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  1. #1

    Join Date
    May 2005
    La Plata, Missouri
    Large Format

    Concert Photography, First Time

    I have just obtained a photo pass to a couple of concerts to shoot one of my favorite bands from right in front of the stage. The concerts are in 3-4 days, and I live in the boonies, so I don't have a lot of developer/film options. Neither do the two towns where the concerts will be.

    The cameras I have here are:
    a Nikon F80 35mm with a weak built-in flash
    a Mamiya C220 with a bunch of lenses but with no flash, etc.

    I normally shoot Tri-X at 1600 with the Nikon for candid shots of my grandkids around the house (I use LF or ULF for everything else). I usually stand develop in Pyrocat-HD or use HC110B. However, I'm not sure 1600 is fast enough in this type of situation. In the concert of theirs I've seen previously, there was a fair bit of light onstage but all cameras were banned, so I have no idea what sort of meter reading, etc, there might have been. And I'm not sure how consistent the lighting would be for a less well-known band.

    Does anyone have any suggestions for possibilities for film given the restraint that those are the only 2 developers availalble. Obviously I can get some film sent overnight but can't afford to be shipping chemicals overnight, or trying new chemicals in a situation I cannot practice beforehand.

    Thanks for any help.
    Cheers, Richard

  2. #2
    blaze-on's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2004
    Riverside, CA
    Multi Format
    Assuming you can use flash, I would get a dedicated unit for this.
    I'm ignorant as to the F80 and options. Perhaps you coould rent a flash unit for the weekend ?
    Also a fast lens if you choose to not use flash in some instances.

    Stage lighting is deceptive as it looks bright and is constantly changing, but I've had to shoot at iso 800-3200 w/no flash at f2.8 to stop (or try) movement when I could not use flash.

    Sometimes the movement adds to the images, so maybe just shoot a fast film and not worry about covering it as a professional would, and enjoy the concert as well.
    Matt's Photo Site
    "I invent nothing, I rediscover". Auguste Rodin

  3. #3
    noblebeast's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2003
    Southern California
    Medium Format
    I did a lot of this sort of thing years ago, and would say stick with the 35mm. I pushed Tri-X to 3200 and developed in Acufine, but I bet HC110 would work out just fine. Flash usually isn't appreciated by the people on stage, and generally is banned during the performance - back stage is another story. If you are indeed right in front of the stage you will get lots of light, though it will be changing dynamically quite often - even for an opening act. Most of the stuff I did was in smallish clubs, 20 - 30 feet from the stage, and even with a slow (f/4) zoom lens I was shooting wide open at about 1/60 and got a lot of nice stuff. If you are closer to the stage you can use shorter and hopefully faster lenses. The trick is to anticipate the action/poses of the performers, and beware of microphones growing out of noses, etc...try to set up so you're a little bit to the side of the stage as opposed to dead center - slightly profile shots tend to work better, in my opinion anyway.

    Otherwise relax, don't sweat the shots you miss, and above all enjoy the show! You'll have plenty of time to worry about which shots worked and which didn't after the film is processed, and I'm sure you'll be rewarded with some "Holy crap! That looks good! Did I take that?" shots. That's the biggest kick you get out of concert photography, because the actual shooting of the event goes by so fast that by the last encore it's hard to remember what you shot during the first number.

    Latent Images Plastic Toy Cameras

    "Don't ask yourself what the world needs. Ask yourself what makes you come alive and go do that, because what the world needs is people who have come alive" - Howard Thurman

  4. #4
    blansky's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2002
    Wine country in Northern California
    To get great shots of staged events you are far better off to not use a flash. The event is I presume lit by professionals, so why screw it up with any other lighting.

    Shoot with as fast a film as you can and let their lighting do your work for you.

    I couldn't think of anything witty to say so I left this blank.

  5. #5
    cvik's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2005
    Oslo, Norway
    Multi Format
    Don't use flash! The artificial light will completly destroy the "concert feel".
    Also, beware that it often is forbidden to use flash. Sometimes, flash is allowed for the first x songs if you got a photo pass, sometimes it's not allowed at all.

    Metering when it is little available light is really not a problem, but of course you will have to compensate if you got large spotlights pointing towards you (quite common). Watch the scene, watch the light falling on the subject, then "calculate" the difference in your head. The way a scene is lit varies between genres/band/music and the size of the stage/concert (small club, concert hall?). Think about what type of band you're going to photograph and how they likely will behave on stage and what type of lighting you'll expect. (Rock,Jazz,Classical,...?)

    ISO 1600 is only neccessary if you have slow lenses. I typically use ISO 200-400 but large aperatures such as f1.4-f2 and typically shoot at speeds from 1/8-1/60. This of course depends on what band you're going to photograph and wether you want to freeze the moment or not.

    I suggest you use TriX since you're already familiar with it. If you want to experiment, shoot, in addition, one film of another type.


  6. #6
    Flotsam's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2002
    S.E. New York State
    Also, spotlights can be very bright. Carbon arcs are almost like daylight. I have seen as many concert shots ruined by over exposure than under. Remember that unless you are filling the frame with the subject, your meter is often averaging a s**tload of unlit background into your exposure. Sadly, a zillion lighting cues during a performance seem to be designed specifically to foil photographers. A good spot meter is almost essential. (or you can just shoot digital and miss the whole concert while chimping )
    That is called grain. It is supposed to be there.
    =Neal W.=

  7. #7

    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    8x10 Format
    I concur with others DO NOT use a flash. When I shot pink floyd. ( The original group) I didn't get off many shots with the big braun till the security came over and told me I had to quit using it as it was distracting Gilmor. When I souped the negs, the ones I used the flash on had a real good image of the "smoke".

  8. #8
    df cardwell's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2005
    Dearborn,Michigan & Cape Breton Island
    Multi Format
    No trouble here, Richard.

    Shoot Tri X. You have it on hand, no sense worrying.

    Order some XTOL. It will pick up the 'speed of the film', and give you a boost in the shadows. It will also give you 'softer' highlights, especially pushed, than the HC-110.

    The first trick ( if you're shooting an N80 ) is to set the film speed to 1600, use the matrix meter, and develop to 3200.

    Here is the second trick involved. When you get set up, and the opening act or whatever is starting to play, shoot a roll at 1600 as a test. Mark it, and you'll use it to nail the development time.

    When you're home, and ready to roll, cut the test roll into 4 strips. Put one on a reel, and the others in the paper safe, and soup the first for the kodak suggested time ( again, for 3200 ) Fix, wash, dry, and test. If it needs more speed, process the second strip for twice the suggested time. And so on.

    If this makes sense, and you have questions, PM me.

    XTOL and Tri X is a very reliable combination. Have fun at the show.

    Who you seeing ?

    "One of the painful things about our time is that those who feel certainty are stupid,
    and those with any imagination and understanding are filled with doubt and indecision"

    -Bertrand Russell



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