BECOMING A CONCERT PHOTOGRAPHER - PART III - Making the Shot
Ok, you got your gear, your at the venue, and your ready to shoot.. What now? Using you camera correctly is something that takes patience and lots of practice. But for the beginners, the basic camera features and terminology will help you grow into a photo selling photographer. Get out your camera manual, learn what all the buttons, wheels, and menus do.
1)Shutter Speed: i.e. 1\250, 1/4000: This controls how long your shutter stays open. To stop action and bring down brightness, you want a faster shutter. For low light and to capture motion, you want a slower shutter. Every show is different, but anything faster that 1\250 will probably be needed to get good sharp pictures.
Aperture: i.e. F1.8, F22 - This controls the Iris of the lens. A smaller number has a bigger aperture, so you can let in more light to have a faster shutter. The larger the aperture, the more you have to concentrate of getting proper focus. A 1.8 aperture will blur the background considerably, and you will need to make sure you focus on the proper part of the person you are photographing. At this aperture, if you focus on his guitar, his face may be out of focus.
2) ISO: This refers to the sensitivity of your camera. A lower ISO will give you less noise and a cleaner image, but will force you to use slower shutter speeds. If its real dark, you will need to kick up your ISO to get the shutter speed you need to stop the action and minimize movement blur.
3)Camera Menu: Manual Mode, Shutter Priority, Aperture Priority - Manual means you set the shutter and aperture manually and the camera does not compensate automatically for changes in light. This is recommended for Concert Photography, but is difficult to get good where you can take fast pictures. Shutter Priority is easier because you can set the camera at your preferred shutter speed, like 1/400, and start snapping away. The camera will automatically adjust the aperture to compensate for changes in light. For beginners, use this until you are comfortable shooting in full manual where you can have complete artistic Control. Higher end cameras have dual wheels on the camera to control Shutter and Aperture independent of each other, making manual mode much easier and faster.
4)Quality: JPEG/TIFF/RAW | NEF Shooting in RAW (NEF for NIKON) is highly recommended for Concert Photographers. JPEG photos are processed by the camera from data directly off the sensor. You choose the cameras settings, and the camera takes the RAW data off the sensor, applies your settings, and then removes any unseen date, and creates a JPEG. The RAW or NEF file, is taken directly off the sensor and most data is kept from the photography. This gives you the flexibility to bring back lost data from the original shot. Different from popular belief, shooting in RAW does not take the place of making a proper shot, it just gives you a little more flexibility in your editing process. If you were a perfect photographer, then shooting in JPEG would be quick and easy with little to no editing. This however, is usually not the case for beginner photographers. Most professional photographers shoot in RAW for the flexibility. If you didnt need RAW, then you might as well shoot film for your concerts.
5) Autofocus - Read your owners manual and practice with the different types of auto focus that your camera utilizes.. This is very important, as most cameras have a setting where the camera tracks movement and continually refocuses based on you and your objects movement. This may hinder you sometimes when composing a shot, so make sure you know the different focus features of your camera, and how to change them at a moments notice.
Please check out these sites to help you get more and more from your Concert Photography!
www.taylormahaffey.com - My Gallery
ishootshows.com - Todd Owyoung, Concert Photographer PRO
onelouderphoto.com - Chris Owyoung, Concert Phtoographer PRO
www.ashnewell.com - On tour personal Concert Photographer for Taylor Swift, Hinder, Def Leppard, and others..