Live Music pictures - please help me out

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by Keleko, Feb 24, 2011.

  1. Keleko macrumors 68000

    Joined:
    Mar 26, 2008
    #1
    Last week when I was in a restaurant to take pictures, I learned about this duo performing in a few days. I went back to hear them and take some pictures. I've been trying to figure out how to do performance pictures, and I seem to be getting better, but I would like some input.

    The duo is GibbsCash (www.gibbscash.com) for anyone that cares to look them up.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    What I did was set shutter priority and tried speeds at 1/200 and 1/250. After my experience on Sunday with my pastor's candid shot (seen in the current contest thread) I wanted to make sure I had a fast enough speed to avoid blur. However, that meant I was forced to shoot between 3200 and 6400 ISO and f/2.0 with my 50mm to get good exposure (I let the camera pick those). That means I lost a lot of facial details because of the noise, and I went somewhat heavy handed on the noise reduction to get clean looking images. I used spot meter on the picture of the young lady. For some reason I used multi-metered for the other two.

    My question is, did I go too high on the shutter speed? Should I have lowered it some so I could get a lower ISO and more detail? What's a good shutter speed for poorly lit live music events (along with other settings) to not get motion blur?

    As for the post processing, it was mostly cleaning out the noise, adjusting levels, shadows and highlights and so forth. The only special effect I did was add a soft light glow to the young lady's portrait.
     
  2. jackerin macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Jun 29, 2008
    Location:
    Finland
    #2
    In my opinion, yes.
    The slowest you can set it to without causing blur. This will vary a lot between performers and situations, and there's no "optimal" setting, just try different things and see what works for you.
     
  3. sebascrub macrumors member

    Joined:
    Jun 2, 2007
    Location:
    Calgary, AB
    #3
    I shoot concerts almost exclusively and often in small indie rock bars that have terrible, almost non-existent lighting (and most often, blindingly red). After a couple of shoots, I began to learn what kind of settings work best on my D5000.

    Of course, having a fast lens is extremely important — way more than high ISO performance, IMO. I shoot with a 35 mm f/1.8, but I briefly shot with a 50mm f/1.4 (before I lost it :() and there was a noticeable difference in that extra bit of light-gathering capabilities.

    Ultimately, I guess it depends what you're going to do with the photos. Mine are printed on b&w newsprint, so having immaculate detail and sharpness aren't as important as capturing the moment in a way that reflects the subsequent review. Plus, it's a rock and roll magazine, so gritty photos are a plus. :D

    I tend to use manual settings and start at my base: f/1.8, 1/60s, ISO between 1600-3200, depending on the light. This allows me to get shots in the dark, basically, and avoid camera shake. If the light is good, the first thing I do is increase the shutter speed, but I've never really shot a concert where I could go over 1/100 or 1/250, I think. When I'm pressured/lazy/loaded, I use Aperture Priority and keep it as wide open as possible.

    Of course, you're going to want to use spot metering since the high dynamic range of the scene (super dark background, lit face) can confuse matrix metering and throw you off. And don't worry if your camera is telling you that the scene is underexposed — you can always bring that up a bit in PP.

    More than anything, I've learned to shoot at the right time, which can be challenging when you're only allowed to shoot during the first three songs. With relatively slow shutter speeds, I have to wait for the performer to be still-ish. Of course, being rock shows, they rarely are and having a still photo doesn't really convey the energy and excitement. I try to time my shots so that it looks like I caught the vocalist/guitarist/whatever at the right moment, but in reality, they weren't really moving all that much. That way, I can get away with shutter speeds of 1/50 or 1/60.

    I've also been experimenting with the continuous release mode and shooting in bursts to then pick the best photo of the moment, but I haven't quite mastered that yet. I prefer to select single shot and mash the shutter!

    Focusing is also pretty tough in low-light situations. I just shot Streetlight Manifesto on Tuesday and tried AF-C and Dynamic Area for the first time and I found that I was at least nailing the focus much more than when I set it to AF-A and 3D.

    After that, I do minimal PP. I usually convert to b&w, since it's going to be printed that way, reduce the noise a bit and increase the sharpening and contrast. I've been getting good results with the Nik Software Viveza 2 plug-in, which allows me to selectively increase/decrease the brightness/contrast/saturation of the image. I can darken the background and boost the singer's face, for instance, to create more dynamic photos.

    Phew! OK, that's a lot of typing. Check out my flickr, if you're so inclined, where I post a couple of my favourite concert shots. I'm not a pro by any means — more like just a rock and roll kid that dabbles in photography — but I'd be more than happy to help out with any questions you have!
     
  4. G.T. macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Jul 12, 2008
  5. JoshBoy macrumors 6502

    JoshBoy

    Joined:
    Oct 12, 2008
    Location:
    Sydney, Australia
    #5
    You are blurring the skin and processing way to much, with a live performance like this you shouldn't be running these filters over it (like a glamour shot)

    My advise is that you should lower the shutter speed but shoot off a mono pod or tripod - this will help a lot. Your main aim at this point is to shoot on as low an ISO number as possible, the lower the better.

    For low light I love my 50mm 1.8 but you must be quick because it is such a shallow depth of field you are working with so that can be a challenge.

    My final advise is with the post production work on the photos keep the mood there, the contrasts of light and dark, don't over do it.

    Hope this helps.

    Cheers

    josh
     
  6. jabbott macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Nov 23, 2009
    #6
    I've shot thousands of shots at heavy metal shows and my approach has been to use a 50mm f/1.4 USM and take as many shots as I can get while maintaining decent framing. Getting lots of shots is a necessity because the stage action is so fast and the time to photograph each band is so short. Although I typically shoot RAW, I prefer JPEG for concerts for two reasons: 1) Stage lighting is so random that being able to adjust white balance after the fact with RAW doesn't do much at all; and 2) the extra buffer space when shooting in burst-mode JPEG is really nice. As was mentioned earlier, spot metering is a must. After each show, I download all the shots and sort through them in Aperture, tagging each decent one with at least a three star rating. Then I create three smart albums for each act, one that is 3+ stars, one that is 4+ stars and one that is 5-star only shots.

    As for shutter speed, I've been able to get some really nice photos of hair flying at 1/60s (here is one) so I don't think you need to go too much faster than that. Anything faster will start to sacrifice image quality by forcing your ISO speed higher.

    A fast aperture lens is also a must. A 50mm f/1.4 lens lets in 65% more light than a 50mm f/1.8 and 300% more light than a 50mm f/2.8. This will help keep your ISO speed lower. The drawbacks of most fast aperture lenses are lack of corner sharpness, increased coma and chromatic aberration, as well as inaccurate autofocus in low light, but the benefits of creamy bokeh and getting deep, natural color with only available light make it all worthwhile.

    Good luck with future shoots and keep us all posted with how things turn out!
     
  7. joepunk macrumors 68030

    joepunk

    Joined:
    Aug 5, 2004
    Location:
    a profane existence
    #7
    Have a look and search for more questions and answers at the Flickr Group: Concert Photography

    Lots of great help there.

    And I would like to second what many have said. And looking at the Canon 60D on dpreview.com it looks like you can get great detail at iso1600 and good detail at 3200. I wouldn't go any higher. Oh, and shoot manual and definitely don't use shutter priority.

    Just for the heck of it I don't mind that soft glow added to the girl. But that bookcase is very distracting to my eyes. Maybe crop it a bit more. If I was trying to get an accurate representation of the singer then I wouldn't add any photoshop filter effects but if I wanted to just have fun then maybe.
     
  8. Bauldrick macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Aug 17, 2010
    #8
    Hiya,
    here is some wise words...if you are looking at doing concert photography as a job, Shoot RAW, I think I read through your post you shoot Jpeg...This is from a person that was scared of changing to a dslr and used jpeg for 2 months before the change.
    I only ever shoot RAW now and I have done, commercial shots and a friends wedding, on both times the decision to shoot RAW saved me from certain disasters and allowed me to have freedom of shooting.
    Try shooting a palm tree with the bright sun behind it, try and change the white balance of a JPEG from the glare of the sun to the plam tree...
    I had on 1 instance had to change the white ballance from the bright mid-day reflection of windows to the white ballance of a wedding cake...and keep the colour of the cake and the ribbon on the cake the correct colour..

    Finally go to a web site of www.froknowsphoto.com/ ..the best place to go to ask questions and get answers from real pros regarding concerty photography etc..Do It Now!!!

    youtube --froknowsphoto

    a small critique--The gradient on the female singer (single shot) shows its a jpeg shot. If they wanted to use that on a DVD design of an album it would look a little crappy. To get a cleaner picture I would have used a 70-300 lens & don't listen to these fools saying slow the ISO down and put the camera on a monopod or tripod stay within 800-3200++ ISO and have the freedom to move around the venue

    Wow thats alot
    Kindest Regards
    Bauldrick
     
  9. Keleko thread starter macrumors 68000

    Joined:
    Mar 26, 2008
    #9
    I said they were because of the noise. There wasn't enough detail, so I went heavy on the noise reduction instead.
     
  10. Keleko thread starter macrumors 68000

    Joined:
    Mar 26, 2008
    #10
    I only shoot in RAW. The gradient is from lack of detail at the high ISO and the heavy noise reduction I used in processing.

    A mono or tripod would not have really worked in this situation because the venue is too small. Actually, I could have used the table where I was sitting. I did use it for the video I took of one of the songs to remove any camera shake. Also, anything longer than 50mm wouldn't work where I was sitting. I was just right for framing both the performers at 50mm, so I'd have to move back for anything longer. There wasn't really a "back" to move to. Also, I don't have a 70-300, nor the money for a good one right now. The 50mm is the only lens I have with enough aperture for a low light, no flash setting.

    I really appreciate the advice so far. As to the processing, yes, I'll mention again that they are highly noise reduced. They just didn't look good at all to me if I didn't do that. So, they don't look at all like a typical concert photo because of that. And yes, I did decide to "have fun" with the girl's photo with the effect. I didn't think the bookcase was a distraction because the light on it was much darker than it is on her. I'll try cropping some more off the top to see how it looks.
     
  11. jabbott macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Nov 23, 2009
    #11
    I should clarify what I said yesterday about RAW vs. JPEG. I normally always shoot RAW... However, my camera (Canon Rebel T2i) only allows about two seconds of burst-mode RAW shots, which then forces the camera to stop taking photos for a few seconds. This is extremely frustrating to deal with when you only have a few minutes to get shots. At least for heavy metal photography, the stage lighting is usually so "cooked" that no amount of white balance adjustment using RAW helps. Because of that, I find that using JPEG allows the camera to not fill the buffer as quickly, allowing me to get many more shots than otherwise possible. This advice is only for when your time is extremely limited (e.g. three song limit) and you absolutely must get as many shots as possible. Otherwise shoot RAW and be happy with the ability to do better post processing. :)
     
  12. sebascrub macrumors member

    Joined:
    Jun 2, 2007
    Location:
    Calgary, AB
    #12
    Agreed. Lighting is going to be all over the place unless you can shoot a quiet cafe like the OP. I also experimented with RAW, but like jabbott, I found that I prefer having the extra buffer capacity that smaller JPEGs allow.

    In concerts, it's all about maximizing your opportunity for a great shot. It's not uncommon that I'll go through like 200+ photos in the first three songs. Of course, when I get home, I throw most of them away (repeats, OOF) and each show is only about 15-25 of what I consider my 5-star favourites. I only keep what I would submit to print (even though I only submit two or three) or if one captures a cool memory for me.
     
  13. davegregory macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Jul 7, 2009
    Location:
    Burlington, Ontario
    #13
    I've got to agree with everyone else here in that the photos are over processed and lack any detail. Don't worry about ISO noise. If the photo is so boring that anyone is noticing the noise, you've got other issues. Your exposure is fine, it's just the photos have that painterly effect.
     
  14. Keleko thread starter macrumors 68000

    Joined:
    Mar 26, 2008
    #14
    I'll try redoing the edits to be less processed and repost them. I'm kind of burnt out today after all that I've had to do this week (and month), so I'll get to it when I'm feeling more motivated.
     
  15. MattSepeta macrumors 65816

    MattSepeta

    Joined:
    Jul 9, 2009
    Location:
    375th St. Y
    #15
    What happened to their skin????

    You can get away with shooting 1/60th, depending on lens and fstop used.

    When I shoot live music I shoot it natural light, Keep my shutter at or around 1/60th depending on lens, and keep my f/stop as low as possible, changing ISO to suit.

    Most of it lies on hitting the shutter at the right moment.
     
  16. Bauldrick macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Aug 17, 2010
    #16
    If your looking at doing concerts you might have to laydown the money to relpace the T2i--It has be suppassed, don't just go to the T3i as it has the same quality and stuff as the T2i...do some research and get something that has good ISO range..and get good glass too. You should have 3 types --A telephoto, normal, fisheye

    Bauldrick
    :)
     
  17. Bauldrick macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Aug 17, 2010
    #17
    You motor drive your shots:eek: don't just take photos do backround searches of the bands, see what others have taken of the group and try improve from there... You sorta stated you take 200+ for three songs. and out those you only have a few good ones...hmmm from my working out you only get 6% good ones...thats wasting your time and degrading your equipment. You need to sit down and think where your going wrong..Stage 1 no motor drive ok mate...

    Bauldrick
    :)
     
  18. sebascrub macrumors member

    Joined:
    Jun 2, 2007
    Location:
    Calgary, AB
    #18
    Yeah, I take a ton of photos in only 10 minutes! I have to ensure that I have a great shot to print and it costs me absolutely nothing (not even pride) to shoot like a maniac. Most of the ones I cut are duplicates: if I fill up my buffer, I'm going to have 5-6 keepers of the exact same moment, perhaps 2 seconds apart from start to finish. I'm not going to keep all 6! I'll pick my favourite one and move on. I would much rather have 6% of keepers than shoot "sparingly" (which seems to, in many places, equate to "professionally," whatever that may mean) and get no shots. I've only been shooting about 6 months and while I've done 20+ concerts thus far, I would never pretend I'm an expert. I improve each time I head out! Maybe my keeper rate increases, maybe it doesn't, but as long as I'm getting a great shot to print, I'm doing my job as a concert photographer. All it takes is that one shot and everyone thinks the rest of them are amazing. :D

    Also, I'm curious: what would be the difference between "motor driving" my shots (which I take to mean mashing the shutter in Single Fire mode) and setting the shutter to Continuous and filling up the buffer? I'm still only going to keep the 15-20 that I like the best. The rest are superfluous.
     
  19. jackerin macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Jun 29, 2008
    Location:
    Finland
    #19
    "Suppassed" by what, in terms of high ISO quality? "Relpace" it with which model? The T2i shares sensor with the T3i, 60D and 7D, so you'd have to go to either APS-H or full-frame to get anything significantly better.
     
  20. firestarter macrumors 603

    firestarter

    Joined:
    Dec 31, 2002
    Location:
    Green and pleasant land
    #20
    A few observations.

    1/ Try and get over your dislike of noise. As long as it's random luminance noise (chroma noise doesn't look good), it's a lot less damaging to a picture than over-smoothing. If you have a pre-processed version of these they would be good to see.

    2/ I don't find the 50 f1.4 to be sharp at 1.4 - and that makes a difference.

    3/ Try using a monopod to give you some support. You could easily get down from 1/250 to 1/60 - and that would let you drop the ISO by 2 stops.

    4/ Your focussing is a bit off. The guy's face and glasses doesn't look sharp - but his mic and guitar headstock do. Always focus on the eyes.
     
  21. Keleko thread starter macrumors 68000

    Joined:
    Mar 26, 2008
    #21
    I've started reprocessing the RAWs with less noise reduction, but I haven't gotten very far yet. I'll try to finish this week.

    I was at f/2.0 on my 50mm/1.8. I know it is less sharp at the more open aperture. I don't have the cash for more and better lenses right now because braces and other dental work for my kids is taking all my spare cash right now.

    Monopod is on the list of items to get. See above. :(

    I'm surprised that the focus is off because I was setting the AF point on the eyes. I haven't had a problem with other pictures I've taken with this lens. Don't ask me to manual focus because I know I can't do that well, especially when trying to focus on a moving subject.
     
  22. firestarter macrumors 603

    firestarter

    Joined:
    Dec 31, 2002
    Location:
    Green and pleasant land
    #22
    Actually, Canon's 50 f1.8 is probably sharper on a cropped sensor than the 50 f1.4!
     
  23. Keleko thread starter macrumors 68000

    Joined:
    Mar 26, 2008
    #23
    Here's a re-edit of the singer's photo. I didn't realize how off the color was on the first edit until I compared it to the raw again. I was working on a different computer that was not calibrated, so I'll attribute it to that. :) I used much less noise reduction with this one, and I made a better attempt at keeping the skin detail. The crop is obviously different, too. I wanted to see how it looked with more of the bottom showing this time.

    Better? Worse?

    [​IMG]
     
  24. firestarter macrumors 603

    firestarter

    Joined:
    Dec 31, 2002
    Location:
    Green and pleasant land
    #24
    Her face still looks like mush. Did you locally noise reduce on her face?

    Why not post one with no noise reduction?
     
  25. jabbott macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Nov 23, 2009
    #25
    Thanks but the T2i is still quite capable of doing concert photography. I believe you may be misinformed about what constitutes a "good ISO range". The T2i image sensor and ISO range are very similar to the T3i, 60D and 7D. The more expensive 5D Mark II has the same ISO range (without expansion) but only auto-selects between ISO 100-3200. The 1Ds Mark III only provides up to ISO 3200. The 1D Mark IV offers much higher ISO range but it costs $4900. For that much money, one could purchase a 35mm f/1.4L, 50mm f/1.4, 85mm f/1.2L and 135 f/2L which would mitigate the need for using very high ISO speeds anyway.
     

Share This Page