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Photography QnA: Indoor/Low-Light Photography

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Category: All About Photography : Photographing Specific Subjects : Indoor/Low-Light Photography

Want to discuss low light photography candlelight scenes? How about indoor photography exposure settings? Any questions about low-light photography are welcome here.

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Photography Question 
Baloi 

member since: 5/28/2003
  41 .  Shooting Indoors - Fluorescent Lighting
 
  Sample of yellowish hue photo
Sample of yellowish hue photo
f4, focal 60mm, indoors, fluorescent lighting
© Baloi
Olympus Camedia C-...
 
I have a Nikon D70 and am often asked to take pictures for our congregation. The room we are renting has fluorescent lighting. I will set to the widest aperture I can get (about f4) on aperture-priority, focal length will of 60mm, and everything else is on auto including white balance. My photos always turn out with a yellowish hue to it, and it looks so ugly, like my subjects have a liver disease or something. What can I do to fix this problem?

11/22/2004 12:51:01 PM

George F. Howard
BetterPhoto Member
georgefhoward.com

member since: 8/6/2004
  Set your white balance to fluorescent, before you take the photos (or use the RAW format, if that is available). For photos already taken, use a photo editing program to adjust the hue.

11/22/2004 5:23:25 PM

David King

member since: 9/12/2004
  George is right, a good starting point is to set your white balance to "fluorescent." For the more common bulbs, that works quite well and will get you a lot closer than auto. You can also use the preset mode and do a manual white balance which is good if there is any mixed lighting in the scene.

He is also correct about shooting RAW. The bit depth is much greater and allows for better color capture in those odd-light shots. The best solution is in the capture end of things. Fluorescents have a VERY narrow spectrum of light and consequently are not so easily corrected by global corrections that are really designed for correcting wide-spectrum light or color cast problems.

However, if you must do the corrections after the fact, on the first frame include a grey card prominently in the shot. Once in the editing program such as Photoshop, you can use that neutral patch to let levels or curves adjust the color balance. Note the corrections it did to the color channels and then apply that to the other frames.

David
www.ndavidking.com

11/23/2004 6:41:40 AM

Baloi 

member since: 5/28/2003
  Thank you so much for all your answers. I will try it out.

11/23/2004 9:36:06 AM

Tom 

member since: 1/8/2004
  I agree with both the above answers. You can also purchase an FD filter which will also combat the effects of the lighting. I would try and do some preshooting of the area if you can with the different settings on your camera.

11/23/2004 9:43:01 AM

Larry 

member since: 2/20/2002
  Am I missing something here, or wouldn't a dedicated flash attachment with a diffuser be better?

11/23/2004 4:01:34 PM

Greg McCroskery
BetterPhoto Member
imagismphotos.com

member since: 2/27/2003
  Baloi,
Auto white balance settings tend to have difficulty with fluorescent lighting color. I would recommend doing a custom white balance setting using either a neutral white or gray card prior to shooting. Another very good alternative (although a little pricey) is to purchase an item called "ExpoDisc" that fits over the end of your lens to do a custom white balance setting. All reviews I have seen of this product indicate that it is very accurate and easy to use, regardless of the type or mix of lighting.
God Bless,
Greg

11/23/2004 4:11:56 PM

Ken Henry

member since: 9/16/2003
  Just as Greg says Custom White Balance works perfect in any kind of lighting.
Because;
Flourescent tubes have changed today, from tungsten yellow 3000 kelvin to super bright white 6500k(a little bluish cast).

Question: As you look at your monitor before you take the picture, do you see clear colors without any yellow or green cast?
If you are having a lab print your photos then they need to add one magenta and minus two yellows.
And if you are printing them out......

ken

11/26/2004 4:58:02 PM

David King

member since: 9/12/2004
  Larry, you asked about uising a dedicated flash unit w/ diffuser. if the flash was the primary source of light or the only source of light on the subjects then it would certainly solve the white balance issue. But if the need was to use the flash to fill rather than overpower ambient light then the white balance problem continues. The advantage to a dedicated unit is the ability to use the TTL metering to set the flash to provide just the amount of fill desired.

The downside is that flash-on-camera, even with a diffuser, tends to be mediocre lighting stylistically. If Baloi was to use a portable flash unit, it would be better to mount it on a stand at the proper angle or, at least, use a handle or bracket mount that put it in a more flattering position than on the camera body close to the lens. Plus things look really wierd when the people are perfectly color balanced and the background is some bizarre off-shade of greenish yellow.

David
www.ndavidking.com

11/26/2004 9:03:01 PM

Gregory LaGrange
BetterPhoto Member
gregorylagrange.org

member since: 11/11/2003
  top to a pringles can is said to work like that so called pricey expo disc.

11/27/2004 12:24:46 AM

Baloi 

member since: 5/28/2003
  George, Tom, Larry, Greg, Ken and David
Thanks for all your input guys. The adjusting to fluorescent WB seem to have worked but when I use it in combination with using the built-in flash in the camera, the picture now is a little bluish. Without a flash, it's more natural. In doing the custom white balance using a gray card, I need to take a reading off the gray card in the room, right? I need to have the same quality of light on the card? I don't have a card yet but I will buy one.

11/27/2004 2:30:23 PM

Gregory LaGrange
BetterPhoto Member
gregorylagrange.org

member since: 11/11/2003
  use something white to set white balance with the same kind of light.

11/27/2004 5:41:33 PM

Victor J. 

member since: 7/29/2003
  Baloi, I would add to what George and David have said which is excellent; READ YOUR MANUAL. Your D70 is an excellent DSLR that should be able to adjust for your problem, Of course you can always correct after the fact as well as has been stated. Vic

11/28/2004 10:18:28 AM

Ken Henry

member since: 9/16/2003
  Using Flash and white balance at the same time?

What David says is very correct.

Your flash appears to be fill-in verses primary light source.

Here is how I power-up my digital or film in-camera flash for primary light source. I use exposure priority and set to highest sinc speed about 1/125. Then I set flash compensation to +1 or +2. The background virtually goes black.

The following I use for fill flash;

You need to correct the flash color to simulate lighting color in the room when you use white balance or corrective filters over the lenses. This eliminates wasted time on the computer.

Example: For evening tungsten lighting I use a 1/2 C.T. Orange Gel over my flash. This corrects flash from 5500K daylight to 2800K tungsten. This pretty well matches household tungsten lighting.

Flourescent lighting I would use "plus green" filters over my flash. 1/2 or 3/4 green.

I don't like the "white balance look" so I use a 80C blue filter for tungsten and a FL-D flourescent filter over my lenses.

11/28/2004 10:18:36 PM

Baloi 

member since: 5/28/2003
  Vic, thanks for writing. I love my D70, it allowed me to greatly improve, I used to just take snapshots, but now I can say I can create pictures. Still not that great, getting there though. I do read my manual.

Ken, I don't understand what you mean by the "white balance" look, but I will try your techniques.

Thank you all.

11/29/2004 4:48:00 PM

Victor J. 

member since: 7/29/2003
  Baloi: White Balancing:Adjusting the camera to compensate for the type of light hitting the subject. Eliminates unwanted color casts produced by some light sources, such as flouoreseat office lighting.Different light sources have varying color temperature, which is a fancy way of saying that they contain different amounts of red, green,and blue light. You can set your camera to that specific light or your camera can do it automatically. With out reading your manual I'm sure it's there. Vic

11/29/2004 6:37:16 PM

Ken Henry

member since: 9/16/2003
  White Balance to me is just toooo unaturaly white. To me everything turns Toupe and bland. Your eyes of course naturally adjust to many color casts. But, they do not eliminate them.

example: In your living room with all your tungsten lamps switched on, look at your monitor with the white balance turned on. You'll need to turn off your flash and use manual settings.

Now, look at your room aside from your camera. Does the white balance on your camera match the natural white balance from your eyes?

Next, set your camera to daylight and put an 80C blue filter in front of your lens. And see if you like the saturated colors better and of course the natural lighting.

11/29/2004 8:14:10 PM

Baloi 

member since: 5/28/2003
  Thanks everybody! I appreciate all the help.

With sincere gratitude,
Baloi

11/30/2004 5:13:17 AM

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Photography Question 
Michael Zantides

member since: 11/13/2004
  42 .  Dance Concert Shooting
I have a Canon EOS 3000N and would like to shoot zoomed photos of my daughter in a dance concert without flash. The zoom needs to be at least 300. Please advise ... Suggested lens type? Do I need IS (image stabilization)? Film type 800? Camera settings? Tripod?
Thanks.

11/13/2004 5:31:06 PM

Gregory LaGrange
BetterPhoto Member
gregorylagrange.org

member since: 11/11/2003
  Staying with your requirement of 300mm, the best lens to use would be a 300 2.8. But that's not considering price. So if price is a concern, you may have to come down on the focal length to around 200mm. There are 70-200 2.8 zooms and telephotos that are 200 and 2.8. The cheapest price is around 650.
IS will help prevent the hand-holding blur, but doesn't do anything for blur from movement if you don't pan with the subject.
You'll need 800 even with a 2.8 lens.
A tripod will work like an IS.

11/14/2004 2:13:57 PM

Barbara Sherman
barbarashermanphoto.com

member since: 4/7/2002
 
 
 
I have done several of dance concerts. I always use a tripod and 400 or 800 ISO (I now have a digital SLR). Make sure you meter off a gray card if possible because often the backdrops are black and you can end up with an underexposed photo. I try to take the pictures during dress rehearsal so I can get closer to the stage. Lighting is often brighter in the theater then too!If you know the dance you can pick the spots where the action is slow or stopped. I also always shoot continuous shot (4-6). I haven't found a good way to get rid of some of the "racoon" eyed though. Hope this helps.
Barb

11/16/2004 10:35:35 AM

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Photography Question 
Michelle Thalen

member since: 11/4/2004
  43 .  Chicken Barn Shoot
I have been asked to take pictures of a family in their chicken barn with little baby chicks. I know that the lighting will be very poor. Dark. I am thinking I may have to take some with me. I will also have the movement of the chicks and kids. Any suggestions on settings that I should use and modes? I am a beginner, so not that comfortable with manual yet. Thank you.

11/5/2004 5:47:54 AM

Karma Wilson
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 6/27/2004
  Low light with moving subjects can be tough. Ask if they have a heat lamp set up for the chicks. This can be very nice soft lighting. It's a nice yellow tone that complements the yellow hue of the chicks. If they have one set up they might be able to pull it up a little higher so the family can sit under it with the chicks ... but watch for shadows. Try to get hay or straw in the background as it goes so nicely with the chicks and mood.
But if it's too tough ask that the chicks be moved to the chicken yard. A backdrop with chicken wire could be very suitable for the subject matter and outdoor lighting is almost always better.
As for modes, indoors with a heat lamp or artificial lighting you could get away with auto perhaps, but use a tripod! If you're outdoors you could easily use auto. If you're dealing with somebody holding just one chick though use portrait mode, stand back and zoom in. This will soften your subjects and give you much better DOF.
If you can't bring your own light, and they have fluorescent, I would insist on going outdoors. It's a very uncomplimentary harsh light in my opinion.
Good luck!

11/5/2004 9:01:21 AM

Carolina K. Smith
CarolinaSmith.com

member since: 3/28/2004
  Hi,
Bracket your exposures to increase the odds of getting a good shot. And (I used to raise poultry!), if you have an SLR, try and change your lens outside the barn. Poultry barns and coops are notoriously dusty :)
Good luck.

11/9/2004 7:23:24 AM

  Hi Michelle,

If they want the photos inside the coop, I suggest using off-camera flash. This will give enough light to stop movement without the harshness of direct flash. If you have a white umbrella to bounce it into ... it would be even better for softening the light. The heat lamp would never be enough light and would come out very red on film. Now, if you're using a digital camera, that's a different story.

11/9/2004 5:57:23 PM

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Photography Question 
Vadim Boriskevich

member since: 8/26/2004
  44 .  Shooting in a Bowling Alley
Hi, I will be photographing in a bowling alley this weekend and was wondering what film I should use and would I need flash. I don't think there will be a lot of light, so maybe ISO 400 is good? Thank you.

10/27/2004 8:16:52 AM

Hope J. Waller

member since: 10/26/2004
  Hello, I have done some photography in bowling alleys. I used ISO 200 with a flash and did very well. Hope this helps!

10/27/2004 12:20:08 PM

Vadim Boriskevich

member since: 8/26/2004
  Thanks for your response. I'll update with my results next week.

10/27/2004 12:25:59 PM

Bob Cammarata
BetterPhoto Member
cammphoto.com

member since: 7/17/2003
  You should try shooting at slower speeds with available light - to record the motion of the ball traveling toward the pins, or the actual impact as they strike the "pocket". To do this, you will need a tripod and a shutter speed of 1/30 or 1/15 second. You will also need a cooperative "model" (bowler), who can remain perfectly motionless while the shutter is open.
This look might give you a new twist to an old, familiar scene.

10/27/2004 5:41:56 PM

Kenneth R. Cavin

member since: 2/13/2004
  If you do use a flash in a bowling center, ask the management if there are any leagues going on. I used to work in a bowling center and we didn't alow flash during league play because of the distraction.
Ken C.

11/2/2004 3:11:18 PM

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Photography Question 
Jennifer Salvon
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 11/15/2003
  45 .  How to Fire as Fill Flash
I have a Canon Digital Rebel and Canon 550EX Speedlight - and I am an amateur photographer. I am frustrated with trying to learn how to get the flash to fire as fill flash (example: in the shaded woods on a cloudy day). When I am in program mode, the camera sets the shutter speed too slow for a handheld shot and the flash does not fire at all. My knowledge of lighting techniques is rather limited, and I was hoping that there would be some sort of semi-automatic way to get this flash to fire for some simple portraits in the middle of this glorious foliage. Suggestions and help is very appreciated. Thanks, Jen

10/23/2004 2:01:17 PM

Gregory LaGrange
BetterPhoto Member
gregorylagrange.org

member since: 11/11/2003
  I think you're expecting your flash to work like the pop-up flash with the mode dial set to the green box. Check the manual about whether it has flash power compensation settings.
For non-dedicated flashes, you can get good fill settings with setting a flash on auto to an aperture that's smaller numerically than the aperture that the lens is at for the picture you're going to take.
Or by using the distance scale if on manual.
The settings concerning a speedlite working with Canon cameras is usually explained in the flash manual.

10/23/2004 3:27:05 PM

Andy 
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 5/28/2002
  When a EX flash is mounted on a EOS camera (film or digital), turned on and fully charged, you should see a flash symbol when you half press the shutter release. If the sync speed is too high or other reason that the flash cannot be fired, you will see the flash symbol blinks. As long as you see the steady flash symbol, the flash should fire. If you do not see the symbol in the viewfinder when half press the shutter release, then you may have a problem. First, make sure the flash is pushed all the way in and that it is locked down tight. Also make sure the flash is fully charged (the red light on the flash is on and steady). Since you are using a 550EX for regular use, make sure the master/slave switch is in the "off" position. Another way to test is to set your camera's mode dial to "M", turn the control dial to set the shutter speed to below 1/90. Press the shutter and see if the flash fire. That's all I can think of. Hope it helps.

10/23/2004 3:38:01 PM

Doug  Elliott
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 9/18/2004
  Jennifer,
You have gotten some good advice from both Gregory and Andy.
A fill flash is two to two and one-half stops less than your exposure. Here are some other ideas. I checked on the Canon Web site about your flash. They mention that you have a three-stop control over the exposure + or -. Your camera may allow you the same. As an experiment tomorrow take an 18-percent gray card, and tripod with you to take some test photos. Use your gray card to set your exposure. Make sure you have a good histogram. Now shoot one with your flash. Then dial in a negative (-) two-stop reduction of your flash. See what the histogram tells you. Do not, let me repeat that, do not use your LED monitor. If two didn't do it, then try three. Remember, you can also change the camera's exposure.
Finally, if all else fails, use a white handkerchief over the flash head. This will cut down of the amount of light your flash is sending out. You can also use vellum which you can buy at an art or drafting store.
Hope these ideas help.
Good shooting
Doug

10/23/2004 4:14:11 PM

Tony Peckman

member since: 8/15/2001
  I've had the same frustration as you. I have a Digital Rebel and the 540 EZ flash. Since the EZ models won't work in Auto Mode with the Rebel, I set the flash to manual, the camera to manual OR shutter priority (I think the flash sync is 1/250 or slower), with an exposure for the available area.
Since the 500 series flashes have a wonderful manual adjustment from full power - 1/132 (I think), AND you have immediate viewing with digital, you can shoot, view and adjust the fill flash to your liking. As long as you keep the SAME DISTANCE and SAME EXPOSURE setting, you should have results that you like.
Good luck!!!

10/23/2004 4:17:56 PM

Jennifer Salvon
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 11/15/2003
  Thank you - I can't wait for tomorrow to check out these suggestions (but first I need to watch the Red Sox). Thanks - I may be back for more advice - I appreciate the speedy responses - Jen

10/23/2004 5:31:09 PM

Raj 

member since: 4/5/2004
  Hi,

I own a Digital Rebel too and was a little disappointed that there are no flash controls ie. fill flash, auto and slow sync that we can select. I have in a web an article by NK guy - Photonotes.org where he writes very extensively on flash photography with Canon cameras. He shares that with a full featured 550EX speedlight, you will have total manual control including the fill flash capability. Do check out. Hope it wud help.
Thanx - Raj
Amateur :)

10/26/2004 1:02:25 AM

Orlando Negron

member since: 10/6/2004
  (sorry about my english, hope you understand) I've had the same problem, then I call Canon and then tell me that the digital rebel don't syncronize whith the EX flash, only the canon 10D or higer models. I bay 10D and work perfect.

10/26/2004 8:25:06 AM

David Robinson

member since: 12/29/2002
  One must be very careful when adding flash onto the auto selected exposure on a digital camera. Digital receptors do not behave like film emulsions. It is very easy to push the exposure of the high-lights above what the receptor can record and as a consequence bleach out the detail when adding a squirt of infill flash. I suggest that you study the handbook. Look for something under 'slow synch flash' or some such heading. Good hunting.

10/27/2004 4:16:11 PM

Orlando Negron

member since: 10/6/2004
  You can try bouncing the flash like 45 degres or use a cap flash (is the little white hat) and bouncing de flash.

10/28/2004 6:22:03 AM

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Photography Question 
Mike Brookshire

member since: 7/23/2004
  46 .  Flash Photos in A Large Room
I will be taking photos this evening at a church event with my Canon 300D and will very likely be using my Canon flash. Is there a particular way I can orient the flash to get photos that don't look like they were taken with a disposable? The ceiling is approx. 10 feet and made of high white ceiling tile. I will be taking photos of people, singers and speakers ... most of them will be on the stage. I will have an 18x70 mm lens and a 70x200 mm lens at my disposal. Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

10/7/2004 10:37:51 AM

Doug  Elliott
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 9/18/2004
  Michael,
I don't think I am in time to help you with your shoot. How did it come out?
If I am ahead of the curve, I would like to suggest that you use your flash with tilted up at a 45-degree angle with a white card. A rubber band and a 5 x 7 white card works well. Use your 70 to 200. Most of your shots will be in the 120 to 150 range. If you have the time, get a friend to stand in the area where the performers will be entertaining. Shoot a few test exposures. You are striving to define an area where you will be shooting between 90 to 125 of a second at f8 to f11.
Hope this info will help.
Good Shooting
Doug

10/7/2004 6:11:20 PM

Kathy Zinn

member since: 8/1/2002
  Michael I am curious about the rubber band being used with the with card. Is this something that is used like those mini softboxes they have for flash? Thanks.

10/13/2004 12:57:14 PM

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Photography Question 
member 
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 7/18/2004
  47 .  Shooting Concert Without Flash
I have a concert performance (singers, dancers) to shoot in a few days, but they don't allow using flash. Plus, these may be used in a major music publication, so they really have to be good quality (focus and lighting). I've never shot action in low light without flash before. Any advice would be very appreciated! Thanks

9/18/2004 7:59:19 AM

member 
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 7/18/2004
  CORRECTION:

i've never shot action in low-light before W/NO FLASH.....

9/18/2004 8:01:05 AM

  Well, they're expecting the impossible, Carrie. In order to stop action in low light, you'll need to use extremely fast film, like Kodak Tmax 3200 pushed to 6400 and shooting at your lenses widest aperture, which will give you minimal depth of field. This can work for good quality reproductions if the pictures are small in their publication. If they are serious about getting good, publishable images, ask that they turn the stage light WAY up and allow you to get close to the stage and use flash. Good luck!

9/19/2004 3:35:37 AM

member 
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 7/18/2004
  Thanks, Tony! But I forgot to mention as I thought I put this Q in the digital forum ... I'm using a D70 camera. With such a high ISO, will the noise level still be acceptable for final submission? Thanks again.

9/19/2004 8:21:31 AM

  Well, now it gets a bit complicated. You can use software like Noise Ninja, Grain Surgery, or nikMultimedia's Dfine to remove noise, but it may compromise image quality. But, I have used the Fuji S2 at ISO 1600 to photograph recording sessions, and it worked fine. I also used a film body with Tmax 3200 pushed to 6400, and the film versions were the preferred "look" by the client. The digital looked too "clean" and the grainy, fast, pushed film had more "character." You may want to consider shooting some things in low light to get an idea of how the camera reacts. The D70 is quite impressive and should work well. Good luck!

9/19/2004 8:46:00 AM

Gregory LaGrange
BetterPhoto Member
gregorylagrange.org

member since: 11/11/2003
  don't see how shooting stage shows is expecting the impossible. That same major music publications has plenty all the time I'm sure.

9/19/2004 9:12:17 AM

  Merely shooting stage shows is not expecting the impossible, Gregory.

Shooting stage shows, stopping the action of dancers with good quality reproduction film/slides/digital images in low light without flash is expecting the impossible.

9/20/2004 5:29:09 PM

member 
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 7/18/2004
 
 
 
well, here's the shot @ iso 1600 setting (flashes were finally allowed). there's *alot* of grain!

my settings were: f8; 1/250-1/400 sec; manual setting; auto WB; -1/3EV flash TTL.

i closed the lens down due to too much light coming in and blowing out the pic. should I have kept the lens wide open like you said and gone for a much faster shutter speed?

9/20/2004 10:32:00 PM

member 
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 7/18/2004
 
 
 
well, here's the shot @ iso 1600 setting (flashes were finally allowed). there's *alot* of grain!

my settings were: f8; 1/250-1/400 sec; manual setting; auto WB; -1/3EV flash TTL.

i closed the lens down due to too much light coming in and blowing out the pic. should I have kept the lens wide open like you said and gone for a much faster shutter speed?

9/20/2004 10:32:14 PM

member 
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 7/18/2004
  (correction):
shot w/the D70 body.

9/20/2004 10:36:45 PM

Gregory LaGrange
BetterPhoto Member
gregorylagrange.org

member since: 11/11/2003
  Still not expecting the impossible. Not like they're requiring low iso ratings.
If it's a major publication they'll already know higher iso's are going to be used.

9/21/2004 12:20:00 AM

Derick A. Wiaderski

member since: 5/2/2003
 
 
  Depth Quartet
Depth Quartet
 
  The Slip
The Slip
 
 
I shoot low light concerts all the time, it's kind of my thing right now. I shoot with the Digital Rebal and usually have to push my iso to 1600-3200. most of the time my settings are 3200 f4.0 @ 1/30-1/60 sec. i've taken some real nice crisp shots, so it's not impossible. i've found by really getting into the proformace you can feel for those frozen moments and snap then. and take a lot of shots and shoot all manual even focus, at low light the camera has a mind of it's own.

9/21/2004 6:43:19 AM

member 
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 7/18/2004
 
 
 
wow--you've really caught the *feel* thru composition, derick. nicely done!

(yeah, I was too afraid to go any slower, for such in the pic (above)--some of the performers got pretty wild).

9/21/2004 9:45:08 AM

Sharon Morris

member since: 6/15/2004
 
 
 
Carrie, I was at a concert a few weeks ago and I found a technique that worked fairly well. I used my tripod and a remote shutter release. I also used manua1 focus and timed my shots to when the performer wasn't moving around.

I shot these at 1/13th sec and f5.Here's an example of what I got, the color tint was from the red lights on the stage. I selected this one to show what I meant about the subject needing to be still. Notice her hands...

9/22/2004 7:22:19 AM

member 
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 7/18/2004
  thanks, shari : )

i was really happy I chose to use auto WB--those lights really change quite frequently and could otherwise make skintones look a bit funky!

9/22/2004 9:19:17 AM

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Photography Question 
Niall G. Cronin

member since: 1/13/2004
  48 .  Gig Photography
Hi all.
I'm just starting out in shooting local gigs, now I've been doing it for years with a small camera using flash but now don't want to be using the flash all night in front of the bands. So far, I've picked up that I need a fast shutter speed (1/125 and above) and a high ISO film ... 800+?? Anyone got any more advice would be much appreciated, as would any advice on band/live photography! My camera is a Canon 300v, by the way. Thanks a million.

9/14/2004 1:34:42 PM

Jon Close
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 5/18/2000
  http://www.photo.net/concerts/mirarchi/concer_i

9/14/2004 3:19:43 PM

  The link that Jon sent is excellent, so I would definitely check it out indepth. But here's what I do when photographing at recording sessions, and it works well. I use Tmax 1600 pushed to 3200 or 6400. I shoot wide open or stopped 1-2 stops if possible. I use the Nikon 24-120 VR lens, which greatly increases sharpness at slow, handheld shutter speeds. If you use Canon, consider an I-S lens for the same reason. Good luck!

9/15/2004 3:21:26 PM

Andrew Hart

member since: 3/12/2004
 
 
  Johnny.
Johnny.
f2.8, 1/20, iso 100, Sigma 28-70 F2.8 , Central Club, Melbourne, Australia.
 
 
I've been shooting concerts in my area since earlier this year, most recently using a Sigma SD10. A few points to note here.

1. Lighting is a huge variable at Gigs. the Smaller gigs are lucky to have perhaps 4 spots of various colours lighting the stage, whereas your larger touring bands may actually come with their own lighting rigs. Unfortunately, Coloured lighting is something you'll just have to deal with. Yes, you can get rid of it in Photoshop, but, my own way of dealing with it is to either leave it in, or convert the picture to B&W. Most of the gigs I shoot are of the heavier rock or Metal variety, and as such, the only colours that the artists have on them are black, white, skin colour, maybe a coloured guitar. I usually take the BW root, but will still keep some colour shots as well.

2. a spot metering setting on your camera is of great worth, in order to guage the strength of the lighting. Once you've done a particular venue a few times, you'll get a handle on what settings to use on your camera. If you are gathering from this that shooting in manual is the way, yes, that's what I do. The only time I'll leave the exposure to the camera is when I use flash.

3. if you use flash, reduce your iso down to your lowest setting. If you are using existing light, you'll need at least iso 400. Higher if you want, but you must make the balance call between increased noise, and increased capability to stop movement.

4. shooting straight on to the stage is ok, but try shooting the artists from the side. Profile tends to come out better. Even behind the artists if you can, you can get some interesting silouette type shots that way.

5. How you deal with the movement of the artists given the likely low shutter speeds you'll be using is a challenge. If the artists are leaving the mics on their stands, you have a fixed focusing point here, and as such you be able to get reasonable shots out of this.

6. most gigs will use some kind of light show, where there will be slow pulsing lights. Learn how to take a shot when the light is it's brightest. It's tricky, but it can be done. Here is where DSLR's are better than the pro-sumer Digital camera's with electronic sights, as most have shutter lag problems.

7. get yourself a bright lens, probably a low order zoom of some kind (28-70), F2.8 at least. Brighter if you can. The commonly available, cheaper f4.5-5.6's just don't cut it under these kind of lighting conditions. Yes, I know this will be expensive, especially with your Canons/Nikons, Sigma lens' are somewhat cheaper.

8. Most important element of shooting at gigs: Courage. The instant you walk in with that lens around your neck, people will be looking at you.

9. Get up the front, put your game face on, & shoot. Be nice, polite, don't take risks if the mosh pit starts getting a bit on the violent side, if the guys on stage don't want you shooting, then don't. You aren't the show, they are.

10. if you are going to local bands who will commonly re-appear on a regular basis (monthly, weekly, etc), go to a few of these concerts without the camera, & just take note of how the bands sets up on stage, what the lighting is like, how eager the Security people are, etc. Making contacts with the band members is also good, so you don't freak them out when you turn up & start shooting them.

That's my 2 cents worth for the moment. Please see my example shot here.

9/21/2004 2:10:25 AM

Victor J. 

member since: 7/29/2003
  Here is another 2 cents worth. If you are doing this at the request of the band, could you not be doing the shooting during a dress rehersal or before the show starts with the crew going through the motions? Vic

9/21/2004 7:49:48 AM

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Photography Question 
Becky J. Blackburn

member since: 1/25/2004
  49 .  Senior Project: Photography!
I'm currently a senior and I'm doing my senior project on photography. I plan on putting together a scrapbook of senior pictures that I have done for my friends. But I need to somehow broaden my range of photographs. Does anyone have CHEAP - key word here - ideas that I can for indoor shots and anything other portrait type shots?

9/11/2004 6:27:04 PM

Shauna Linde
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 6/10/2004
  I hope I'm getting this right: You're looking for pictures you can take indoors that are inexpensive to put together?
One of the first portrait pictures I did for a class was using window light. For a back drop, you can use a sheet (any fabric too), shower curtain, etc. I shoot mostly black and white, so color doesn't matter too much. I usually do something with no pattern on it, though. Depending on where indoors you are shooting, see if there are any neat textured walls you can put your subject up against.
Hope this helps!

9/11/2004 10:08:35 PM

Diane Dupuis-Kallos
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 12/27/2003
  Buy 2 yards of material that you like. I'm told that stretchy velour is great because it doesn't wrinkle much. Shower curtains or sheets are also good. Set up near a window. Or go outdoors to a park and set up near (but not too near) a green leafy bush. Good luck!

9/12/2004 4:08:08 AM

Becky J. Blackburn

member since: 1/25/2004
  So do I put the sheet directly in front of a window or just near it? Thanks for the input!

9/12/2004 7:02:44 AM

Diane Dupuis-Kallos
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 12/27/2003
  It depends how much light you want in the picture and how much light is coming in the window. I usually set up next to a window that does not have direct sunlight pouring in but is bright because of the daylight. If you put the sheet in front of the window then you will have a glowing background and you'll need flash or other light for your subject.

9/12/2004 1:33:30 PM

Matt S. Raspanti

member since: 6/12/2004
  um are you only doing portrait photography if you want go to a location and take a picture at the same time every day or do closeups of crosswalks with people walking over them. If you are only focusing on portrait photography forget everything I just said

9/14/2004 8:27:04 AM

Rebecka Franklin

member since: 2/9/2004
  Some of the things that we did as a senior class was have the students lay down on the floor of the gym around the center where our logo was painted. We also created the year we graduated with student bodies. The kids taking the pictures were up in the bleachers looking down on us. We also had a lot of shots outside the school of students going to movies and hangin' out. It is fun to look back at the movie posters that we were standing in front of! We had four girls hanging upside down on the monkey bars, their hair was hanging down, but when they published it they turned the picure upside down so that their hair was going straight up. Just have fun. Your friends might have some good ideas for different shots. But be ready for those spontanious moments!

9/14/2004 8:46:20 AM

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Photography Question 
Diane Dupuis-Kallos
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 12/27/2003
  50 .  Blurry Indoor Action Shots
 
  no flash, blurry everything
no flash, blurry everything
© Diane Dupuis-Kallos
Fuji FinePix S5000...
 
  Flash on - movement captured
Flash on - movement captured
© Diane Dupuis-Kallos
Fuji FinePix S5000...
 
  Flash on - captured ok even with backlight
Flash on - captured ok even with backlight
© Diane Dupuis-Kallos
Fuji FinePix S5000...
 
  Flash on - why is there the white/blue halo?
Flash on - why is there the white/blue halo?
© Diane Dupuis-Kallos
Fuji FinePix S5000...
 
OK - need advice, please! See the indoor action shots enclosed. The lighting was bad, as usual, and unless I used the flash things were really not good if the subject was moving. Do you have any advice as to what settings to use if I cannot use the flash? I unfortunately did not have my tripod with me. And how do you take pictures with a tripod when the subject is jumping up and down on a trampoline?? Thanks in advance for your advice!

8/22/2004 7:22:30 PM

Karma Wilson
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 6/27/2004
  You can either improve the lighting with some high- powered lams or use your tripod. Carefully aim it for the mid jump "area" and use action shot mode. Then move it to top jump and bottom jump for variation. Or move the tramp outside! Somebody else might have more ideas on settings, but nothing I've tried lets me take pics of things moving in low light.

8/22/2004 8:28:37 PM

Bob Cammarata
BetterPhoto Member
cammphoto.com

member since: 7/17/2003
  Diane,
For this type of action, 1/500 sec. or faster would be best to freeze the action without flash (unless you were lucky enough to capture the trampoliners at the extreme summit of elevation, when they were motionless). Then you could get away with a much slower speed.
This would not be possible in low light without a high ISO setting. You can check the lighting by metering in manual mode to see what ISO setting will permit speeds that fast, though grain (noise) may be more prevalent. At 1/500 sec., a tripod is not necessary.
In the last photo, the halo is a result of "ghosting" ... i.e., using flash with a slow shutter speed. What happens is that the flash freezes the action but the shutter remains open a fraction of a second longer than the duration of the flash and allows subsequent movement to register.
Hope this helps.

8/23/2004 1:12:04 AM

Michael Kaplan

member since: 5/27/2003
  There are 2 things you can do:
1) You follow her ups and downs by moving your camera up and down in sync with her. This will allow you to freeze her action with a slower shutter speed and will blur the background which adds to the 'action'. This method is used when photographing car races for example. It gives you a sharp vehicle with a blurred background which adds to the feeling of speed. A bit of practice and you'll be able to get wonderfully sharp pictures.
2) You can do what I do to get movements without blur I bought a 50mm F1.8 lens and shoot at ISO 800. The wider the lens the less light is needed for exposure. By raising the ISO it also allows faster speed. The combination of both can give you all the speed boost you require. I love to shoot concerts, and in order to freeze the dancers, this is what I needed. I did not want to use flash so I would not disturb the performers and the audience, and loved the natural colors from the stage lighting.
You can also combine the 2 methods for great action shots.

Michael Kaplan
Canon EOS-10D
http://www.pbase.com/mkaplan

8/24/2004 4:50:46 AM

Colin 

member since: 9/4/2002
  Diane,
I shoot a lot of sports and thought I'd add my 2cents worth. You will need an f2.8 lens to allow more light in. You should also set your camera to T.V. mode, and set your shutter speed to at least 250th.
You should be able to get away with 400 film speed and take your shot at the top of the jump. Also get into a seated position to give your body extra stability ... that angle will also make it easier to deal with the up-down movement of jumping.
Hope it helps you.

8/25/2004 7:05:40 AM

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