Using flash in concert photography

Discussion in 'Lighting Equipment' started by analox, Jan 13, 2009.

  1. Hi,

    I was asked by my friends to photograph their performance in their university concert. It is just a school event so using flash is allowed. I know that the stage is quite big (main lecture theater). Ambient light is one main spot/hard light & it will be pretty dark around.

    I'm thinking of using flash in this case since natural light would likely result in hard and ugly shadow on their faces & I don't have a very fast lens (f2.8 is the best that I can get). I have 2 flashes, both can be triggered wirelessly. But I'm not sure if off-camera flash in this case is useful & convenient or I just use on-camera setting...

    I would like to have your opinions or experience on this situation, especially on the light setting aspect. Example photos to illustrate would be greatly appreciated...

    Looking forward to hear from you guys. Thanks in advance!


  2. Use available light. Since there is so much "dark" in the subject area, be sure to shoot in manual mode, spot meter and expose for the face(s). Set the white balance to incandescent - auto WB is not effective and inconsistent.

    You would need a mighty flash to overpower the stage lighting, especially 30 feet away or so. A little shoe-popper isn't going to do it. Besides, it's not necessary. You should get better than 1/30 at f/2.8 and ISO 400.
  3. Crank up your ISO to 800 or even 1600 and you should be fine. The spotlight might seem like harsh lighting, but not any more harsh than a direct on-camera flash. And at least it's coming from somewhere other than on the camera. If you don't have one, get a monopod -- it can help you keep the camera steady at slower shutter speeds without being as burdensome as a tripod. Also, work from as close to the stage as you can. You didn't say what lens you're using, but a zoom lens zoomed in to 200mm from far back is going to need a higher shutter speed to avoid blur than the same lens at 50mm up close.
  4. Thank you very much for your responses & tips :).
    @Craig: I'll use Olympus E520 + 12-60mm/f2.8-3.5 and have Canon 20D + 50mm f1.8 II in my bag just in case it is needed. They're the fastest lens that I can get now :D
  5. I would say leave the Oly in the bag and use the Canon 20D with 50mm.
    You can try to use a little bit of flash to fill in dark shadows in front of stage...But if your are not familiar with ballancing flash output power and camera this may be the wrong way. And what's more important anything that is between you and the subject in the photo frame will catch much more light and so it can happen that stage monitors become subject because too bright.
    Stage performance has everything to do with the ambiance, so best thing is to adept to the shortcommings of stage light, pre-think when subject movesto better light and so on.
  6. Here some output of mine. Thanks all for your interest & advices :)



    The complete set is here . Most of the photos were taken using ambient light only. I tried on-camera flash too but guess it didn't work well...

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