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FORUMS Photography Talk by Genre Performing Arts Talk 
Thread started 27 Jan 2010 (Wednesday) 11:13
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50D + nifty fifty, maximising the clarity?

 
deathcake
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Jan 27, 2010 11:13 |  #1

I've read quite a few other newbie/first live show posts asking for help and advice, and feel kind of bad clogging up this section with yet another one, but I also don't want to get in the way of other people's questions being answered.

Basically, my friends' band is playing at a local venue and I'm going to try photographing it. They are about a year old as a band, and steadily gaining publicity, and I think they'd appreciate some high quality live pictures. So I really want to do a good job of this.

The lighting in the place is not too bad, but far from ideal. It shouldn't be too dim for it to be impossible to get clear photos, but it certainly will be a challenge. There will be some very harsh red and blue lights, which turned previous attempts (with a point and click) into an un-salvageable red mess. More so than usual, I've taken shots of other live concerts with the same camera and they looked much better, so I mainly blame the lighting for that.

I'll be using a 50D with the 50mm 1.8f lens, which is the only lens I'll have that's suited for the purpose. I have a mini-tripod which i imagine will be useless, but I'm thinking of buying a full-sized one anyways, so I was wondering if you guys thing that will be worth it. OK, so here are the questions I've come up with so far:

- upgrading the lens - what are the options, and how much of an improvement would it be?
- where to stand - as close as possible or further away behind the "crowd" (about 5-6rows of people, but the area in front of the stage does not slant upwards or anything, so I'd need to stand a fair way back, maybe 10meters from the stage)? What's the furthest you can get with a nifty fifty and expect clarity?
- getting a bigger tripod - would this help at all? There will be times in between songs when the band is standing sort of still.
- camera settings - I've seen this one answered before, but I was wondering if I should do anything different considering the harsh lighting?
- post processing - what to do about noise, sharpness, etc? I have zero experience with this. But I guess I can work this out after I see what my raw files are like

I guess that's it, I'll see if I can think of anything else before the gig. Budget-wise, I do have some extra money that I can spend $500-$1000, but only if it's really worth it. I do hope to take more live concert photographs after this, so whatever equipment I use will come in useful later, but I doubt I'll ever make a profit from it, so i don't want to spend ridiculous amounts of money now.

Thanks for the patience and advice I have received so far from you guys =)


[gear][recent work (external link)][flickr (external link)] Your first 10,000 photographs are your worst. - Henri Cartier-Bresson

  
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bacchanal
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Jan 27, 2010 12:21 |  #2

deathcake wrote in post #9482262 (external link)
- upgrading the lens - what are the options, and how much of an improvement would it be?

This really depends on if you can get by with an f/2.8 zoom or if you need a prime. The options are numerous, and yes...they could offer an improvement. Having multiple focal lengths to choose from is never a bad thing, and the 50 f/1.8 isn't exactly known for it's ultra-reliable AF.

The first two that I might consider if I were you would be the Sigma 30 f/1.4 and the Canon 85 f/1.8. These work well for concert shooting in just about any environment and they won't completely break the bank.

deathcake wrote in post #9482262 (external link)
- where to stand - as close as possible or further away behind the "crowd" (about 5-6rows of people, but the area in front of the stage does not slant upwards or anything, so I'd need to stand a fair way back, maybe 10meters from the stage)? What's the furthest you can get with a nifty fifty and expect clarity?

Most of the time I like to get as close as possible, but really you should try to move around. When my camera starts getting hit with guitar heads, I figure I'm probably too close. Get different perspectives. Be polite (to performers and crowd), but don't be shy.

deathcake wrote in post #9482262 (external link)
- getting a bigger tripod - would this help at all? There will be times in between songs when the band is standing sort of still.

Tripod? I personally wouldn't take one. Maybe if you were at the back of the venue with a 300 f/2.8, but I don't think that is going to be the case. Use a reasonably adequate shutter speed for hand holding (you'll need this to stop motion anyway). Don't get all hung up on the 1/(1.6 x FL) rule either. If you're steady, you can probably hand hold shots at lower speeds.

deathcake wrote in post #9482262 (external link)
- camera settings - I've seen this one answered before, but I was wondering if I should do anything different considering the harsh lighting?

Very harsh lighting (aka high contrast lighting) generally requires some negative EC (assuming a dark background). Use your RGB histogram to make sure you're not clipping color channels. That said, I'd keep your WB set to K ~ 2700 or Tungsten, as this will keep the reds close to accurate in your histogram (maybe). Oh, and there's always exceptions, don't be afraid to blow some highlights...just try to keep the exposure on the face from getting blown out.

Harsh lighting is just plain tough to deal with sometimes. It takes some learning, and it's often a matter of making trade offs to get as close as possible to the exposure that you want.

deathcake wrote in post #9482262 (external link)
- post processing - what to do about noise, sharpness, etc? I have zero experience with this. But I guess I can work this out after I see what my raw files are like

Personally, I don't worry about noise too much, just leave it in. Generally, you lose a lot of the noise when you resize to a web size file or a print. If you want to use NR, try not to over do it. Keep as much detail as possible and keep some noise, or it won't really look natural. If you really want to get picky, I find that it is often best to run a light pass of NR on the full size file, and then run another light pass of NR once you've resized the file for output.

I use pretty much the same approach for sharpening. I use the Lightroom defaults for a light "capture" sharpening on the full size file. However the really noticable sharpening is done when the image is resized. Sharpen after you resize for output (generally as your last step in the process). The actual sharpening setting will depend on the file size.

A couple of other things...

Focus on the performers face (the eyes if you can).

Don't be afraid to use off center focus points.

Don't be afraid to use high ISO if you need the shutter speed.

Don't rely too heavily on AI Servo. Sometimes one shot will give you better results, esp with a lens like the nifty.

Try to look for areas of high contrast to lock AF on. If you're trying to AF on a low contrast object, don't be too surprised if the AF "jumps" to a higher contrast object if there is one near by.


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Trevor04GT
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Jan 27, 2010 12:43 |  #3

Very good post. Nail on the head.


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deathcake
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Jan 27, 2010 17:53 |  #4

Thank you so much for answering all my questions and for your recommendations, bacchanal! I found your response very helpful. I'm going to do some reading about the lenses you suggested =)


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René ­ Damkot
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Jan 30, 2010 17:40 |  #5

Post some results :)


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deathcake
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Jan 30, 2010 18:13 |  #6

Oh, I definitely will :p Unless they are really, embarrassingly bad.... But even then, I will post some asking for opinions on what I did wrong/how to improve! I'm going to be practising shooting in other low-light areas such as bars and maybe night streets until then - the gig is next Friday.

I'm kind of worried going out at night with my expensive gear, not that I live in a high crime area, but there have been robberies every now and then. Mostly money/iPods/phones/lap​tops stolen on the streets and that sort of thing. I have no idea how much of a risk it is walking around with a 50d, especially being scrawny and female =/


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Warrenism
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Feb 02, 2010 09:21 as a reply to  @ deathcake's post |  #7

What venue are you shooting at per chance? Is it a pub or bar so to speak? If it happens to be one of the populars ie Annandale / Fisho's etc hit up sites such as thedwarf / fasterlouder for some ideas as positions to shoot from. It's a great way to get some inspiration and creative ideas.

As bacchanal nentioned, definitely don't hesitate to get the ISO high. What's a little noise when you have captured a killer pose that the vocalist/guitarist has strut.
I too shoot with a 50D and i will push it too 3200 when i feel it's needed.
An example

IMAGE: http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2694/4324764179_8f52e0bd0f.jpg
Exif is in the image: 1/50 @ f2.8 - ISO3200
I could have opened up the aperture to f2 and dropped the ISO to get a similar effect (if you are worried about noise).

Best of luck and do post up your captures.

[DSLR-less | 10-22 | 24-70L f2.8 | 70-200L f2.8 IS | 24-105L f4 | 50 f1.4 ]
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deathcake
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Feb 03, 2010 05:24 |  #8

Thanks for the advice, Warrenism! The venue is Manly Fisho's and I have seen some photos taken from there, but it will help to see more. Thanks for telling me about thedwarf and fasterlouder, they are just what I needed and will probably be useful in the future as well!

Great shot at 3200 iso :) ...I am a little bit worried about noise, but not very, since it usually looks fine in live music photos, sometimes even adds to the image. I thought I'd go 1600 max, but I might try higher if needed. I will probably be shooting at f/2.8 so it might help out.


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deathcake
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Feb 12, 2010 07:32 |  #9

I got some great photos of the band I was setting out to photograph and one of the earlier bands, filled up an 8gb CF card (shooting raw). Not going to process these until Monday, but here are two from tonight:

No processing except resize + sharpen for web. I'll get to it later :p

IMAGE NOT FOUND
IMAGE IS A REDIRECT OR MISSING!
HTTP response: NOT FOUND | MIME changed to 'image/png'

^Yes, you can actually see the eyelashes on this one. I am so proud.

IMAGE NOT FOUND
IMAGE IS A REDIRECT OR MISSING!
HTTP response: NOT FOUND | MIME changed to 'image/png'

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bacchanal
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Feb 12, 2010 07:56 as a reply to  @ deathcake's post |  #10

Very nice. ;)


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deathcake
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Feb 12, 2010 08:33 |  #11

Thanks =D

The thought of processing these is kind of daunting, cause as you can see the lighting was pretty extreme. I can accept that under a red light a person will look red, but a lot of the good clear shots are overexposed/washed out red. WB was just set to tungsten, I tried to work out a custom one, but the lights were changing too frequently and I just didn't have the time.


Here's another one that looks cool, but I have no idea what to do about the noise/overexposure. In this one (external link) noise is removed with "surface blur" in PS CS2.

IMAGE NOT FOUND
IMAGE IS A REDIRECT OR MISSING!
HTTP response: NOT FOUND | MIME changed to 'image/png'

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Feb 12, 2010 09:20 as a reply to  @ deathcake's post |  #12

I'm liking the 2nd shot alot. Real dark and pensive on the subject while you have the striking red environment to contrast. Yeah, i like that one.

The last shot looks a touch soft. What SS were you shooting at?
I guess the beauty of shooting with RAW is that you will be able to recover from the highlight overexposure. Pull it down some what until it stops clipping or to a point you are happy with. Then hit the hue/saturation channels of green and red to tone down images that you feel are too strong.

Hope that helps.


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René ­ Damkot
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Feb 12, 2010 13:52 |  #13

deathcake wrote in post #9594997 (external link)
but I have no idea what to do about the noise/overexposure.

I see no problematic noise whatsoever.
I do see problematic overexposure though ;)

Either go "artistic" and accept the blown parts, or bin it.


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deathcake
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Feb 12, 2010 23:50 |  #14

Warrenism wrote in post #9595254 (external link)
I'm liking the 2nd shot alot. Real dark and pensive on the subject while you have the striking red environment to contrast. Yeah, i like that one.

Thank you so much! It was one of the last ones before my memory card ran out, so lucky it turned out well. I could have gone through and deleted some obviously bad photos to clear some space, but decided to just stop there and enjoy the music for a bit.

Warrenism wrote in post #9595254 (external link)
The last shot looks a touch soft. What SS were you shooting at?

Shutter speed was between 1/50 and 1/100 throughout the night, I think that one was at 1/60. Probably should have sped it up with the lighting, but the lights changed quite quickly and dramatically, so a lot of the time I didn't have time to adjust the setting in time.

Warrenism wrote in post #9595254 (external link)
I guess the beauty of shooting with RAW is that you will be able to recover from the highlight overexposure. Pull it down some what until it stops clipping or to a point you are happy with. Then hit the hue/saturation channels of green and red to tone down images that you feel are too strong.
Hope that helps.

Yep, that really helps. I will try to do that. :D

René Damkot wrote in post #9596892 (external link)
I see no problematic noise whatsoever.
I do see problematic overexposure though ;)

Either go "artistic" and accept the blown parts, or bin it.

I have a feeling the vocalist will like that one, so I want to keep it. I'll see how much I can recover from the RAW file, otherwise "artistic" it is :lol:


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50D + nifty fifty, maximising the clarity?
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