Photographing Live Music
I recently got involved with a classical music fest here in Ottawa. Most of the photographers (actually, all of them) use digital. My question is what's the best film to use, aperture setting, do I need a tripod? I want to be able to print these shots in the darkroom and I want the blacks surrounding the performers to be as black as possible, So I want to avoid using ISO3200 or pushing 400 to 1600. Any thoughts??
Well ... I can't be of much help. Using a flash seems like your only option to stop motion if you don't want to use fast film. But others here may know another way. For what it's worth, here are some under what I imagine to be similar lighting, which I took last summer using Tmax 3200. These are scanned from the negatives, not prints ... so it's hard for me to know what's grain and what's noise.
Also, the lens I took these with wasn't the greatest.
For those who care, this is Bon Iver in Omaha. :)
If you can, use a spot meter. Often the musicians are much more brightly lit than their backdrops, etc.
Tripod if you can. This helps with using longer lenses at longer shutter speeds. With rapid hand movements and such, you might wish to find an ideal shutter speed for both freezing action as well as capturing motion if you wish. Then you can work out what type of film speed you need, based on the maximum aperture of the lens.
I've shot stage performances using a Mamiya 645, a 300mm lens, a 2X tele-extender, and Delta 3200. The 2x extender made my lens effectively an f/11 max aperture. I pushed my film to 6400 and worked with slightly thin negatives. My shutter speeds were in the 1/8s to 1/30s depending on where on the stage they were located.
After I get home today I'll look up a couple of the scans to show you what I was able to do from the back row of the auditorium.
Yeah, I might have to give in on my hopes for a lower speed film. I'd be happy with 400. I've shot indoors with that before. I plan on using a spot meter, just to get the exposure I'm looking for. I also plan on bringing a tripod. I might set the Mamiya up on a tripod for the wide shot and roam around with my Minolta that has more lenses.
Over the past 30+ years I've photographed a lot of live music and also some stage shows. Initially I usewd HP5 but once XP1 was released switched, later using XP2.
XP2 push processes extremely well in C41 chemistry and unlike HP5 or Tri-X the contrast isn't boosted. Ilford dropped the push processing recommedations when they switched from XP1 to XP2, the reason was that XP1 needed a modified C41 colour devevepment time for normal processing and commercial labs didn't like this or the push process times, XP2 was designed to be process for the normal C41 times and no mention was made of it's ability to be push processed.
Usually I pushed XP1 & XP2 to 1600 EI shooting with a Vivitar S1 70-210 f2.8/f4 zoom mostly at around 70-135max and one stop off the maximum aperture.
Just to show how XP1 push processed :D
It's amazing what C41 chemistry does to a B&W film, but the hand colouring did help :)
I shoot a lot of live music here for a living, not much of a living but it pays.
You will want 1600 min, 800 if well lit, 1/60th on an f4 or better lens, 1/30th and second curtain flash if using one. Bounce head flash will work nice, spot meter your subject and shoot manual, cameras don't know what to do in tough lighting situations like that.
Classical is one of the easiest things to shoot since it isn't Slayer or Metallica and hair and various other objects aren't being thrown about on stage, though the conductor might be a bit of a problem.
Thanks a lot for all this info. I feel a lot more comfortable with this situation now.
Can't find the neg scans currently, not sure what happened to them. Last time I did this was in 2008, and I did have one DVD backup disc fail on me before I got smarter and started backing up to external hard-drive. The files could have been on that disc. If I find the negatives I'll scan a couple and post tomorrow.
Originally Posted by Thomas Bertilsson
I missed this part on the initial read through, and was scratching my head for a bit. Haha
Originally Posted by Ian Grant
I had to do music events as well, one just a few weeks ago at a venue called Symphony Space. Color casts from stage lighting sucks, stick to B&W. ei of 1600 is where I am usually at, I like the 85-200mm range, f2.8 and faster (stopped down a stop or two), monopod or support is ideal for sharp shots.