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How to be a Music Photographer – Part 2: Out of the Darkroom with Ruth Medjber

How to be a Music Photographer – Part 2: Out of the Darkroom with Ruth Medjber


Hello and welcome to Out of the Darkroom on AdoramaTV. I’m Ruth Medjber and I’m here at Castlepalooza music festival. Today I’m going to be answering all those gear-related questions you guys have been asking.
And I’m also going to talk you through what gear I use. AdoramaTV presents Out of the Darkroom with Ruth Medjber. So Chris Knight asks “Given light and colors change constantly,
do you set a particular white balance, use auto white balance or shoot raw and try to get flesh tones or hand tweak white balance in post?” Personally, I
shoot in auto white balance and I’ve never ever had a problem with it. You
won’t really get a lot of mixed lighting when there’s a stage, you know when it’s a
stage set up, usually it’d be all the same color temperatures. I guess I’d probably change
some tones afterwards in post-production but I probably wouldn’t rely on it heavily. The
biggest fear or the biggest challenge photographers will ever come across is
red lighting. When you go to photograph a gig and the first three songs are all
red, it’s just so difficult. it doesn’t react well in the camera so if I’m faced with
that then yeah, I will rely on post-production to help me out of that
crisis. But ordinarily I just stick it on auto white balance and the camera knows what it’s doing. It’s the easier way around things. So here’s a question from Dhaval. Dhaval says “Most of the time when I shoot any music event or
dance event I face problems with lighting, musicians, especially rock
guitarist move so quickly I cannot shoot on lower shutter speeds and flashes
are just not enough because of the distance from the stage,” so he wants to know if I have any suggestions. Well, flash, you can’t use in a photographer’s pit, professionally. You’re not allowed flash. Flash is banned, it’s very
distracting for the artists, so just take it off your camera and say no to flash.
Some of the times, though, if I’m already working with the band, I can agree with them to
use flash certainly at some points but I’d always have to have permission from the
band first. So if the lighting is really, really poor
I could take my camera off the flash, have it on a remote trigger and hide it
somewhere around the back of the stage. That way when it pops off its not going
to annoy the band too much. It might annoy the crowd for a bit, though, so I wouldn’t tend to do it for more than like two or three flashes per show.Now, the only
other way of getting around the lighting issue is to bump up your ISO, shoot at the fastest aperture you have and as a general rule I probably wouldn’t shoot below an
80th of a second if I’m shooting musicians because yes, they do move so fast around. So, it really depends on the show. If it’s a punk gig, I’m probably looking at like 250th of a second because I know that they’re going to be jumping around like mad. If it’s a
solo singer/songwriter or someone that’s quite stationary during the shoot, I
could- might even bring it down to about a 50th of a second and get away with it quite comfortably. So it really depends on the scenario and on the band
that’s playing in front you. Lighting is always an issue with music photographer
but the more you get out there and the more you she’s the more you learn to
deal with it all and yeah just try everything you can. Good lens, good ISO
and see what you can do. So here’s a nice, broad question. “What are your go-to exposure settings when shooting in dark venues?” OK, if I’m on a 1.4 lens, I’m shooting at 1.4. Not
everyone will have such a fast lens. If you’re using a kit, you might be only on
3.5 or 5.6, so open it up as fast as you can, shoot at the lower aperture. and then I guess it depends on the
camera, what ISO you’re shooting at. If your camera can comfortably manage 2000/ 4000 ISO. like my D4S can, then by all means shoot at it. If you
noticed that your camera kind of tends to fall apart over 800 ISO then there’s
nothing you can do about that. Shoot the maximum what you’re comfortable with, your camera . The best
way to do that is go into a dark venue and to find out what your ISO, what you’re
capable level is, go in shoot over the range up to whatever you can manage
and then bring it into Photoshop, or onto Lightroom or something like that. Bring it into your computer, enlarge it and see the amount of noise at 800 or at 2000, or whatever
the maximum you could reach up to. You’ll notice some images just fall
apart beyond 800, depending on your camera and then in terms of shutter
speed I probably stick to around 125th of a second, But if the light is so so so bad, then a 50th of a second, 60th of a second. Really, again, depends on the
amount of movement that’s on stage. If they’re quite slow and steady movement I
can even, like, move with the band, so I know this looks a little bit crazy but when I’m shooting a band, if they’re swaying, I tend to sway as well to keep with movement
with them so I mean it really depends on the situation. If you’ve got a guy that’s
jumping off an amp stack you got to be doing that at around a 500th of a
second to catch in mid-air so it’s quite a general question but let’s just
say, for example say, a 125th of a second, 800 ISO, 1.4 on your aperture. So a lot of people come up to me and say ‘Oh, I wish I had your camera’ you know, this, that and the other, then they’re really gear envy I suppose. Don’t worry too much about the gear you have,
just concentrate on getting the best shots out of the camera that you already
own. The only way that you can do that is by getting to know your camera. You know, you need to be shooting these
gigs almost like automatically. Your fingers should know where your aperture is, your other finger should know where your shutter speed is. You should be reading that
light meter inside your viewfinder, the entire time. I mean, I shot the first few
years of my professional career on a Nikon D70 which is quite an entry level
camera and I also used a Kit Lensfor so, so long. I mean you can make it work,
you just have to be a little bit smart about it and know how to use your manual controls in that camera. So don’t worry too much if you haven’t gotten a Nikon D 4S. Just go with what you have. Be quite confident and just learn as much
as you can from watching tutorials and just getting to grips with your camera
and shoot, shoot, shoot. The only way you’ll ever get better at this is not by
upgrading your gear, but by upgrading your knowledge, so just go practice, shoot, learn and enjoy it. Thanks for joining me on the show, I hope you enjoyed it. Feel free to subscribe to the channel because I’m going to be bringing you back some more great videos. If you want to brush up on your
own photography skills, check out the Adorama Learning Centre where we post lots of great articles, tips and tricks. I’ll see you again soon. Do you want great-looking prints at low-cost? Be sure to visit our easy to use online printing service. Adorama Pix has
professionals who treat your images with the utmost care that you can count on. For a quick turnaround on photos, cards or albums use adoramapix.com.

Comments (15)

  1. Great informative video, loved it.

  2. Fantastic 2nd part. I'm currently trying my hand at events photography and have a festival to go to this weekend, I'm going as a normal festival goer but wanted to take my DSLR to practice so emailed the organisers as i know alot of festivals here in England say no to pro gear and i was pleasantly surprised to get a quick reply saying it is fine and they are aware that there are alot of budding photographers out there, the only stipulation was no large lenses or tripods, which is fair enough. I've hired a 70-200 f4 is instead which is still quite big but not as big as the f2.8 and i also want to enjoy the festival too and this is my first time with an L lens.I have my kit lens too so really looking forward to this weekend. Thanks again for the videos, learnt so much fro you 🙂

  3. I love my Nikon D810 and the world of Auto-focus but there's something about my old Nikon F2AS Manual film cameras. Great for fending off aggressive people. LOL Built like a tank 🙂 Great series.

  4. Great advice Ruth! I hope that you are feeling better. People should know to try out Nikon manual AIS lenses because they have less lens elements in them providing more light onto film or digital photography. I have tried these lenses and they are incredible to shoot with. A person could get a used 50mm AIS F1.8 or F1.4 excellent condition and come out with great photographs. I now own three manual lenses and they are the 50mm F1.8 E series AIS, 28mm E series F2.8 AIS, and the 35mm F2.8 AIS. You should check out on Youtube for the Angry Photographer. He maybe a bit crazy or silly but he is very smart when it comes to gear and digital photography. You could gain some pointers from him. I know this for sure because I took on his advice and it worked. Cheers!

  5. In mixed lighting situations i prefer shooting on professional film. Color is way more accurate and natural than on my 5D mark II, the only limitation is low ISO.

  6. A crappy 18-200 super zoom I bought turned out to deliver pretty great images at 200/5.6 so to my surprise I got great images from an outdoor festival some five years ago. Apparently it was tuned to be horrible in wide-medium and then just got better the more tele it got 🙂

    I really see that with my 450d the technical limitations were a huge problem, especially for JPEG, not so much with RAW. Today's sensors, especially when shot RAW, you get great shots on virtually any camera, and possibly aided with a fast lens. Also black-and-white conversions are an option to extend ISO beyond your color ISO limitations. Going BW seems at least double the ISO which is usable.

  7. Great advice about knowing how to use the gear you have. It's also nice to see someone not talking down to the rest of us. I have gotten the opportunity to shoot some live bands but just local acts. One of the first gigs I shot was for a guy I worked with's band in 1989. I was using a Ricoh KR-30sp with a JC Penny 135mm f2.8 lens and the Ricoh 50mm f2 lens that came with the camera. It was manual focus to boot. I shot about three rolls of Tri-X pushing it to ISO 1600. I shoot sports mainly now using digital cameras but I do still love to shoot film!

    From 1989: http://www.flickr.com/photos/gary99099/albums/72157640981971444/with/12525632293/

  8. Wise words Ruth. Thank you.

  9. With the dramatic lighting changes that take place on stage, it the only time I use Auto ISO, works for me, but what do I know, I just shoot small venue local bands….
    http://www.hadephoto.com/PORTFOLIO/The-Music/

  10. Thanks, Ruth, for a great set of videos.

    If you have a zoom, ZOOM BLUR! (I rarely have a zoom on me, shooting fast primes.)

    Also, you usually have a lot of time to take pics, so mix it up; try some slow shutter speeds to capture dynamic movement and high shutter speeds to get the freeze-frame effect. I alternate between shooting and just enjoying the show, and keeping a mind on what the band is doing and where the music is going to consider "will there be an amazing moment soon?"

    If you're in the crowd, be courteous and be aware; avoid blocking views and avoid using the camera's display, if you can. ('course with everyone holding up their phones these days, I don't think this is as big an issue. But I still try to be considerate.)

  11. I Always use cloudy white balance.

  12. Great tutorial. I have this problem btw. I shoot concerts for an organisation ('semi pro') and at a lot of gigs there are like 1.60 meter 'tall' girls and I'm nearly 2 meters tall. Off course I get in the way of those people (most of the times there is no front stage and I have to stand in the crowd) and it gets on their nerves. Obviously I understand this as I'm a music fan first. How can I not get on the nerves of the audience ?

  13. Good advice. Thanks! Slainte!

  14. Hi I am doing an inside gig soon and just got my 50mm f/1.8 lens I have a nikon d7100 can you tell me settings without flash xx

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