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Pictures at Concerts

Find Tips for Shooting Better Concert Photographs


When shooting photographs of plays and concerts, you almost certainly will be forced to shoot in a low-light setting without the benefit of a flash. This can be a very difficult process, as low-light photos tend to cause inexpensive cameras to struggle.

Not only do you end up with subjects that are poorly lit, but you also will have a difficult time freezing moving subjects in a sharp photo. You also may potentially end up with blurry images that suffer from camera shake. Low-light photography has many challenges. Use these tips to achieve better results when photographing plays and concerts.

  • Shooting photos at a concert or at a play, where the auditorium is dimmed, is one area where better equipment will yield better photographs. This isn't always the case, as sometimes good photography techniques can help you overcome having a less powerful camera. However, in the case of shooting pictures at concerts, having a DSLR camera or a DIL camera will almost certainly provide better results than a point and shoot camera. So, if you're going to shoot photos under these conditions, and you don't have a powerful camera, see if you can borrow one.

  • Consider using a tripod to help steady the camera. Shooting in low light means slower shutter speeds, which could lead to blurry photos from camera shake, if you don't have a tripod available. So, investing in a tripod is one of the smartest things you can do, regardless of the type of camera you're using.

  • Before you arrive, make sure you know how to turn off the flash and how to silence the beeps that your digital camera makes. Few things are as distracting and annoying at a performance as a beeping, flashing camera. Some cameras now offer a "discreet" mode, which turns off the flash and sounds for you. Chances are that you're going to be too far away for your camera's flash to have any effect anyway, so there's no point in using it.

  • Because you won't be using a flash, look to increase the ISO setting for your camera. You may have to move into a Program or Manual mode to be able to manually set the ISO. When you set the ISO at a higher number, such as 1600 or 3200, you may find that the image becomes a little grainier, which could make it appear to be a bit out of focus. However, having a photo that's a little soft is better than having no photo at all, so try some high ISO photos.

  • If you're in a concert hall or auditorium, selecting the proper location from which to shoot is important. Most of the time during the concert, you'll be limited to shooting from your seat, so you don't disturb others. If you have a child in a concert involving a large group of students, ask ahead of time where your child will be standing, allowing you to position yourself properly.

  • Make sure your camera's automatic white balance setting is activated. Many times, the stage lighting used at a performance will vary slightly in color, based on which lights are activated. The automatic white balance setting should be able to adjust to these variations.

  • Shoot a variety of photographs, where you focus both on the overall scene and on the subject of your photographs (such as your child). Zoom in for close ups of your child interacting with others in a scene, but also zoom out for a wide angle shot that shows all of the scenery and the staging in a particular scene. Your child will want to see the play from the wide-angle perspective later, while the grandparents may want to see the close ups.

  • Consider shooting some photos after the event. For example, if your child is wearing a costume for a play, you'll be able to see the costume more clearly -- and you'll be able to use a flash -- by shooting additional photos after the event. Try shooting some photos of the child with some of the people who attended the concert or play, which will make a nice keepsake.

  • If possible, shooting photos before the event can create some fun results, too. Capturing the preparation for a concert can create memories. However, you'll want to be certain you aren't interfering with the prep time, so ask the instructor before you try to shoot these photos.

  • Finally, if you have the option of moving around during the performance, arrive early and find three to five good locations for shooting photos, which will save time once the performance starts. Just make sure the locations you select aren't going to be blocking the line of sight for other audience members.

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