Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Using a point-and-shoot camera at a concert - A follow up to last week's blog

After posting last week's blog about photographing at concerts, I had many people write to me with questions, and many people said that they would never be able to shoot at a concert. Sure, not everyone can get credentials to shoot a concert, but that should not stop you from getting decent photos at a concert. Coincidentally, I went to a concert (Train, Gavin DeGraw, and The Script) with my family this past weekend, and since I was there for fun, and not shooting the concert, I only brought a Canon G15 camera. No DSLR, no big lenses...

With the proper settings, I was able to capture some nice images with a point-and-shoot camera, and thought I would share this with all of you as well.

The concert started at 7pm when there was still some nice evening light. We had pretty good seats (about 40 rows from the stage), and I used every bit of the 5x zoom on the camera to try and get close up shots. Honestly, for these types of shots, you could keep the camera in automatic mode and be fine.

As the light started dropping, I switched the camera to Aperture Priority and set the camera for the widest aperture it could get. I also left ISO in Auto mode, since I knew that it would be hard to change settings in the dark. (I am very familiar with changing settings on my DSLR cameras, but less so with this little camera.)

Luckily, Gavin DeGraw decided to hop off the stage and come into the crowd to sing some of his songs. This made it much easier to take grab some nice close shots.

I had perfect golden light on Gavin as he sang from the top of the railing.

This is my favorite photo of the evening. And as you can tell, it is not the sharpest image or the best lighting. This is a photo of Gavin DeGraw and my daughter (who is a HUGE fan of his). When I saw him head out into the crowd, I predicted that he might come our way and I told my daughter and her friend to follow me. At this point, I was in photographer mode, running backwards and trying to shoot images of my daughter and her favorite musician. 

During the second break, we decided to walk from our seats to the top of the lawn, to see what the view would be like from that location. I held the camera steady and shot this wide shot at 1/25 sec.

The headlining band was Train, and as you can see, the sun was long gone and it was time for some completely different camera settings. The camera was already in Aperture Priority and was set up to shoot at f/2.8 or a wide open as it would go when zoomed. The ISO was still set to Auto. I also changed the camera's metering mode to spot metering, to make sure that I had the right exposure on the face of the musician. And here is the most important tip: I noticed that, when reviewing the images, that the highlights were still blown out (too bright). In order to get the photos that you see here, I adjusted the exposure compensation between -1 and -2 stops. This gave me too major advantages. Firstly, it allowed me to control the exposures. And secondly, it bought me some shutter speed to make it easier to capture sharp images.

As you can see here, not every photo was great. With the constantly changing lights, there is some hit and miss when shooting concert photos.

Mid way through Train's performance, Pat Monahan was joined by Ashley Monroe to sing their new song, "Bruises". You will notice in this image how the Canon G15 metering was working for and against me. Their two singers are metered correctly, but the projection displays in the background are over exposed.

When shooting concerts, I really like to tilt the camera to match the angle of the lights. This is true regardless of whether I am using a DSLR or a point-and-shoot camera.

This last photo was taken during the final song, when Pat was joined by Gavin, Ashley and Danny (lead singer of The Script). Again, like many of the other photos that I captured, this is not one that I consider a great photo, but it is not bad for a small camera out in the crowd. And, as my daughter said, when looking at the images and video, the quality was WAY better from the G15 as compared to her iPhone images. Next time you head to a concert, and they restrict any cameras with interchangeable lenses, try bringing your smaller camera, adjusting the appropriate settings, and give it a shot.


Stefan Merz said...

Thanks for sharing, Jeff! :)
Coincidentally I used a G15 at Greenfield 2013, a local open-air rock festival here in Switzerland. I was nothing short of amazed about the comparatively great low-light capabilities of the camera. I managed to get a good couple of great shots. I mostly used P mode though, adjusting ISO and exposure compensation as needed

Wanda Martin Photography said...

Great blog, thank you! I've used the Canon G10 for years as my daily on-hand camera and for events. Recently I bought the G15. Although I haven't used it for events yet, I've discovered that it has a night-time hand held mode that is exceptional.

Anonymous said...

Here are few point and shoot cameras which can be used in concerts.

Cameras for concert