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Thread: The Funk Band

  1. #1
    Shadowman's Avatar
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    The Funk Band

    f/4, 1/80s, ISO400, exp bias +5, 55mm using Nikkor 55-200mm lens

    Even with a fast lens it is almost impossible to get a good low light shot when movement is involved.

    The Funk Band


    Performance Artist
    f/4.6, 1/640s, ISO 1600, exp bias +4, 102mm

    The Funk Band
    Last edited by Shadowman; 16th September 2012 at 01:17 PM.

  2. #2
    Moderator Donald's Avatar
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    Re: The Funk Band

    Quote Originally Posted by Shadowman View Post
    Even with a fast lens it is almost impossible to get a good low light shot when movement is involved.
    I take your point, John. You can indeed see where there were people who were obviously moving more energetically than others. But, that being said, something like this needs energy and I'm not sure that it's all bad that there is some sense of movement in soem parts of the image. I suppose it's about getting the shots in which the important bits(people) are sharp.

    I do like that second one. Okay, there is nothing in it to tell us we are at a music event, but it's still and engaging portrait.

  3. #3
    Shadowman's Avatar
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    Re: The Funk Band

    Quote Originally Posted by Donald View Post
    I take your point, John. You can indeed see where there were people who were obviously moving more energetically than others. But, that being said, something like this needs energy and I'm not sure that it's all bad that there is some sense of movement in soem parts of the image. I suppose it's about getting the shots in which the important bits(people) are sharp.

    I do like that second one. Okay, there is nothing in it to tell us we are at a music event, but it's still and engaging portrait.
    Donald,

    I tried my best to center the focus indicators on a particular subject, on the first photo it was on the face of singer to the left.

    The second photo was part of a human art installation. I have more similar to that where models posed in costumes made from art works.

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    Shadowman's Avatar
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    Re: The Funk Band

    Two more from the set.

    The Funk Band

    The Funk Band

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    Loose Canon's Avatar
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    Re: The Funk Band

    I hear you knockiní John!

    I have a little thing Iím doing at a particular venue (read: local tavern) shooting live bands.

    The lighting is horrific photographically speaking. The background, while not totally unusable, is not too great and they set up in a corner so my POV access is limited. Iím just not able to get a good ambient shoot with any consistency. Iím pretty much left to provide some lighting to get anything anywhere near acceptable (at least to me).

    But Iím in agreement with Donald as far as some motion blur is concerned. I like to shoot relatively tight and need to have at the least the eye/face as sharp as possible. With that approach I find I can get a little closer to what I am looking for and whatever other motion I consider a bonus. Iím even playing around with somewhat slower shutters. Sometimes a hard balance to achieve in bad light between the important stuff sharp and some motion.

    But these are nice, John. Especially well done under the conditions in which you were shooting.

  6. #6
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    Re: The Funk Band

    Bands can be very hard to shoot. I like the simplicity of the second photograph.

    A little bit puzzled by the camera settings. I just checked some photographs I took at a folk music club with low lighting and at ISO640 and f5 all the shots were under 1/30sec. Had to ignore heaps because of movement but it was the fastest I could shoot at without using flash. On my camera +5 exposure compensation would over expose and blow out the highlights.

    I find that converting the photographs to B&W can often give a better result as it eliminates the lighting destroying the skin tones.

    Did you shoot RAW and have you applied any post processing?

  7. #7
    Shadowman's Avatar
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    Re: The Funk Band

    Quote Originally Posted by Loose Canon View Post
    I hear you knockin’ John!

    I have a little thing I’m doing at a particular venue (read: local tavern) shooting live bands.

    The lighting is horrific photographically speaking. The background, while not totally unusable, is not too great and they set up in a corner so my POV access is limited. I’m just not able to get a good ambient shoot with any consistency. I’m pretty much left to provide some lighting to get anything anywhere near acceptable (at least to me).

    But I’m in agreement with Donald as far as some motion blur is concerned. I like to shoot relatively tight and need to have at the least the eye/face as sharp as possible. With that approach I find I can get a little closer to what I am looking for and whatever other motion I consider a bonus. I’m even playing around with somewhat slower shutters. Sometimes a hard balance to achieve in bad light between the important stuff sharp and some motion.

    But these are nice, John. Especially well done under the conditions in which you were shooting.
    Thanks for the comments Terry. I go into these shooting situations with a bit of fore knowledge, such as "ok, I need to shoot at least 1/250s to capture a moving subject, I need to shoot at least at this speed when handholding, this aperture for ..." And then everything becomes a free for all, with only a limited amount of time to adjust. Hopefully you will have more than one evening to take on your challenge. Good luck and have fun.

  8. #8
    Shadowman's Avatar
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    Re: The Funk Band

    Quote Originally Posted by pnodrog View Post
    Bands can be very hard to shoot. I like the simplicity of the second photograph.

    A little bit puzzled by the camera settings. I just checked some photographs I took at a folk music club with low lighting and at ISO640 and f5 all the shots were under 1/30sec. Had to ignore heaps because of movement but it was the fastest I could shoot at without using flash. On my camera +5 exposure compensation would over expose and blow out the highlights.

    I find that converting the photographs to B&W can often give a better result as it eliminates the lighting destroying the skin tones.

    Did you shoot RAW and have you applied any post processing?
    Hi Paul,

    Yes, I did shoot in RAW and the first two and last image was heavily post processed. I'll just describe the processing for the first where I know I made a mistake exposing the background too much.

    1. Converted to tiff, increased exposure in capture raw, saved.
    2. Used NeatImage to reduce noise, saved.
    3. Reopened in PSE8, sharpened with FocusMagic filter (50% setting).
    4. Adjusted levels through New Adj Layer.
    5. Adjusted brightness using Screen filter.
    6. Final sharpening using high pass filter.

  9. #9
    Shadowman's Avatar
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    Re: The Funk Band

    Quote Originally Posted by Loose Canon View Post
    I hear you knockin’ John!

    I have a little thing I’m doing at a particular venue (read: local tavern) shooting live bands.

    The lighting is horrific photographically speaking. The background, while not totally unusable, is not too great and they set up in a corner so my POV access is limited. I’m just not able to get a good ambient shoot with any consistency. I’m pretty much left to provide some lighting to get anything anywhere near acceptable (at least to me).
    Hi again Terry,

    I was reading one of Joe McNally's guides, they're all good, and he recommended using a bit of bounce flash off the ceiling. I wouldn't distract the audience or performers, but might accentuate the background.

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    Re: The Funk Band

    A few more from the Music is Art Festival. These models were incased in paper mache dresses.

    Amazon
    The Funk Band
    The Funk Band
    The Funk Band

  11. #11
    John Morton's Avatar
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    Re: The Funk Band

    Photographing bands that are playing in small venues is probably one of hte most demanding tasks any photographer can face.

    That being said, I NEVER use a flash to do that and I never have because the musicians and the crowd are not there for the benefit of any photographer in the crowd; and often, they become REALLY annoyed when they have a flash going off in their faces.

    Don't forget, they are under bright lights on stage, looking out into a very dark venue; so the burst of light from a flash is simply blinding to them and can disrupt their playing: which is what they are there to do, as professionals, so using a flash is incredibly invasive to them.

    I've seen Robert Fripp stop in the middle of a show with his band "King Crimson" over the use of a flash by an audience member. Robert also makes the point that actively 'watching' a band is disruptive to the process of actively 'listening' to the music; and he is absolutely right. I've noticed that I am not really 'listening' to a performance when I am concentrating upon watching for photo opportunities.

    That being said, I have taking photos at concerts for quite some time. Initially, I used black and white film exclusively: Ilford HP5 (400 ASA), which I push processed to 6400 ASA. Some of my (hand held) results over the years...

    Ornette Coleman, 1984, Toronto Ontario Canada:

    The Funk Band

    Daevid Allen, on a solo tour, 1991, Vancouver British Columbia Canada:

    The Funk Band

    Richard Pinhas, 2007, Montreal Quebec Canada (135mm lens, cable release, tripod used here):

    The Funk Band

    I only started shooting musicians in color after switching to digital and Nikon D700, which is very well suited to low light photography. Now, I tend to use a very fast prime lens when I can move around at will (a 50 mm f/1.4) and set my camera to shutter priority so that I can concentrate upon getting the shots framed without worrying about blur from too slow a shutter speed too much. I'll shoot with a high ISO (3200; 1600 if I can get away with it; 6400 if I have to) and a shutter speed of anywhere from 1/45th of a second to maybe 1/125th of a second. I don't worry about the aperture; but I'll often use exposure compensation of minus 2 or 3 EV units to compensate for the bright spot lights on the musicians (which should provide more than adequate light for photography, regardless of what the camera's light meter says).

    Since light spreads out geometrically from a source, being closer to the stage is always better. Halving the distance between you and the stage will increase the light available to you by 4X; that's why I like to use a a fast 50mm prime lens when possible (and no flash). Photographing from a distance with a telephoto or zoom not only gives you a smaller maximum aperture, it also drastically cuts the amount of light reaching you to begin with.

    I always check each of my first round of images on the camera's LCD in a magnified view to see exactly what I am getting; that's the only way to gauge what ISO and shutter speed you can expect to get away with using. After I set those, I still periodically check to make sure things are going as I am expecting them to turn out.

    Some small venue examples...

    Small bar, horrible lighting; hand held using the 50 mm lens:

    The Funk Band

    It often helps to watch for situations where the background lighting accentuates an individual musician:

    The Funk Band

    ...but sometimes you just have to go with what is available, and that can work out well, too:

    The Funk Band

    I do like to use a lower shutter speed to try and catch a bit of motion blur in the musicians' hands; often, 1/45th of a second to 1/15th of a second will catch that without blurring their faces. In this example, I am using a 105 mm f2.8 lens on a small tripod (with cable release) that I picked up to use on table tops in small bars:

    The Funk Band

    For me, though, the key here is to make sure that the musicians are not bothered by what I am doing; so that means, no flash and, whenever possible talking to them before the show to let them know you are there with a camera and will give them some photos from what you are doing. After all, if I am going to be right up at the stage because I am using a 50mm lens, they are sure to notice me anyway.

    Telling them that you are just trying out new equipment or experimenting with new techniques helps, because then they feel that they are helping you out by letting you take photos as much as you are helping them by supplying them with some high quality images. Letting them know that you are 'experimenting' with flashless concert photography can go a long way toward gaining their consent, and also it also gives you an excuse to fall back on if things don' work out as hoped ;-)

    Most importantly, I always make a point of getting individual photos of each band member as they are playing; and to do this, I concentrate on cycling through the band members as I am shooting: "now I'll photograph the singer; now the guitarist; now the bass player; now the drummer": and I'll stay with each member until I am reasonably sure I have a good image before moving on to another member (with suitable exceptions made for solos).

    Remember, all of those band members are really good friends so even if the crowd likes the singer or the guitarist most, it is really important to include the drummer (who is usually the most difficult subject, being the farthest away at the back and often the most poorly lit) because the band might not have any really good action shots of their drummer and they might appreciate your photographic efforts there the most.

    One more thing: small bands will often be selling copies of their CD where they are playing, and it is not unusual for them to offer you a free copy when you are talking to them after the show. I personally ALWAYS make a point of actually purchasing a copy of their CD, and I'll tell you why.

    Years ago, I worked as a shipper receiver for a chain of music stores that hired musicians in that position to give them a 'day job.' I had done an interview with and some photographs of Bob Wiseman, then keyboardist for the band "Blue Rodeo," for a small paper where I was the photo editor (and environmental columnist). I knew Bob from years earlier, having met him (before they released their first album "Outskirts") through Greenpeace, where I worked at that time; and their record company had supplied me with free copies of Bob's first solo album ("In Her Dreams"). I mentioned this to one of my co-workers, Matt Johnson (drummer for the Canadian band "54/40"), and he said to me: "You know, John, I can get free copies of pretty much any band that I want to; but I prefer to pay for my music, because that is the best way to support the bands that I like and to help make sure that their music stays available."

    He's absolutely right; and ever since, I have always made a point of actually buying a copy of the CD being sold by the bands that I like enough to make an effort to go out and photograph.

    Personally, I feel very strongly that you have to respect the performers in their role as musicians before you can expect them to respect you as a photographer: that, to me, is the essence of professionalism in this kind of venue; and that's why I never use a flash for concert photography. At any rate, that's my take on photographing bands.
    Last edited by John Morton; 21st September 2012 at 05:33 AM.

  12. #12
    Shadowman's Avatar
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    Re: The Funk Band

    John,

    I agree about the flash to a degree only because of something I read from a photographer who advocated the use of bounce flash. Joe McNally, in one of his guides, discussed using bounce flash with low intensity bounced off the ceiling. Joe stated that the flash is minimal, wouldn't be directed at the performers, and would give just enough light to provide a good source for a good exposure.

    That being said, I would never use flash indoors or even bother to try to photograph the event unless I had permission. The above shots were all outdoor and part of a music/art festival so I took a few more liberties than usual, the same goes for the Amazon shots, these models were part of a live exhibit. You just approached the models, give the universal gesture for "can I take your picture" and gave a thank you afterward.

    I have a fast lens but it is a fixed local length and I couldn't get the shot I wanted so I upped my ISO with my telephoto. The first shot was taken at 55mm, so I sacrificed a bit of detail for that particular shot. And yes, handholding the camera adds to the difficulty.

  13. #13
    John Morton's Avatar
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    Re: The Funk Band

    Hi, John;

    This is a very popular topic and a lot of new photographers want to try their hand at concert photography so I think we are doing them all a big favor by outlining what we consider to be, in our experience, "Best Practices" for concert photography. I see there are already ~135 views listed to this thread so it is definitely a topic of interest to members.

  14. #14
    Shadowman's Avatar
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    No One's the Wiser!

    For any Walking Dead fans.

    The Funk Band

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