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Old 03-03-2008, 17:39   #1 (permalink)
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Advice needed from experienced concert 'togs.

I know we have some superb specialists on pixalo in various areas of photography and concerts is something I have very little experience of. Next week I have a superb opportunity and I really don't want to mess it up so any help from experienced concert photographers would be most welcome.

I have an Official Photographers Pass including All Areas for the Cardiff date in the UK Tour of X Factor with the likes of Leon, Same Difference, Nicki, Rhydian et al. Putting aside all opinions about the music as that isn't really relevant, I would really appreciate some help on what kind of things to keep in mind when shooting at a concert like this.

The equipment I'll be taking with me is:

Canon 40D
17-40mm f4 L
28-70mm f2.8 L
100-400mm L IS
50mm f1.8
Canon EX 580 ll flash
Tripod and monopod

All experienced help gratefully received.

Cheers,
Rob
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Old 03-03-2008, 18:59   #2 (permalink)
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Re: Advice needed from experienced concert 'togs.

VP is your man Rob........drop him a PM if he doesn't look in here

Look forward to seeing your shots
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Old 04-03-2008, 20:54   #3 (permalink)
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Re: Advice needed from experienced concert 'togs.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Rob Barron View Post
I have an Official Photographers Pass including All Areas for the Cardiff date in the UK Tour of X Factor with the likes of Leon, Same Difference, Nicki, Rhydian et al. Putting aside all opinions about the music as that isn't really relevant, I would really appreciate some help on what kind of things to keep in mind when shooting at a concert like this.
Oooooo nasty.

And I'm not kidding.

There's a very nasty, rights grabbing, very restrictive release form that you'll have to sign or they don't let you in. My first piece of advice would be to read the release form very carefully and, if you don't like it, don't shoot the show.

Last month, the photographers from the Daily Record, The Sun and the Evening Times up here objected to a few of the terms in the release and tried to score them out... they were effectively told to put up or shut up by the tour's media manager (with respect to the releases) and consequently they all walked out instead of shooting the show.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Rob Barron View Post
The equipment I'll be taking with me is:

Canon 40D
17-40mm f4 L
28-70mm f2.8 L
100-400mm L IS
50mm f1.8
Canon EX 580 ll flash
Tripod and monopod
If you do decide to go ahead and shoot the thing, you should leave your tripod and flash at home, since you won't be allowed to use them. The monopod might come in handy if you decide to shoot from the mixing desk.

f/4 can be a little dim for gig shooting - if you flick through my gallery, you'll see that almost all the shots were taken at f/2.8... so take your three zooms but I'd suggest you start out with the 28-70 attached.

Another word of advice: an Access All Areas pass isn't as carte blanche as it might seem. It basically means three things:

1. You'll be allowed to shoot for the entire duration of the event
2. You'll be allowed to shoot from almost any position except
a) On the stage
b) Dressing rooms / backstage production areas
3. You still have to follow the rules and guidance of production and security

I do wish you the best of luck, Rob - and I'd suggest that, if this is a paying assignment, that you liaise with your client and discuss in advance what to do in the event of the release terms being too restrictive.

Last edited by VikingPhotography; 04-03-2008 at 23:07.
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Old 04-03-2008, 22:05   #4 (permalink)
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Re: Advice needed from experienced concert 'togs.

Explained very good VP
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Old 05-03-2008, 13:22   #5 (permalink)
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Re: Advice needed from experienced concert 'togs.

I've only shot local / small bands so this sounds like a good learning opportunity, restrictions notwithstanding.

I'd definitely recommend some ear plugs, especially if you're going to be at the front, and a 70-200 f2.8 would be v handy if you can't get to the stage front.

I'd fully expect the stage lighting to be decent and not your usual small gig 2 spots with red gels You could even shoot at Iso 200 if it's bright enough.
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Old 08-03-2008, 19:14   #6 (permalink)
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Re: Advice needed from experienced concert 'togs.

Thanks all for the comments, especially VP for your detailed feedback.

I am definitely doing it but it is not a paid event as such. I am doing this on behalf of my radio station. We arranged to do some interviews and asked if we could get some shots so they offered us a full Photographers Pass on condition we had a professional photographer, ie not someone turning up with a digital compact (they obviously and quite rightly only want photos being taken that will do their artistes justice!)

I will be positioned at the front of the stage just in front of the crush barriers which gives us pretty much unfettered views and won't really need me to be using long lenses to get decent shots. I'll go with what VP has suggested and have my 28-70mm f2.8 attached as standard and will have my nifty fifty and my long lens there just in case I need them.

I am expecting the stage to be well lit so don't expect problems on that score. I am hopeful of shotting at slowest ISO but if necessary I'll happily go up to 400ISO or even 640ISO which on my 40D never displays any major noise problems.

I'm taking two Extreme III 4Gb cards and will be shooting RAW (I have two other cards in case of emergencies) throughout, as indeed I do almost all the time these days.

I did wonder about whether a tripod was necessary so i shall leave that in the car but take my monopod just for stability if needed. I'll leave the flashgun in the bag and not use it. Haven't been told rules on that but I did figure that flashguns would probably not be welcome, especially as they'll be filming this for clips to go on the X Factor Tour DVD. I've not needed the flashgun for other shows that I have done and they were not concerts so had worse lighting than I would expect here.

No probs with release forms and all that side of things, I am used to signing stuff like that as and when necessary and we already have in writing the specific permissions we need for our usage. One of those is permission to put onto a website (needed for our station's website so we can use for publicity purposes regarding the interviews) which will also allow me to show on here should I want to. I am not allowed to offer for sale other than through the organisers but that is not my purpose in doing them anyway and can't see too many people wanting photos of Rhydian and Leon!

Thanks again and if you have any other technical advice regarding the actual taking of the shots themselves, do speak up quick.... I am going to Cardiff on Tuesday

Cheers,
Rob
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Old 08-03-2008, 19:18   #7 (permalink)
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Re: Advice needed from experienced concert 'togs.

Good luck for Tuesday Rob!
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Old 08-03-2008, 19:28   #8 (permalink)
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Re: Advice needed from experienced concert 'togs.

Yep - hope it goes well and looking forward to the forthcoming tutorial!
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Old 08-03-2008, 21:02   #9 (permalink)
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Re: Advice needed from experienced concert 'togs.

Rob;

Okay - now that you've cleared up some of the points re. your level and type of access - here goes. (FWIW, I'll write the following as general advice for anyone who is thinking of shooting live music)

If you're only going to be shooting from the pit - forget the monopod; there's simply not going to be any space to use it. Also, if you're not getting backstage portrait opportunities, you can leave the flash at home too... although some other staff photographers I know are told to get pre-gig crowd shots and, if this is the case, you'll need the flash for that.

You should be in fully manual mode in order to be in total control over your exposure. I always pre-set my camera to f/2.8, 1/160 sec and ISO 800 and make adjustments from that point.

I believe that ISO 800 on your 40D will be nice and crisp so, if the lighting gets really bright, increase your aperture and/or shutter speed to compensate. If you're shooting RAW you'll have a little latitude in terms of mild under or overexposure, but still check the histograms on your first few shots.

If you're at all familiar with using the AF-ON button on the back of your camera, do so. When I first started gig photography, I had the AF and shutter button linked... now I have my cameras set so that only the AF-ON button triggers autofocus, and the shutter can fire independently of this.

Why? If your finger slips whilst on the shutter button, you'll probably end up re-focusing the camera on a spot where it shouldn't be - resulting in an unusable OOF picture. Using the AF-ON button vastly reduces the chance of this happening.

As for subject composition - there are a few things to watch for

1. Microphones: they're a devil to account for since they're often glued to the performer's face. Try shooting crosswise from the wings with a long lens to counter for this.





2. Keep a sharp eye for those moments when the performers move away from the microphones and go in for the "kill" quickly - shoot a burst if you need to.





3. Take a good look at the stage lighting and work out which angles to shoot from so that it enhances and draws attention to the performers





4. This is a tough one: try to engage with the performers in some manner so that you can get those elusive looking-straight-down-my-lens-eye-contact shots that are priceless. When they turn your way, flash a smile, look like you're enjoying yourself and/or sing along if you know the number... it works!





5. Lastly, be mindful that there will be other photographers in the pit alongside you, all trying to do the same. Ensure that you don't wander infront of anyone's lens... duck down when moving around. It's okay to shoot extremely close to another photographer's spot. I've had lenses rested on my shoulders, pressing my ears into my skull and - on the odd occasion - even pressed on top of my head!

One more thing: if it's at all possible for you to beg, borrow, steal or hire a second body, then do so. It saves a ton of time vs. swapping lenses out. If the radio station is willing to shell out a bit of cash for a rental, then the best place would be from here Hireacamera.com - Canon 40D

Hope this advice helps and I look forward to seeing the end results.
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Old 08-03-2008, 23:52   #10 (permalink)
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Re: Advice needed from experienced concert 'togs.

Very useful advice VP, very concisely put + logically set out, I think you should copy your last post into the tutorials section
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Old 12-03-2008, 19:23   #11 (permalink)
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Re: Advice needed from experienced concert 'togs.

Something I found most annoying on one of my earliest concert outings was the venue that required photo passes for 'good' cameras, and inflicted the 3 song rule, no flash, etc... but STILL allowed everyone else to come in with a point and shoot and to flash away. Sometimes the burst will save you from missing a shot that otherwise would have been wrecked by some dude's flash from the audience.. so don't hesitate.

I HATE machine-gun photography, but it's sometimes the only saving grace for situations like that.
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