As with any form of digital photography, shooting live music concerts and other performances successfully depends on understanding how to use your camera in a challenging environment. Part 2 of this two-part PhotographyTalk.com article shares a number of tips that will help you shoot in a variety of lighting conditions, from dark to very bright light shows, and capture moving performers.
Check your equipment.
Be more of a professional and make sure your digital camera and all other photographic equipment are clean and in working order, prior to the shoot.
Charge your batteries and take an extra.
Mid-sized memory cards are best; so all your photos won’t be on one card. Take extra cards that are blank. Transfer any files to your computer.
Know your contacts.
Prepare a complete list of all contacts involved with the performance: venue manager, security chief, stage crew leader and band liaison. Include full names, cell phone numbers, etc. Be prepared to refer to this list often during the performance, since you may have to contact someone if, for example, security personnel decide to deny you access to certain areas. Arrive early and try to introduce yourself to everyone, so they can easily identify you later.
Wear invisible attire.
You may notice that the stage crew and security personnel at many concerts wear black clothing. The reason is so they won’t distract the audience. It also makes it easier to identify each other. Wear black clothing, especially when shooting a larger concert, so you’re also invisible to the patrons.
Take control in manual mode.
What many professionals have learned is that, despite all the automatic exposure and focusing modes on even the most advanced DSLR cameras, live music concerts in a hall or other entertainment venue should be photographed in manual mode. One of the best reasons is that it will make you a better photographer. You’ll have to make exposure and focusing decisions quickly because you’re shooting a live event.
The other reason to shoot in manual mode is that your camera simply can’t read the light and the action sufficiently to select the right exposure and focus automatically.
Spot metering will help you correctly expose digital photos of a specific performer that is backlit or illuminated with flashing and/or colored lights.
Avoid the aperture priority mode (AV) and shutter priority mode (TV). They may seem to have been invented to shoot live concerts, but they may try to compensate for the unusual lighting conditions with exposure settings beyond the camera’s limit.
Shoot at the widest aperture setting, with the auto-focus in servo mode. This will provide you with the additional depth of field you may need if you are shooting a face image of a moving performer and you want the eyes in focus.
You may be able to use auto-exposure and auto-focus settings when you’re shooting digital photography of live music concerts outdoors. That only applies to daylight, however; at night, the lighting conditions will be similar to a show indoors. You may find that your exposure and focus settings when shooting in small clubs is somewhere between daylight and nighttime and indoor performances. Your camera may be able to read the light and focus in a club’s low, but even, light. Try manual mode as well for a greater variety of digital photos of an intimate show.