With the Electric Picnic happening in Stradbally, Co, Laois this weekend, I thought I’d share some tips on taking photos at concerts.
Because it will be dark, a camera set to ‘auto’ will try to use the flash. This is pointless as the stage is way too far away for the flash to be of any use. All that will happen is that you will have fantastic photos of the back of people heads a couple of rows in front of you!
So the first thing we need to do is disable the flash, which will allow the stage lighting to have a more pronounced effect, capturing more of the concert’s atmosphere.
Most cameras have a shortcut to this setting on the back of the camera, look for a lightning flash symbol on the control buttons. When pressed, this will bring up the flash options, usually Auto (flash symbol with an A beside it), Anti-Red eye (flash with an eye symbol), Always On (just the flash symbol) or No Flash (the flash symbol with a strike through it). Obviously select No Flash in order to disable it.
Now we have another problem. With no flash, the camera will try to compensate for the lack of light by taking a longer exposure, which causes blur as a result of camera shake or your subject moving around on stage! Our way around this is to increase ISO sensitivity which can be done through the menus, this allows the camera to take a brighter picture with less blur.
High ISO’s will tend to have a grainy look to them, but sometime this can add an “Arty” feel to the image, which can suit concert photos. I tend to think it’s better to have a bright but grainy photo, than a black piece of paper!
Compact cameras generally will not be able to get close enough to the artist on stage. The ideal camera to take would be one of the “Super-Zooms” such as a Fuji F660, Nikon S9300 or Canon SX240 with their long zoom range they are very capable of getting into the action.
While you’re snapping, try to get images of the audience, and the stage itself. Soak up the ambience, and remember that photography is really all about capturing the light!
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