Photographing Concerts and Shows

Cameras, lenses, conditions and even music has changed. Shooting concerts was always a challenge. It has become an even bigger challenge today. Metal detectors, searches and venues are all there to protect the public and the performers. While I hate the hassle protection is a must. Years ago most places when you bought a ticket said no cameras or at least no flash photography. The first thing I will say is NO FLASH PHOTOGRAPHY!!! I will show a few shots in this installment of this article to give readers a taste of what can be accomplished, old school and modern!

The Past:

In the past film was the only thing available.  Knowing it’s characteristics and it’s limitations was a must.  Cameras of the day were also much more simpler.  Becoming a great concert photographer came about by knowing your camera, film  and ability to read the light on stage.  Most rookies start out by trying to use some kind of automatic mode.  The darkness around the stage will fool the metering system of the camera and cause improper exposure.  The technique of shooting for the highlights is aplied to concert photography.  A balancing act of hot spots and movement speed determines the needed exposure.  The more an act moves about the faster the shutter speed required.  The softer the highlights the more the aperture needs to be open.  I hear well boost the ISO!  When that happens the shot will get grainy on film and have noise if shot digitally. What does it all mean?  You can not rely on high ISO’s.  The lower the ISO the less problems you will and all the less noise will be noticable in the dark area.

All of the following shots were made using a manual Olympus OM-1n camera with shutter speed of 1/60th to 1/125th of a second with a 200mm prime lens set at f5.6.  The film was Kodak Tri-X or Ilford HP-5 ISO 400 shot at normal speed.