Advice needed

Discussion in 'Beyond the Basics' started by killcrazy, May 28, 2007.

  1. killcrazy

    killcrazy TPF Noob!

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    Right, I've been into photography for a while now, and have a general understanding of most of the concepts involved in digital photography.

    what im having trouble with is low level light photography.

    I shoot bands quite alot, and as you might guess pubs and concert halls dont have the best lighting...
    So what i thought was Fast shutter speed (maybe 1/250 to 1/1250)
    and i large apeture size, coupled with a high iso setting like 800 or something.

    Thing is, when i take the photos, they come out totally black, iv spent hours playing about with settings, using every combination of shutter speed, apature size, ISO, everything. even contemplated voodoo. but couldnt find a witch doctor, so i gave that a miss..

    anywhoo, the point is, what am i doing wrong? Iv had to resort to using my flash for 99% of my shots, and in the most part the bands love the shots i take, but id like it if i could take some without the flash to get the stage lighting in etc.
    and obviously, cos its a gig, and im moving around alot, a tripod, and most of hte time even a monopod is out of the question. Especially since its action stuff so a slow shutter woiuld be pointless anyway.

    so people, any ideas on how i could get this to work? and before anyone says anything... yes. iv taken the lense cap off.

    current set up:
    Sony Alpha 100
    18-70mm lens,
    75-300mm lens
    HVL-F36AM flash
    manfrotto tripod and head obviously not for band stuff 90% of the time)
     
  2. Big Mike

    Big Mike I am Big, I am Mike Staff Member Supporting Member

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    First thing, I suggest getting a very fast lens. Something with a maximum aperture of F1.8 or bigger (F1.4 etc). This will allow you to get more light which lets you use a faster shutter speed.

    When you want to shoot in these very low light situations, use your maximum aperture and see what shutter speed the meter is giving you. Maybe try some test shots. If the shutter speed isn't fast enough...then turn up the ISO. The trade off for high ISO is digital noise...but that's what you get.

    Even at a very high ISO and a wide aperture like F1.8...you may not be able to freeze action...so you just have to do what you can. A lot of times, a bit of motion blur adds to the image of a band...as long as you get something sharp. This is where a support (tripod, monopod) would be good...so that you could at least get rid of the blur from camera shake...just leaving the blur from subject movement. As you said, that's not very easy in a crowded bar. Try different ways to support your camera when you shoot...lean up against a wall or something...place the camera on a table or bar or against a wall etc...anything to keep it still while shooting.

    Another option for cool shots might be to use remote flash...you could mount a flash somewhere and remotely trigger it with your camera (with Pocket Wizards or something similar).
     
  3. ksmattfish

    ksmattfish Now 100% DC - not as cool as I once was, but still

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    I think you want large aperture (smaller f/#), high ISO, and slow shutter speeds. As Mike said, slower shutter speeds can cause blur due to movement at the camera or at the subject, but that's probably better than "totally black".
     
  4. JIP

    JIP No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    I think a good start would be to read your meter. If you like to use manual mode that's fine but you still have to give your sensor enough light to make an image. If your images are coming up black obviously they are extremely under-exposed and the meter on your camera would have definately told you that before you shot. Other than that I agree with all that has alredy been said about fast lenses and slower shutter speeds.
     
  5. luckyskater820

    luckyskater820 TPF Noob!

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    I'd agree slow shutter speeds and maybe a rear curtain flash.
     
  6. Mike_E

    Mike_E No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Do you have permission to use flash? A slow shutter, large aperture, largish ISO to register your background and then use the flash on your subject is called dragging the shutter. This technique will freeze the action in your subject and still show the background. The flash goes off at between 1/6000 to 1/10000 of a second (somewhere around there) and as the subject being lit is much brighter than otherwise, it will cover up the darker image that gets registered during the little bit of time in the rest of the exposure.

    You want the background about 2 stops darker than your subject. If your subject is moving around very fast you may need to go even darker because the subject will be moving outside the boundaries defined by the flash with too slow a shutter speed.

    Good luck

    mike
     
  7. killcrazy

    killcrazy TPF Noob!

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    thanks for the advice people :)

    I usually am allowed to use a flash, and my photos are turning out great WITH the flash, but its at the gigs where i dont have permission to use a flash that prompted this question.
    Unfortunatly, i dont have another £300-400 to spend on a much faster lense :(
    so i have to make do with the one i have.the 18-70mm lense goes down to f3.5 but thats the max.

    I thought that a longer shutter speed would make my images too blurry, seen as bands (especially the ones i photograph) are generally quite fast moving.

    But seen as thats the general consensis (sp?) then i'll give that a try and get back to you and tell you how im doing :)

    thanks people
     
  8. Digital Matt

    Digital Matt alter ego: Analog Matt

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    A 50mm f/1.8 should be very affordable for you, and will help you in this area.
     
  9. JIP

    JIP No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    there is a point where you can slow the shutter speeds down and still not be blurry. You may get down to 1/60 or even 1/30th and not get blur you need to experiment with the right shutte speed and aperture combinations to see what works for you and as I said before read your meter.
     
  10. Fiendish Astronaut

    Fiendish Astronaut TPF Noob!

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    Set your camera to AV mode, whack open the aperture as wide as possible, high an ISO as you can get. That'll give you some shots without a flash unless you have a very very slow lens. After you get a few good shots try a smaller ISO.

    And shoot in RAW if you can so you can alter the exposure later if your still not getting enough light!
     
  11. Sorry, this may be obvious - but when you say larger aperture size you're not setting it to f/16 or f/22, right? But rather f/2.8 or something like that. The higher the number, the smaller the aperture opening.
     
  12. killcrazy

    killcrazy TPF Noob!

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    my lenses only go down to f3.5, but htats what iv been shooting at.
     

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