatest. band. ever!) so I know their tendencies on stage, and can use that to my advantage. I'm most excited to get that first shot of Bruce running to the front of the stage and leaping 600 feet in the air over that stage monitor! Based on your feedback and your terrific Metallica shots, I have to think about making the Tamron 24-135 my primary, and perhaps have my 10-22 on the second 40D body. There's a fair amount of noise in the image you posted here, but that's at 3200...wow! I think I agree with you, then...that 800 will likely not be a problem.

I wish I had more time to prepare, and a couple other test shows...ack!
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Old 1st of August 2012 (Wed)   #7
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Default Re: Concert Photography - Help, please!

Could you not rent a 70-200? that'll be your best option. The 24-135 is going to be way too slow.
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Old 1st of August 2012 (Wed)   #8
chris.dg
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Default Re: Concert Photography - Help, please!

Quote:
Originally Posted by xchangx View Post
Could you not rent a 70-200? that'll be your best option. The 24-135 is going to be way too slow.
In my opinion, the 70-200 would be way too tight from the pit (except for shots of the drummer who is 30+ feet back), particularly on a crop-sensor. I do agree that his 24-135 will likely be too slow.

Plus, for Maiden, you want semi-wide shots where you have Bruce in the foreground and the massive pyro going off in the background.
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Last edited by chris.dg : 1st of August 2012 (Wed) at 15:37.
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Old 1st of August 2012 (Wed)   #9
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Default Re: Concert Photography - Help, please!

Did you mention why you can't just rent the 17-55?
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Old 6th of August 2012 (Mon)   #10
chris.dg
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Default Re: Concert Photography - Help, please!

Christopher - now that the Maiden concert is over, care to share how you felt things went?

(btw, i was at both shows in northern california - was absolutely incredible.)
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Old 18th of August 2012 (Sat)   #11
Christopher Payne
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Default Re: Concert Photography - Help, please!

Hey guys! Sorry I was so slow to get back here...but after the two shows (I was at both also....fantastic shows!) I spent a week on Lake Michigan...and came home and got sick this week.

It was an amazing and frustrating experience, all in one. There was NO GAP between the stage and the barrier, so we were on the outside of the barrier, and halfway through the third song, people were lining up on the barrier in front of us. I was also stuck on the right side of the stage, due to the front row in the middle being so close to the barrier.

However...it was amazing and went by at a million miles an hour. I put my 10-22mm on my Canon 50d body, and I used my Canon 40D body for the 24-135mm lens. I tested things out just before the show, and settled on 1600 ISO...and most of the time was able to get shots around 1/100 to 1/200 of a second.

Lessons learned.... practice with two camera around my neck...because at one point I somehow got them twisted a bit trying to switch back and forth and darn near choked myself to death....not very professional...LOL! Also...as you all mentioned, I need faster lenses. The 10-22mm lens performed really well, all things considered...but as expected I got a lot fewer quality shots with the 24-135mm as it's a bit slower lens.

However, I got several really excellent shots (IMO) of Steve and Janick...one good one of Dave as he is on the left of the stage typically, a couple good shots of Adrian...and still working on my shots of Bruce.

The contract stated I need permission to "publish" the photos anywhere outside what I was shooting for (which was for the official fan club magazine), but I doubt they'll have a problem with me putting them in my own portfolio to promote myself....so soon as I get that permission, I will link from my portfolio.

Thanks again everyone!
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Old 19th of August 2012 (Sun)   #12
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Default Re: Concert Photography - Help, please!

I have had 10-22mm but only shot during the daylight where it was good light, though I personally think the 50D sucks at ISO3200, others have come good with that ISO.
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Old 19th of August 2012 (Sun)   #13
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Default Re: Concert Photography - Help, please!

Chris, a couple of comments. First, my 16-35 usually stays in my bag. There is an occasional interesting angle to shoot wide from the pit but those shots are better from further back where you are not shooting up. For me, it is 24-70 and 70-200. Occasional primes eg 50 or 85 mm. Would only shoot in manual, particularly if the band has frequently changing lighting which can make things hit or miss. If you are interested, you can see concert shots on my site listed under my signature. All pics have info on how they were shot.
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