View Full Version : HELP! Advice needed on photographing gigs

14th October 2011, 06:25 PM
Hi All

I've landed a job as one of the official photographers at a Cardiff music festival. I'd like some advice on the optimal settings for indoor concert photography. I'm planning to take:

14-35mm f2
50mm f2
possibly the 7-14mm f4

Should I sat to Auto ISO, and if yes, what range?
Same q for WB (I always shoot in raw so I'm not overly worried about WB - ballpark is fine)
Aperture or Shutter priority? Manual strikes me as a little too fiddly for this.
One AF point or all of them?
Any other tips / ideas?


Bikie John
14th October 2011, 10:05 PM
Sounds like a great opportunity. Advice no. 1 - go and find something happening under similar conditions, and practice!

Just a few thoughts for now - If you're indoors I'm not sure how much use the 7-14 would be. Stage lighting is never as bright as you think, and the audience is even darker so you would struggle with f/4. I generally set the lens wide open and use aperture priority auto, but it depends on the lighting. Dynamic range can be very high and can fool the meter so check histograms as you go. Major problem is overexposing and blowing out highlilghts so under- rather than over-expose and let the shadows sink into gloom, they generally aren't as important. I haven't tried auto ISO yet, it's only because I regard it as a new-fangled inbention and haven't got around to it. I like to keep an eye on what the camera is doing anyway.

One awkward fact of life is that musicians will tend to fill up any space they are given. With our eyes we see a band on stage, but the camera sees a set of matchstick men and a lot of empty space. Most of the time I end up shooting single musicians, or maybe getting a lline of them from one side. Max FL of 50mm might be a bit limiting. I used single central point AF on the last lot, I guess it worked as well as anything. I prefer MF but find it hard to use on the E's.

Good luck! I just put up some recent gig pics at http://e-group.uk.net/forum/showthread.php?t=17341

Ciao ... John

14th October 2011, 10:30 PM
okay, so you are shooting raw but watch out for the contrast, light /white clothing with a spotlight...sometimes better to switch to spot metering.

14th October 2011, 10:44 PM

If you haven’t done this style of photography before it would be a good idea to go to some local clubs/pubs to practice technique especially if stage lighting is being used. So to answer your questions here we go:-

Should I sat to Auto ISO, and if yes, what range?

You will need to keep your shutter speeds high to avoid camera shake / blurry photos as musicians move around the stage so ISO 1600 as a starting point and adjust accordingly to maintain an appropriate shutter speed.

Same q for WB (I always shoot in raw so I'm not overly worried about WB - ballpark is fine)

If you shoot RAW you can adjust post production.

Aperture or Shutter priority? Manual strikes me as a little too fiddly for this.

It appears you will be using F2 lenses which is perfect I’d stick to manual maintaining a high shutter speed plus adjust accordingly if you want to change DOF

One AF point or all of them?

I always use manual focus with this style of photography its so important you take complete control of the camera. If using AF point then stick to one only and recompose on the fly.

Any other tips / ideas?

If possible maybe take a monopod or even a chest pod for extra image stability. Don’t become a nuisance to the people standing/sitting behind you by obstructing their view. Lens wise I would take the 14-35mm and 50mm and a 1.4mm convertor again it depends how far away you are from the stage etc. Use spot metering and constantly check the Histogram and adjust using exposure compensation.

Hope this helps - best of luck


15th October 2011, 12:01 AM
Ceri, manual exposure is actually a good choice for this type of event. Light levels are going to be low so set maximum aperture and a fast enough shutter speed to avoid blurring the subject, but not too fast. Set ISO to Auto (with no limit) and effectively you have a semi-auto mode with shutter speed and aperture fixed and ISO as the variable. Obviously, if you run out of ISO headroom you'll have to set a longer shutter speed and hope for the best!

Good luck. :)

Phill D
15th October 2011, 05:39 AM
Sometimes some blurred movement such as strumming hands or blurred drumsticks is good in this situation to show the action so a few slower speed shots can be worthwhile as well. Good luck and post some shots when you are done.

flying haggis
15th October 2011, 05:38 PM
All of the above and watch out for on stage lighting shining towards you, the results can be interesting

http://e-group.uk.net/gallery/data/500/thumbs/301.JPG (javascript:void(0))

15th October 2011, 10:19 PM
Bloody marvellous guys - thanks a million. I'm going to pool all your advice to find the general thread. One day I'll invest in a 35-100, but until then I think my lens choice will be the 14-35, 50 and my x1.4. I'll be sure to post the results, good or bad. Thanks again

Bikie John
16th October 2011, 08:52 AM
You could hire the 35-100 to see how you get on with it. I find it very good in medium-sized venues.


20th November 2011, 12:07 AM
I have done lots of jobs like this previously, and teach photography full time, so my approach to your question comes from a different angle, which might help to clarify what settings you might use.

Firstly, what are you intending to capture, has your client expressed an expected style of shot that they want you to get for them? If they haven't, do they have any examples of work from previous photographers that they particularly like?
If they say 'its up to you', what are your aims when you are there? is there a style or format you particularly want to capture? will you follow a particular theme? are you going to get in close, or stay at the back? How about subject or camera movement?

It would be worth your while writing down some notes on what you expect to capture, and as others have said, visit an event where you might get the opportunity to practice some ideas, as that would help.