Night club/gig shots? No meter.

Discussion in 'Exposure Discussion' started by mcgrattan, Mar 30, 2006.

  1. mcgrattan

    mcgrattan Member

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    Hi,

    I am planning to shoot some black and white negs at a gig I am playing at this weekend. I was planning to take my Fed-4 rangefinder and 50mm and 85mm lenses.

    I won't have a working meter at the gig (the selenium meter won't read light levels that low) and I wondered what a good rule of thumb was for exposure using say 1600 ASA or 3200 ASA film?

    1/60 @ f2.8 or f3.5 - perhaps 1/125?

    I presume the exposure latitude would cover 1 stop over or under exposure?

    The lighting will be general ambient pub lighting plus some coloured overhead spots -- nothing particularly bright but probably a little brighter than the archetypal 'smoky jazz club'.

    I could bring my EOS650 with me and spot meter off people's faces but I'd rather not carry two heavy cameras to the pub and I'm happier focusing the rangefinder in low light.

    Any tips? I will be carrying a small GN14 flash with me but I'd rather not use it.

    thanks,

    Matt
     
  2. rbarker

    rbarker Member

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    It may be different in the UK, but over here, there are no standards for "ambient pub lighting" which the bars are compelled to follow. :wink:

    Thus, you might try to borrow a meter and take a few readings before things get started. Go for the highlights and let the shadows fall where they may.
     
  3. 127

    127 Member

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    If it's typical pub lighting then you're pretty much looking at wide open, as fast film as you can get, for as slow as you think you can hand hold it - then dev and see what comes out.

    On the other hand our local decent music venue will support f/4 1/125 iso 1600 no problem, but they have a full lighting rig. Other places are f/1.8 3200 1/4 or worse.

    1600/3200 film (I presume you mean delta3200 here...) isn't as great as it sounds. Remember it's only actually about 800, and the rest is push. Push -> contrast, and you'll already have way to much contrast to handle. Most "real" bw I've seen has been VERY contrasty - generally the c41 bw's (Kodak Portra 400) for example to much better at taiming the contrast, and producing usefull prints.

    Avoid flash - it just pisses everyone off. I almost started a fight at a recent gig where a (digital!) photographer was using flash and A TRIPOD!!! The jerk decided to bounce his flash off the ceiling, then turned the camera on its side and REPEATEDLY set is flash off straight into my face... I've since aquired a slave flash trigger for dealing with such people - once he figures out why all his exposures are wrong he'll have a flash in his face every time he takes a shot.

    In a dark pub you're really going to be stuck with your 50mm prime - f/1.8 or better really. Put that with 400 chroma film at say 1/60th and hope...

    expect to burn film and get one or two shots.

    Ian
     
  4. Ian Grant

    Ian Grant Subscriber

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    As I've shot a lot under these conditions I'd suggest push processing Ilford XP-2, as you'll get far finer grain & better tonality, and also you'll also have more latitude.

    Last pub gig I shot was in October and I got away with 1600 ISO f2.8 30th sec, quite poor lighting

    Ian
     
  5. willie_901

    willie_901 Member

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    Here's Some EV Data

    Hi,

    You can expect to find an EV of 3-6 (dim to bright interior lighting). This means for the 50 mm you're looking at 1/60 sec. and f 1.8 (EV 3) to f 4.0 (EV 6) with ISO 1600. Since you are playing at the gig I assume you can get close, so the 50 mm will serve you well. This is good because you might need 1/125 sec for the 85mm lens and the DOF with this lens will be even worse.

    You may be able to get away with ISO 800 if the EV is > 3. The overhead spots may create EVs up to 6, but you can't be sure the people you want to capture will be under the spots.

    You might think a bit about how you will use the DOFs you will face in this light.

    I enjoy shooting in these conditions and if you're lucky you can arrange for the musicians to be under the spot lights.

    willie
     
  6. df cardwell

    df cardwell Subscriber

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    Pick a long straight line film ( TMY or D 400 ) and shoot wide open at a 1/15.

    Develop in Xtol, rated normally.
     
  7. mcgrattan

    mcgrattan Member

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    I've decided I'll take my EOS 650 and do some partial metering off people's faces. The gig is over two nights so I can take the EOS on the night I'm not playing and get a guide to exposure and then take the Fed-4 and the lsm mount lenses the next night and go with the same exposures. The lighting will be the same both nights.

    I'll have Neopan 400, Neopan 1600, Tri-X, Delta 3200 and TMZ 3200 to hand -- I have them in my fridge already -- anyone got a recommendation for the best film to use? I'll be processing it myself so can push it if need be. I don't mind contrasty -- slightly grainy, high contrast shots will be OK if they are well exposed for people's faces and in focus. I can get as close as I like.

    I like chromogenic film - XP2, etc. - but I doubt I'll have a chance to pick any up before the weekend.

    I'm planning to use the rangefinder for the 'keeper' shots mostly because I can focus it in very low light and I know, from past experience, that the rangefinder is properly aligned so it focuses accurately. The EOS will have manual lenses on it (a fast-ish 50mm f1.7 probably) but it's not that easy to focus in very low light.

    Advice very useful, thanks!
     
  8. df cardwell

    df cardwell Subscriber

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    Think about this.

    Pushing film means underexposing the shadows,
    then overdeveloping the highlights to try make up for it.

    ( where there is little light, give little exposure.
    where there is much contrast, give much development )

    Doesn't sound promising like that, does it ?

    In low, flat light, it works.
    In contrasty light, it never works,
    because it simply amplifies the problems of low, contrasty light.

    In contrasty light, you have two options:

    1. Expose fully, so the shadows have some information. Then you reduce the development to keep the highlights from becoming too bright.

    2. Expose fully, and use a long scale film to record all the nuances. This is always the correct choice when shooting in nightclubs and on stage.

    Exposing for the bright areas, like the faces, is usually an error in this circumstance. Why ? Because without reading ALL the light levels, you don't know where the faces belong. The shadows are deeper than normal, the highlights are brighter. That is why you are shooting there in the first place.

    If you expose for the shadows, and let everything else fall where it will, you are letting the film do what it was designed to do. Some films can do this, some cannot. Normal development gives you the best chance of a printable negative.

    Now, if you simply expose for the maximum POSSIBLE exposure, you will record enough shadow information to act like the bass line. You will et the highlights, the melody, go where they will. You'll harmonize it when you print it.

    By making one exposure, and being consistent throught the club, the film will print easily. This is like rolling tape and letting the band play.

    Here is the book on the films you have: Using XTOL 1+1, rate the films normally ( look at the Xtol chart at the Kodak site ). Use any of them except Neopan 1600, this gig is not it's scene.

    TMZ in XTOL 1+1 for 14 minutes at 21c ( the equivalent of EI 1600 ) is probably your best choice. In XTOL it will hold about 14 stops of information. Pushing it higher, it will hold less.

    Here is a shot in a dim cafe, made at 1/15 @ f/1.4 with 400 film. That exposure works well in most stygian settings. If you can shoot at f/2, use 800, f/2.8 you need 1600.
     
  9. Roger Krueger

    Roger Krueger Member

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    I wouldn't waste a night on the EOS if that's not your keeper camera. Stage lighting is notorious for badly fooling even good meters. Just take the Fed and shoot. Keeping notes is tough in a situation like this, maybe have a plan for your shots--Twelve 1/125 f2.8, twelve 1/60 f2, twelve 1/30 wide open. Perhaps repeat on a different film. Develop before the next night, and examine carefully for both exposure AND blur (the 1/30 set will look the best at a cursory glance, but if they're not sharp the nice shadows are useless). This will give you far more certainty of what'll actually work than some meter readings. Try printing some if possible--you'd be amazed what you can sometimes pull out of a way-too-thin-looking neg.

    I'd try TMZ as my first choice, TMY as a second roll if things are looking bright. Delta 3200 and 400 about as good, but more sensitive to development issues.
    Actually you're trying to overdevelop the midtones and keep the highlights from running away. Which is why you really want a compensating developer for something like this--my fave is X-TOL 1:1, 68F, 35 minutes stand development, initial agitation only, push +1 to +3. (TMY/TMZ are O.K. hotter/shorter, but Delta 3200 loses shadow info into fog above 68F), Microphen at listed times/normal agitation works well too, a tiny bit worse on grain and sharpness, but even better highlight control. The nice thing about using compensating development is that it gives you a lot more exposure latitude too.
    A lot more promising than losing all your shots to motion blur and/or focus error.
    1. and 2. are both nice when you have enough light. But sometimes you don't. Fully exposed with motion blur is a lot worse than losing some shadow detail to a push. And, to me, it loses that dank, dark club feel without some solid black shadows.
    Again, a nice thought, but if exposing for the shadows gives 1/15 wide open on a moving subject it's time to look elsewhere
    It gives you the least chance if it can't get you to a useable shutterspeed and aperture.
    Yeah, except they're standing still, and you probably are too. And I suppose that might be the case here--we don't know what kind of music is involved. But if it's rock, both performer movement and crowd jostling will make anything under 1/60 useless.
     
  10. df cardwell

    df cardwell Subscriber

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    About 90 % agreement with Robert. Probably 99% after I finish this cup of coffee.

    Back in the '60s, I had a mentor who showed me how he had shot clubs and circus in the '30s: it's a little easier today with film faster than 32, but the problem remains.

    One more technique: the test roll. When you do the sound check, or as the first roll of the night, shoot a roll at a single exposure ... at whatever setting you think is right. Use that setting all night. Develop a strip of the test roll, and see how it prints. Make whatever adjustments you can to develop the remaining strips ot the test roll. Then develop the night's shoot.

    Have fun.... show us the pictures !

    d
     
  11. mcgrattan

    mcgrattan Member

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    Thanks for all the good advice. I ended up shooting two rolls, one in the EOS (Delta 3200) and one in the Fed (TMZ). The latter roll, I bracketed about half the exposures so I'm optimistic that I'll get at least a few useable shots.

    The 'EOS' roll I tried partial metering off faces and also just letting the meter do its thing, so I'll see -- as it happened, the 'stage' lighting was fairly dim but the ambient lighting not as dark as I thought so the lighting was less contrasty than I feared and less likely to fool the meter (I hope).

    I'm going to develop tonight in DD-X (I think) and will hopefully be able to scan tomorrow.
     
  12. df cardwell

    df cardwell Subscriber

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    Keep us posted ! The DD-X is a good choice.

    don
     
  13. Ara Ghajanian

    Ara Ghajanian Member

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    This is a great topic that I hope we can keep going in order to get some good tips collectively. I do a lot of club and ambient light shooting, but have not developed a technique other than using the camera's 80/20 center weighted metering. I agree, the camera meter is not very reliable because of the hot lights. The last concert I shot (see link below) I had a lot of white faces and dark backgrounds. It definitely gave the shots a nice mood and the band loved them, but for a perfectionist like myself, they were only adequate. I shot both Delta 3200 and TMZ and developed both in TMAX developer at the times recommended by the Digital Truth charts. Like I said, they were adequate, but I'm striving for more shadow and midtone detail. Am I correct to assume that XTOL is the way to go with these films? I've been wanting to try it for a while and maybe now is my chance. Can anyone give me a little critique on the photos I have in the link below? Would the stand development technique as suggested by Roger Krueger help?
    Ara

    http://www.lichtaffen.com/cobramatics032406
     
  14. mcgrattan

    mcgrattan Member

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    So, I developed the films and scanned 'em. I think I like the look of the P3200 more than the Delta 3200.

    Almost every shot came out on both films and nothing was drastically under or over-exposed. With the Fed I just went with between f2 @ 1/60 at the fastest end and f2.8 @ 1/125 at the slowest and I seem to have been lucky.

    Some of the negatives scanned a bit flat so needed a slight contrast tweak.

    Here's a few shots.
     

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  15. mcgrattan

    mcgrattan Member

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  16. df cardwell

    df cardwell Subscriber

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    Looks great matt

    cool


    don
     
  17. mcgrattan

    mcgrattan Member

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  18. Nancy Giroux

    Nancy Giroux Member

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    What was the name of the film that gave you the best results? And, did you rate the film any different than box speed. Your photos looked really good. Just last week I shot some nightclub stuff under horrible lighting with a Nikon D2X and a 70-300 2.8 lens. The good thing is I could make adjustments for exposure the bad part is that I hate digital noise. I have the opportunity to shoot in night clubs often because my sis in law is a singer/songwriter. I would love to master B&W film for this work. Great topic!
    Thanks
    Nancy
     
  19. mcgrattan

    mcgrattan Member

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    Hi Nancy. It's hard to say which one gave me the best results.

    The Ilford Delta 3200 had better contrast and was a little sharper than the Kodak T-Max P3200. The Kodak had a more 'subtle' tonal range but was a little flatter.

    All three of the pictures attached to the message above are from the Kodak film -- the second of the two flickr galleries is with the Delta 3200.

    I'd use either one again.

    I haven't tried printing from either film yet -- I'm in the process of setting up a temporary home darkroom -- but I ought to be able to do so later this week and will get a sense for which is easier to print.

    Both films were rated at 1600 ASA but developed using the standard times in Ilford DD-X for 3200 ASA. Helpful advice I'd read elsewhere on this site suggested rating both films at 1600 but processing for 3200 and that seemed to work well.

    In the case of the Kodak 3200 film, I didn't really rate it at 1600 -- rather I just opened the camera lens wide and shot at 1/60 most of the time. However, I think, given the lighting conditions that was roughly approximate to rating it at 1600.

    Matt
     
  20. Nancy Giroux

    Nancy Giroux Member

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    Matt
    Thanks for the informative explanation! I'm gonna pick up some film for the show this Friday night and see what I get. I'll be shooting with Nikon N90s. I'll bring along the big lens and a 50mm 1.4. Wish me luck!
    Nancy