Photographing Live Bands in a Bar setting

Discussion in 'Beyond the Basics' started by fotogenik, Jan 22, 2006.

  1. fotogenik

    fotogenik TPF Noob!

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    Hey all,

    The wife and I went out Saturday night (ok yeah it lasted WAY into sunday morning) to see one of my favorite local bands. I snapped off over 200 shots of the band after talking with them and making sure they were cool with it. Told them I would send them some shots when I get through looking at and post productioning them.

    So far I am not particularly pleased with any of the shots I took. I am only basing it off of what I viewed through the lcd at the moment because the shots are still loading into the computer from the camera.

    Anyone got general advice for shooting in this type of environment? I will look for more specific information once I get a couple of shots posted for people to look at. Pretty much any time I took the camera off Automatic the shot came out blurry, or dark, or just generally screwed up of some sort. In automatic I was able to get some shots but I know they are not gonna be what I am after.

    General challenge you run into when shooting in this type of environment is low ambient light, HI back lighting from the bands light system, smoky haze throughout the bar, fast movement (they are a grunge metal band).

    Seems to me the conditions kind of contradict each other in that you need long exposure in low light situations, but you need fast exposure in fast movement situations. Shooting without a flash was completly useless since the exposure would have had to be very long indeed in order to not get a completely black picture.

    Any advice for next time would be most appreciated.

    Thanks,
     
  2. Boltthrower

    Boltthrower TPF Noob!

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    Use ISO 1600 a very fast lens maybe like a 50 prime 1.7
    I had a hard time when i shot my friends band cause i didn't want the pics to be grainy but i had to do what i had to do

    also shoot in raw cause you can bump up the exposure if needed in fotochop
     
  3. darich

    darich TPF Noob!

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    You have a digital cam so push the ISO up a few steps to increase the sensitivity. The grain isn't alwaya desirable but for band shots in a bar it can be quite attractive.
    Use as fast a lens as possible - you lenses aren't particularly fast with a maximum aperture of 3.5.
    Option is a fast prime
     
  4. fotogenik

    fotogenik TPF Noob!

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    thanks for the info so far. I will definetly give that a go on the next one I do.

    My lenses are just what I have been able to afford so far. I am currently in the market for a prime 50 lens. Maybe that will be my present to me when my taxes come in.
     
  5. duelinthedeep

    duelinthedeep TPF Noob!

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    would you use a fast film speed with 35mm also?
    what makes a lens "fast"?

    i've had problems taking some shots of bands in a bar also.
    i shoot 35mm. so, i cant really see what shot looks good or what works best. i just dont really understand how to get a good shot in those types of conditions.
    any advise?
     
  6. stingray

    stingray TPF Noob!

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    a fast lens means the opening or aperture letting the light through into your photosensitive particles, being film or digital sensor, can be opened very wide.
    the opening of the aperture is measured in f.stops. f/1.8 is a common f stop for the aforementioned "50mm prime lens". This is a fairly large opening, allowing for a lot of light to enter in in the sapce of one exposure. this is desirable for shooting in low light.

    the film sensitivity or ISO refers to how sensitive to light the film, or digital sensor is to light. a low ISO number, such as 50, or 100 is usually associated with fine grain or low noise pictures. The higher the ISO you go, the more grain/noise will be introduced to your photo. As mentioned above setting the ISO to 1600 on a digital camera will be a good idea for digital cameras shooting in this low light condition. With film, simply use 1600 or even 3200 film. The higher the faster, and usually more grainy.
     
  7. digital flower

    digital flower No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Remember the lighting in a bar is meant to be bad ;) :mrgreen:
    Can you use a tripod or monopod?

    If I am shooting a couple of pictures of a friends band I usually try and set the camera on a table or shelf. I often end up making photoshop 'images' out of them. The couple of good pictures I have gotten is when there was stage lighting. It still can be very frustrating.
    This is my friend Marty's band Wanted

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
     
  8. fotogenik

    fotogenik TPF Noob!

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    In the types of situations I am in at the moment a tripod is not particularly possible because I am not doing this as "an official photographer". I pretty much just talked to the band and asked if it was cool if I shot a lot of pictures of them and agreed to send them the images to use to promote themselves. They sed they were cool with that. So I feel a tripod would get in people's way and I would loase a lot of the candidness of the shots by having to lug the tripod around with me getting it set up before different shots.

    Will definetly be trying the higher ISO numbers in order to get something I am happier with.
     
  9. MyCameraEye

    MyCameraEye TPF Noob!

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    In general in fairly dark conditions ISO set to 400, 800, or 1600 with the shutter speed between 1/40 and 1/8000 sec. Aperture was wide open (f/2.8). I realize that is a wide range and probably does not help much but lighting is what will matter. Most of the time I'll shoot ISO 1600: 1/125 sec. f/2.8.

    Scott
     
  10. ort

    ort TPF Noob!

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    [​IMG]

    ISO in the digital age is idiotic! The CCD is "solid state." It doesn't get more sensitive just because you changed the settings. All the camera did is under expose by a few stops and the electronics pushed the exposure back up. Use exposure compesation and push it back with photoshop's camera raw. You have more control this way. As for the setting, a table makes a good camera stand. This was shot at iso 200 with the camera sitting on the table and a beer bottle under the lens. under exposed 5 stops. f3.5
     
  11. craig

    craig TPF Noob!

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    Bar room or small clubs are tough. Do you want what your eye saw? Do you want a shot of the environment? We should see the results to get a clearer picture of what you are trying to achieve.

    Personally I shoot a Nikon Coolpix 5200 in these situations. I set the ISO at 64. The flash on slow sync. The camera is small enough to hand hold at 1/15 of a second. From 8-10 feet away I can get a good balance between flash and natural light.
     
  12. Rob

    Rob TPF Noob!

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    Define good shot. If you want a picture which is colour, low grain, sharp and contrasty, then you can't use higher ISO film to keep the exposure realistic without a tripod. You also can't use flash as this highlights all the smoke and crud in the air, giving you the shot "band behind cloud of fog".

    If you don't mind grain, shoot high ISO B&W film as it's awesomely flexible. T-Max 3200 at 6400 ISO can see in the dark better than you can (through the viewfinder).

    If you do mind grain, then it's prime lens time. You'll never succeed at 100 ISO in a dark room, even with a megabucks 400 f2.8 prime because you can't hand-hold it. Your best option is to go for the best VFM lens out there -the 50 f1.8 and zoom with your feet. The shorter focal length should let you shoot adequately at hand-held speeds.

    Rob
     

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