Live music

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  • Live Music Photography(and other on stage events too)

  • EquipmentEar plugs. The cheap foam ones are very goodFast lenses and cameras with big sensors and low noise are greatBut DX sensors are useful for extending the range of long lenses (200mm equals 300mm) But you can shoot with pretty much anything

  • Get Lots of Bad PhotosGet lots of bad photos youll get more good photosAlong with sports this is the type of photography with the highest proportion of out of focus, blurred and just bad photographsIf the faces are mostly in shadow or moving too fast shoot whenever you can get a technically good photo-you can pick the best expressions laterCheck the shots on the monitor quickly but not oftenShot lots when something good is happening

  • One of My Bad Photos

  • Lighting is Very ImportantThe amount varies from plenty to not nearly enough.Generally the bigger the venue the more the lightHeavily filtered light (all one deep colour) is generally too low to get a good photoCompose with the highlights and bright midtonesRemember separationThe shadows are usually too dark to count on getting much detail

  • And the Speed of the BandSome bands move fast almost all the time,And some hardly at all.Fast bands need high shutter speedsWith little depth of field it is hard to follow focusTake lots of picturesoh, I already said that

  • When the Lights are LowIf the light is low wait for them to stop or slowFocus shoot, focus shoot,repeatThere is no depth of field

  • Who do we photographMostly the lead singers Try shots from near the centre- youll be low, so the angles will be toughFrom the side youll get more flattering angles on singers, but theyll mostly be in profilePhotograph rappers from the palm side of the microphone hand

  • Some HintsEarplugsAll things being equal photograph from the guitar body side (stage right)If its crowded work your way along the side (saying Excuse me please)and then in towards the stage right along the speakersBalance getting the shot with being a jerkIf youre getting paid be a jerk if you really have toGauge the atmosphere. With some bands you can do whatever you want

  • More HintsTry a few different positionsIf they do something good be ready for them to do it again

  • Tight Head ShotsLook for good expression, face not blocked by the microphone, no bad shadow on face the from microphoneIf the face is mostly blocked shoot whenever its clear

  • Wait for the Singer to Back off the Microphone

  • Photograph rappers from the palm side of the microphone hand

  • Lots of noise, bad colour but a good photo

  • Direct Flash Worked in the 70s

  • Playing InstrumentsGuitarist on knees. Shoot from their head level or a little lowerGuitarist writhing on stage-hard to get a good shot but try and get close and aboveDrummers-facial expression and drumsticks hitting or coming downKeyboards-really the hands and head need to be close to the keyboard but that doesnt happened muchBass-photograph pretty much every recognizable expression

  • Two Heads are Better Than OneTwo band members interactingYou probably cant get them both in focusFocus on the one facing youIf they are both equally facing focus in the most dynamic one

  • The Whole BandHard to get let alone make goodPosition yourself to get the drummer in the shotUsually near the centre standing upA wide lens will give a more dynamic shot but make the drummer small

  • The Whole Band(easier if theres no keyboards)

  • FlashFlash usually not allowed in big venuesUse the least amount of light possibleFlash bounced from ceiling generally doesnt look good(kills the stage lighting)Direct flash is betterYou can sometimes get a great shot with flash and a long exposureBouncing off a side wall can work

  • Bounced Flash

  • Back light face in darknessLens wide openShutter speed not too slow-1/30 or faster-unless the light is too lowAdjust ISO if necessaryJust enough flash to light faceWhite balance for face (warm lights are better than blue faces but you can adjust this if you shoot RAW)Also could filter flash to tungsten light balance

  • Fill Flash