Anyone with experience shooting in clubs/bars/discos

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by jammiefreerider, Nov 5, 2007.

  1. jammiefreerider macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Aug 23, 2006
    #1
    Next month, I am going to be taking shots of bands, DJs and people in bars and nightclubs. I have no idea quite how to prepare and shoot best for this because of its difficult and variable lighting. Has anyone got any expeerience and advice of how best to go about getting some good shots. I have 40D 10-20mm and 70-200mm lenses. No flash as yet but I'm looking at Canon 430EX or Metz 44.

    Cheers
     
  2. Padaung macrumors 6502

    Padaung

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    Jan 22, 2007
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    UK
    #2
    This was taken with a small amount of fill flash. light was very poor at the venue, so ISO 400 and F4 were used. A faster lens would have been preferable. You may find an even faster ISO is needed.

    If the venue is larger, then the lighting could be more sophisticated (so better and brighter), and could well allow for some good creative shots when they use the spot lights and colour gels.

    I would advise getting to know how to use your camera in manual mode and with selective metering too as this gives you control in the constant changing light. Auto meters will often throw up unpredictable results (not a bad exposure, just not the one you were looking for) in such environments.

    A fast mid-range lens would be very useful too.

    Nikon user, so no idea about the two flash guns you mention, sorry.

    Depending on the performer, flash is not always allowed as it can be off-putting in such situations, so it's best to check first if it is OK to use or not. If they say yes, then it can be very useful as light is often very poor at such events. If you are photographing the crowd at the events, then a flash gun will be invaluable as they will invariably be in darkness!
     

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  3. mirffy macrumors member

    Joined:
    Feb 5, 2007
    #3
    The 430EX is a nice flash price/quality ratio wise.
    I'd definitely urge you to get a flash though, because even if your 70-200mm lense is a 2.8 IS you'll probably not want to set up a tripod to take your pictures ;)
    Same goes for the 10-22mm lense... that's probably f3.5-4.5 if it's the canon ef-s lense, isn't it?

    Generally speaking the last time I took indoor pictuers in dimly lit bars/coffee houses while it was dark outside I even found a classic EF 50/f1.8 lense to be at it's limits.

    A rule of thumb is, that if you want to take those pictures handheld without noticable blur, you'll need a shutter speed of at most 1/<focal length your using>.. so that would be at least 1/200 if you've zoomed in all the way with the 70-200mm lense. If you have IS that will save you three to four stops on average, setting it to roughly 1/100 or even lower (unfortunately I'm not sure about any exact values here and suggest you just try it out until you find a shutter speed that fits your needs).
    So if you don't have IS, you'll want shutter speeds of - on average - at least 1/150 (for the 70mm end) requiring your lense to have to be wide open (aperture as low as possible) for enough light, and as there is hardly any light available your pictures might turn out too dark. You can also crank up the ISO setting, but I suggest you stay with 800, maybe 1600. Higher ISO will generally get you pictures that are (usually) undesirably noisy.
    On the other hand, i just checked the review at dpreview.com and the samples look quite good even at an ISO setting of 1600, and the noise is only moderately noticeable at 3200. So I'd say: aim for an ISO setting of 800, maybe 1600.

    But to get back to my conclusion: You'll probably bite yourself if you don't get a flash. I know I did ;)
    You might not notice the lack of light too much with the 10-22mm lense, but you definitely will with the 70-200mm one.
    Obviously this all depends on how well the place is lit up and maybe the bars/nightculbs at your place have bright lights, but i somehow doubt that :)

    Let me know how those pictures turn out :)
     
  4. Grimace macrumors 68040

    Grimace

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    with Hamburglar.
    #4
    I can think of a lot of rappers who have experience shooting in clubs/bars/discos. :D
     
  5. Abstract macrumors Penryn

    Abstract

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    Dec 27, 2002
    Location:
    Location Location Location
    #5
    Neither of your lenses are good for the job. Can you borrow a 16-35 mm f/2.8 L, or a Tamron 28-75 mm f/2.8 or 17-50 mm f/2.8? How about a Sigma 24-70 mm f/2.8 or 18-50 mm f/2.8?

    You can use flash, but don't use flash when the band is playing. Some bands may not say anything, some bands may scream at you. However, NO band likes it, and it's a bit disturbing for them while they're trying to play.


    If you're taking a photo of people enjoying themselves, then you can use a flash. If you can bounce it off the ceiling, it would be better.

    To shoot the band from near the stage, you're really going to need a lens that goes anywhere from 24 to 80 mm. ANY lens that gives you some zoom in that region is good. You likely won't need any focal lengths outside of this, although a 100mm f/2 or 135 mm f/2 is great for shots far away. Your 70-200 mm f2.8 is also good. :) My biggest recommendation for you is to buy a cheapo Canon 50 mm f/1.8, and shoot the band with that lens.

    If you can't borrow any lenses that cover this focal range, then I'd use the 10-20 mm for people photos, and 70-200 mm to shoot the band. With the 70-200 mm set at 70 mm, You're not going to be able to get whole-body shots if you're standing in front of the stage. If you can stand 15 feet away from the DJ/band, then 70 mm is going to be better.


    To shoot the band, you're going to have to use shutter speeds of 1/60th of a second or faster (preferrably 1/100th seconds if you don't want motion blur), and you're likely to use ISO 800 to ISO 1600 the entire night. I'm just telling you now so that you don't stand there for 5 minutes, trying to figure out your settings. ;) Actually, just set it to ISO 1600 at the beginning, or AUTO ISO if you can. Use Shutter Priority(!!) Also, when you take portrait photos of the band or DJ, adjust your focus spot so that you focus on their face. If you're standing very close to the stage, Don't use the centre focus point to focus on the DJ's/bands face, then recompose the shot afterwards. You won't get great focus of the DJ. If you're standing a good distance away, then you can do this.
     
  6. pdxflint macrumors 68020

    pdxflint

    Joined:
    Aug 25, 2006
    Location:
    Oregon coast
    #6
    LOL!! :D That's a good one!

    To the OP:
    I'd say for the club scene, use a fairly high ISO, because slightly gritty results can be acceptable as long as they're sharp at the point of interest. Better grainy/noisy and sharp than smooth and blurry... For the bands, make sure to meter on the performers, not the lights or overall scene. Then, with that meter setting you can take wider shots of the "big picture" and not have these white spots where the band was..;) See if the exposure settings for the performers fall within a similar range, then set manually and shoot away, focusing on composition, not metering. For the crowd scenes, make yourself a reflector you can attach to your flash head (point flash up.) I used heavy notecard stock, and cut several out and kept them in my bag with two rubber bands around my flash at all times for quick use. Experiment with slower shutter speeds and rear-curtain flash synch for some neat effects, especially if there is dancing or a lot of movement. Play around with reduced flash power, up to a -1 stop. Don't worry, not everything will turn out but if you play with it, you'll be rewarded with some unexpected and interesting results. Fast lenses help, but just know your limitations, and push right up to them.

    Here's a shot of a performance on stage under lights where I metered on the part of the shot I wanted (face,) with max ISO 1600, and there was plenty of light to hand hold (note: this shot was posted once several months ago in reference to a question about the Nikkor 55-200 lens.)

    [​IMG]
    Model: NIKON D50
    ISO: 1600
    Exposure: 1/320 sec
    Aperture: f/5.0
    Focal Length: 130mm w/Nikkor 55-200 non-VR


    A club will be darker, but you'll be closer where you can probably get away with 1/60-1/125th sec on a wider lens as long as you synch with when the performer(s) are not jumping around too much. Don't forget those moments between songs when the lead singer is introducing his band, and all the behind the scene stuff that doesn't move (sound guy, amps, audience members who are stationary.) Bottom line: Have fun!!:) (and don't flash the band... ;) )
     
  7. jammiefreerider thread starter macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Aug 23, 2006
    #7
    Thanks everyone.

    My main worry now is about the unpredictability of the moving lights in the nightclub. I think get as close as possible to people with the 10-22 so I don't have to do too much battle with the lights. Then have the 70mm for shots taken from the balcony or along the bar. I guess I'm going to be taking quadruple the number of shots I'd normally take for an average shoot because I'm going to be second guessing the pattern of movement of the lights.

    Unfortunately there probably wont be much chance of me getting hold of a 20-80mm lens but I've got time to look around.
     
  8. Grimace macrumors 68040

    Grimace

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    with Hamburglar.
    #8
    getting close shots of people with a 10-22? Umm...that would be right in their faces! Unless you want to do a LOT of cropping, pick up a $70 50mm f/1.8 -- it should be in every person's kit.
     
  9. Abstract macrumors Penryn

    Abstract

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    Location:
    Location Location Location
    #9
    Sorry, I didn't mean for you to get a "20-80 mm" lens. Just thought that if you could get a zoom lens that lay anywhere between 20 and 80 mm, then it would be perfect. When I shot bands at small and mid-sized concerts, I found that the best focal lengths to use are 24 mm, 40 mm, and 70 mm. If I wanted to shoot wide, I went to 24 mm and took my shot. If I wanted a shot of someone on stage from the waist up, I shot at 40 mm, and when I wanted to get close, I shot at 70 mm. It's easy to understand why I used 24 mm and 70 mm so often. However, I shot lots of photos at 40-45 mm, which was purely coincidence. I didn't set my lens to this focal length before shooting. ;) It just happened to give me what I wanted.

    Different venues will require different focal lengths, though. I think if you use your 10-22 mm at the 22 mm end, you'll be OK. With the band or DJ, you'll need both. I still recommend getting a 50 mm f/1.4, then cropping the photo if you want to get closer. It's not the same as using a 70 mm lens, but it gives you more flexibility. :)


    Also, if the band or DJ are lit by constantly changing red and blue, etc, it's best to under-expose by 2/3rds of a stop or so, then increase the exposure later. Otherwise, you may end up with what looks like "flat" or "burn" marks on the skin, where one of the RGB colour channels probably blew. It's really hard to edit those later, even when shooting RAW. You may not have overexposed the photo, per se, but one single light source may cause one cheek, a small part of an arm, etc...., to be overexposed. Those lights aren't exactly meant to evenly illuminate things.

    Getting the WB correct would DEFINITELY help, but if the lights constantly change colours, there's not much you can do.

    Use spot or centre-weighted metering.
     
  10. MacNoobie macrumors 6502a

    MacNoobie

    Joined:
    Mar 15, 2005
    Location:
    Colorado
    #10
    DO NOT shoot with flash would be the first thing, that usually separates the people who don't know what they're doing / producing amateur shots.

    I've shot concerts all year long where I live plus some bar scenes to gloat and I've been in situations where I'm hand holding a 70-200 f/2.8 IS lens @ 1600 ISO f/2.8 and getting 1/20th of a second sometimes. I'm personally looking into some of the Canon EF 16-35L II wide angles for concerts since the 24 @ 1.3x sensor crop doesnt work so wide angles are a must if u dont have room.

    I usually find that pushing the EV down -2 to -3 helps keep the backgrounds black (if the performer is under really bright light or you just want to isolate him or her). Other then that keep it above 1 over focal length unless you have an IS lens.. below are some of the shots I've done with just using the natural lighting.. a couple of bar shots with a 580 EX flash and diffuser.

    Just to Illustrate a point this shot below was taken with flash. This first one wasn't my flash someone else managed to fire one off when I took this shot.
    [​IMG]

    The rest of these are flash free:

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    more on http://www.zieba-photo.smugmug.com
     
  11. jammiefreerider thread starter macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Aug 23, 2006
    #11
    Thanks thats great advice everyone. £35 for a 50mm lens mmm... thats definately more affordable than I thought I would be. Sorry Abstract I knew what you meant I was just saving time writing 20-80mm because I didn't have an exact idea of what lens I would go for.

    I will now go shopping :)

    I will not flash the band :D

    To the gig, I will wear the biggest baggiest badass clothes I can find and shoot those mutherfunkers like I'm P.Diddy :cool:
     
  12. form macrumors regular

    form

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    Location:
    in a country
    #12
    For a night concert outdoors, I used a small amount of bounced flash to brighten shadows about 50% of the time and a Tamron 28-75 f/2.8 lens. A few times I switched to a Sigma 10-20 for wide shots. I tried to keep ISO between 400 and 800, 28-75 aperture around f/3.5, and Sigma aperture at minimum. Shutter speeds were between 1/30 and 1/80 most of the time. I was on the stage with the band.

    http://photography-on-the.net/forum/showthread.php?t=391495
     
  13. ChrisBrightwell macrumors 68020

    ChrisBrightwell

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    Location:
    Huntsville, AL
    #13
    Save a few rare exceptions, I'd dump the idea of using a flash. It distracts the performers, throws harsh light, and completely destroys the effect of on-stage lights. It might work for crowd shots, but you'll need a good diffuser or something to bounce the light off of.

    Your 10-22 (if it's the EF-S lens from Canon) will almost definitely be too slow. If you're on the edge of the stage, you might be able to full a few interesting shots from it. In most cases I've seen f/3.5 is somewhat usable and f/4.5 is a waste of time.

    Which 70-200 are you using? The f/2.8 versions will probably work pretty well, but the f/4 versions are right on the cusp of being unusably slow for any challenging lighting situation.

    If you can spare the change, pick up an EF 50mm f/1.8 II. It's a bit long on your 40D, but it's fast, sharp, and cheap. You might have to shoot manual focus on it (the micro motor focus mechanism sucks in low light), but odds are it'll save your ass when your other lenses give you nothing but blur.

    Plan to shoot full manual. Metering is impossible w/ erratic concert lighting. The spot metering on your 40D might do the trick, but I wouldn't count on it.

    Plan to shoot ISO1600 or ISO3200. 3200 will make your current lenses a lot more usable, but you'll pay the price in image noise.

    Shoot RAW instead of JPG. The greater dynamic range will let you underexpose a bit (up to a full stop in many cases) and make up for it in post. It'll also let you do color correction in post if you need to.
     
  14. Psychic Shopper macrumors member

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    Oct 12, 2003
    Location:
    Cleveland Ohio
    #14
    Table tripod

    I used to use a small tripod and put it on a table, it worked great for all the sucky local bands I shot. I now have A Nikon digital camera and I used the"night portrait "setting for this picture
     

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  15. jammiefreerider thread starter macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Aug 23, 2006
    #15
    The lenses I have are:
    Sigma 10-20mm f4-5.6 EX DC HSM (Chose the sigma over the Canon because of the better build quality and better value for money)
    Canon 70-200mm f4L IS USM
     
  16. isleofjib macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Jan 21, 2007
    Location:
    CT
    #16
    i'm going to have to agree with the rest here-f4 is usually just too slow for concert/stage shooting. 2.8 is usually the minumum and if you can get some primes that are 1.8 (50mm or 85mm), that would be ideal. the IS lenses would be great too. primes aren't as convenient as zooms when shooting cuz you'll have to move around more. also, flash ruins the lighting effect from the stage lights. the only reason i'd use it is if you know the band, they're inviting you to take the pics for promo stuff, and they're a small-time band on a small stage with little or no quality stage lighting. but shooting bands is a lot of fun and well worth the effort. best of luck to you.
     
  17. wheezy macrumors 65816

    wheezy

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    Apr 7, 2005
    Location:
    Alpine, UT
    #17
    Prime Lenses

    The fastest way to get best quality is the 50mm 1.8 for about $70.

    If this is something you're going to be doing regularly, I'd buy some good Prime lenses (no zooming). They always have a much faster aperture. I shot in a small club, with little to no lighting using the 50 1.8 and a 135 2.0L that I own, at ISO 3200 on my 20D and I got a nice collection of shots, some you wouldn't believe were ISO 3200 (Go Canon Digic Processors!).

    So bottomline, IS is nice, but for me Prime with F2.0 or faster is a terrific way to go. My 135 F2L is just a FANTASTIC lens, and you can find it for less than $900. Yes, that's expensive, but for an L, it's in the middle of the price range, and you can find that you'll use that focal length more than you'd expect. I recommend it 5 stars and then some.

    [​IMG]

    Canon 20D, ISO 3200, 135mm, f2.0, No flash
     
  18. dazey macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Dec 9, 2005
    #18
    Club photography is a little bit different to gig photography, in fact quite a bit different. I used to do gig photography in my youth and ocassionally do a bit if a band is in on a club. For this I agree with the rest, no flash (although some will use a bit of fill), spot meter off faces and hope the lights are kind to you. I always used to use a 50mm prime (35mm on digital), you could probably use a 50 combined with something else
    In club land however people are not lit, you need flash. You also need the flash for autofocus assist, you can manual focus for gigs but not clubs. 50mm lenses are virtually useless in clubs as they are too long, I use a 28mm f1.8. Two schools of though on exposure, either run low iso and very long shutter speeds to capture ambient (flash will freeze the subject) or high iso and shorter shutter speeds. Either way you need to be using manual mode and exposing for background.
    You can see some of my stuff at www.dazedproductions.co.uk/clubpics
     
  19. MacNoobie macrumors 6502a

    MacNoobie

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    Mar 15, 2005
    Location:
    Colorado
    #19
    How I wish I could go to the UK and go to a rave...

    Btw for some reason spot metering for me no matter what leads to just piss poor photos that are usually so under exposed that I just end up with the matrix metering.

    Ala:

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
     

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