This post is a follow-up to last week’s about my impromptu shoot at a Tragically Hip show at the Kitchener Auditorium. I thought I’d show a bunch more photos but also give a few tips and tricks.
Let’s start with packing gear. Because I hadn’t ever shot at an indoor stadium show and had no idea what kind of vantage point I’d have, I brought nearly everything (11-16, 17-55, 50-135, 35, 50, 85 and both the D300s and D7000… oh, and some strobes and light modifiers too). I really didn’t know if I would even have the chance to change lenses during the shoot but I wanted to be safe. At the time I also didn’t know the extent of the shoot…. would I be covering just the show? or maybe shooting the band afterwords? would the writer need some details to support an interview? In the end, when I found that I would just be shooting the first three songs, I opted for a simple and versatile setup that would need no lens swapping. I put the AF-S 17-55 f/2.8 on the D300s and the Tokina 50-135 f/2.8 on the D7000 and left the rest in the car.
Concert photography presents a few technical challenges due to the extreme contrast and colour of light and fast-moving performers. In the concerts I’m used to shooting, there is barely enough light to shoot 1/60s with a wide open lens at ISO 1600; however during this show there was ample light. I chose to shoot at ISO 1600 with the lenses wide open or near-wide open but was able to get very fast shutter speeds like 1/250s. Freezing the subjects was a breeze.
When shooting a concert the hall is usually quite dark and the subjects quite bright. Imagine trying to properly expose a backlit penguin in the snow and then invert the light and dark. The camera will want to expose for the shadows and completely blow out the subjects. When shooting wide angle with the D300s I dealt with this extreme contrast by setting the exposure compensation to -1EV and crossing my fingers. For the most part it worked and I got a lot of keepers. With the D7000 and 50-135 I used the spot meter instead of the matrix meter. I actually have the function button programmed to quickly switch to spot meter while pressed. Occasionally I would combine the spot meter with the AE-L (exposure lock) when I needed to recompose.