Photographing concerts is not an easy task, especially indoor concerts. Often, you’ve got get dim lighting conditions. The lights you do have illuminating your scene are often extremes of one colour or another. They oversaturate your shot, you lose a lot of detail and information, especially in highlights and skintones, and your camera’s meter often just can’t handle it.
So, what can you do? In this video from concert photographer J. Salmeron at MetalBlastTV, we find out how our cameras react to different types of light, the challenges faced shooting concerts, and how to overcome some of them. It also explains why we see so many concert photographs shot in black and white.
The thing you have to remember about concerts is that they’re not lit for photographers. They’re lit for the best viewing experience for the fans who are forking over their hard earned cash to see them perform. There’s nothing you can do about it, it’s just the way it is. You just have to learn to live with it.
It is a pretty long video (19 minutes), combining hotshoe-mounted GoPro footage and final processed stills. The GoPro mounted above his Canon 5D Mark III also highlights how the concert appears to the fans.
- 2:13 – Black metal vs big name concerts
- 3:40 – The biggest difficulty – Red light
- 4:29 – First band (Tsjuder) introduction
- 6:57 – Second band (Marduk) introduction
- 8:43 – Third band (1349) introduction – with pyrotechnics!
- 12:07 – Post-processing with Lightroom
Using a GoPro on the hotshoe has always fascinated me. It takes behind the scenes videos to a new level. You’re actually getting an idea of the scene the photographer saw. Watching it side-by-side with the final photographs, shows you the scene the photographer saw. It also shows you exactly what they chose to keep in the shot, and what they chose to crop outside of the frame.
It’s impressive to see just how much information a raw file retains. There’s a lot more contrast, tone, colour and detail than one may initially expect looking at the camera’s LCD.
I think I’ll stick to concerts as a viewer, though, and leave the camera at home, but the techniques are fascinating. As is the mindset of a concert photographer.
Do you photograph concerts? What are your biggest lighting challenges? How do you overcome them? Let us know in the comments.