Saturday, 26 March 2011

The Beginners Guide To: Concert Photography (Part 3 of 3)

The Flesh Eating Foundation @ DV8 Festival, York 2010
(c) Imago Mortis Photography

Photographing festivals

There are two types of festival: Indoor and Outdoor, and each have their own rules. We give you a few tips on how to get access to them and get great results.

Festivals can be small scale affairs or major events. By the time you’ve shot a few good sized club gigs the chances are you’ll have a portfolio showing the best of your abilities. At this point you may want to contact small print or web publications about providing them with photos for gigs. This will give you the ability to contact band’s, promoters and organisers about getting press passes for larger events.

Shooting at this level has a few more rules to learn. An amateur to intermediate photographer wouldn’t have problem getting access to an event providing they have a publication to confirm they will be receiving the pictures, but they may have equipment limitations. Large festivals for example will require a more powerful lens due to the sizes of the stage. For smaller festivals though it won’t be so much of a problem, so a cheap telephoto lens or the top end of the standard lenses should do the job.

Natural light brings it’s own problems and eases too. There is less adjusting of the camera’s settings to do before hand for one. The abundance of sunlight will give an even spread of light that will allow you to focus on your angles, depth of field, and generally spend more time on looking out for the shots to get. However there can be an excess of UV lighting that will bleach colours - this can be easily compensated for buy buying a £10 UV filter. Glare caused by multiple light sources and excess light can also ruin photos, but again a £5 camera hood will cut this out.

At an indoor festival you will probably have the benefit of a press pit to free you up from the jostle of the crowd, but you must still pay attention to dark and complex lighting conditions and any rules regarding shooting times. In both the indoor and outdoor situations you’ll want to be ready to go without having to adjust throughout songs. The basic set up for your camera should be: ‘Manual’, ISO 400-800, Aperture F/4-6, and a shutter speed of 10th-30th of a second. These will give you a broadly quick starting point to get as many shots as you can.

Get as many shots of one pose as you can, use different angles and crouch if need be. Use different focal lengths, get different band members. Get a good spread of photographs and when the set is over go through them and delete the outright bad ones before the next set. You’ll be glad of this when it comes to post processing.

Luxury Stranger @ DV8 Festival, York 2010
(c) Imago Mortis Photography

Hints & Tips:
Get permission!
Some venues have a zero tolerance policy on cameras which may result in ejection from the premises so it’s best to contact the venue owner or the band first preferably by email so you can print a copy to take with you. Bigger venues, festivals, and band’s tour managers will issue press and photo passes to journalists so get in contact with a publication or website about contributing photos and the editor will more often than not sort you out with a pass.

The ‘rule of three’
At some gigs, and most definitely at festivals there is something called the rule of three to watch out for. This basically means you can only shoot the band for the first three songs. Some promoters and venues are more relaxed about this depending on the band. If you attend a concert as an unofficial photographer it doesn’t mean much to you, but it is in place so that photographers don’t get in the way of the audience. As this is the case you’ll want to focus on getting shots of the band at the climactic points of the first three songs which will sometimes require research. Needless to say having your camera ready to go is a must in this situation.

Chances are if you shoot four bands you’ll have deleted a hundred odd photos in total at the gig and still have a full memory card. The worst bit is you need to pick 15-30 to polish. This takes the most time and effort, and it will ultimately determine the look of your portfolio.
A standard way of going through your photos is to transfer the photos you’re considering editing to a separate folder. Only you can determine what you think is a great shot in this environment as all tastes are different. Motion may appeal to you, or you may be a stickler for clarity. In the end it’s your style. Once you’ve picked a few dozen photos, go back through them with a critical eye and any photos that look too similar or have noticeable imperfections should be binned.

If you’re not a fan of complex lighting there are two ways to enhance your photos, and they compliment each other in a portfolio. If you want to keep some of the colour, but not as strongly, simply de-saturate the colours by a few points and then adjust the brightness, midtone and shadow until you’re satisfied. The other option is to convert the picture to black and white and adjust the brightness, midtone, and shadow as well. These will give you sharp and atmospheric looking photos.

If the problem is a matter of noise on the photo, there are several filters built into photoshop and paint shop pro that will help. ‘De-noise’ and ‘Remove noise’ will take away some of the problem, but tools such as ‘Gausin Blur’, ‘Bightness and Contrast’, ‘Clarify’ and photograph restoration features on both programmes can be adjusted to remove major areas of noise.

The final thing to remember is to make high resolution copies of your files for print, in case you want to submit them to magazines or to create a physical portfolio or even to sell as prints through outlets such as Deviant Art. This can be done by simply resizing the image to 300 dots per inch in the image-resize option. However, if you are also making low resolution copies for an electronic gallery/portfolio, remember to add a watermark (if you want) and save the file at 72 dots per inch for a faster loading speed.
Wayne Hussey @ DV8 Festival, York 2010
(c) Imago Mortis Photography


Art photography said...

thanks for the guide.really its a nice guide for beginners.

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