A quasi-experienced concert photographer needs advice...

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by Shacklebolt, May 16, 2009.

  1. Shacklebolt macrumors 6502a


    Sep 2, 2004
    So, though I've been dancing around it for a while, my name's Will, and I write and shoot for Impose Magazine (music/culture magazine out of Brooklyn). I've received some stellar advice on these boards, and, with the summer festival season underway, I'm looking for some more.

    I shoot on some pretty stellar gear (I was lucky to have the funds to come upon it), but dammit, I see concert photographers who just are better than me. Their images are sharper, and... I dunno, just better. I'm wondering what I could do right.

    I'm going to post links to a few articles, some from last summer, some from this spring, and I'm dying to hear what you guys think I could do better. Honestly, I think I've matured a lot as a photographer since then, but I still, in my mind, have a long way to go. I have an exciting summer planned, and dammit if I don't want my photos to be top quality. Any help would be super-appreciated.

    FYI, my gear includes (this is all of it):

    Camera bodies: Nikon D300, D80
    Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8 with B+W UV filter
    Nikkor 70-200mm f/2.8 with B+W UV filter
    Nikkor 50mm f/1.4 with UV filter
    Nikon 18-135mm f/3.5-5.6
    Nikon SB-600 speedlight

    Main problems, in my opinion:

    Blown highlights
    My use of flash is just... when I use it, pics don't look good, at all (see Girl Talk article)
    Framing (but I'm working on that)
    Noise (but working on that as well)
    More exciting pictures? (but this is rather subjective)

    Examples of ones I really don't like, or am underwhelmed by:

    Radiohead @ All Points Wets Music Festival, August, 2008

    All Poitns West Music Festival, August 2008

    The Mae Shi, January 2009

    Girl Talk, November 2008

    Pics I'm kind of proud of, however:

    Booka Shade, March 2009

    The Juan MacLean, April 2009

    Thoughts? I know this is a huge question, but I trust you guys, a lot (aww)
  2. t0mat0 macrumors 603


    Aug 29, 2006
    I'm no expert - The Radiohead gig looks a little overwhelmed by the gig's lighting though I do like

    All potins seem to have quite uniform light levels - with focus not quite right on some.

    If you could blur the background more on the closer portrait shots that might help to get more personality for these - and if focused enough, you could crop them more?

    Booka Shade top shot is fun and the last one - you're given an easier time with the more interesting lighting arrangement giving better contrast, shadows etc

    The Juan Maclean shots look like they didn't like having photos taken.
  3. Shacklebolt thread starter macrumors 6502a


    Sep 2, 2004
    Well, for the Juan MacLean shots, I was going for candid around their practice space.

    Suppose the Radiohead gig did have some hideous lighting - I wish I'd adjusted better to it. I suppose I'm wondering, how much post-processing do you think is necessary for these shots? None of them have been photoshoped - just Aperture adjustments.
  4. snberk103 macrumors 603

    Oct 22, 2007
    An Island in the Salish Sea
    I'm a photographer, but not a concert one.... officially. Though I do some shooting for a local jazz and blues festival. However, a friend is one of Canada's best concert photographers, and I have spent time talking to her, and looking at photos.

    Don's obsess about the equipment. The most important part of the kit is the lense. I don't know enough about Nikon stuff to comment, other than to say you seem to have nice fast lenses. I assume you are shooting close to wide open? Don't open all the way up though, you can lose sharpness. Stop down 2 or 3 stops.

    Use your flash less, or at least power it down at least 1 stop, if not 2 or 3. You will totally lose the concert lighting feel with a flash photo. Your best shots were flashless. I liked the Radiohead shots.

    Are you shooting RAW or JPG? RAW will give you better files to work with, I don't know what kind of delay you will have to deal with as the camera saves the file.

    What shutterspeed are you using? Though, I didn't see obvious sign of blurring, so probably not an issue.
  5. ChrisA macrumors G4

    Jan 5, 2006
    Redondo Beach, California
    Photos are not all that bad.

    (1) Highlights, expose less, yes this makes more noise but see below on that. Use the camera's histogram display to get the exposure. Soot RAW so you can bring the shadows up if requited.

    (2) Frammming. Yes. First thing I noticed was all the subjects are dead centered in the frame. See if you can un-balance this a little. Also when to trip the shutter. When you toss a ball up into the air it goes up, stops,then comes down. Most motion is like this it stops before reverseing motion. THis is a good time to snap the shutter. Almost always it is a "key" moment in sport and performance too. Do that plus use "rule of third" and you are 90% of the way there.

    More exciting pictures? Composition, unbalanced frames and timing will do that

    3) noise. Almost all photographers who complain about noise are "pixel peeping", that is looking at 100% blowups on screen. When you publish the image it will be drastically down sampled. THe down sampling process will eliminate almost all of the noise. So, look at the images in the web using a browers and then see if they have to much noise. Well, you could simply buy a film body for about $100. Then you'd have a full frame sensor and you'd fix the blown hightlight problem too.
  6. Shacklebolt thread starter macrumors 6502a


    Sep 2, 2004
    Well also, I'm wondering if the UV filters I have on the cameras are causing some of the glare/blown highlights. In fact, I'm rather certain of it.

    What's the best way to correct this?
  7. toxic macrumors 68000

    Nov 9, 2008
    this could be from subject blur, misfocusing, or lens (doubt it). if you shoot RAW, are you output sharpening?

    this has to do with metering and/or dynamic range. if you want to keep the highlights, you have to meter for them at the risk of underexposing everything else. remember, not all highlights are important. if you want to improve dynamic range, that means D700 or D3.

    drag the shutter, try to bounce off something neutral-colored, or move the flash off-camera

    there's no getting around noise. best thing to do is expose to the right and get rid of chroma noise in post.

    work on your composition, in other words have someone critique your photos, if you don't have someone already

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