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Taking photos at concerts

Written by Gail Bjork

There is usually plenty of light when photographing a concert. So, what should be your main camera settings to get the best shots?!

RecitalOne of the things you don’t usually have to worry about when taking photos at a concert is the lighting. There is usually sufficient light for obtaining well-lit and exposed photos. That’s good news because use of a flash, even if permitted, is generally not effective for photographing concert scenes.

The type of lighting is the key

Try to find out in advance what type of lighting is used in the concert hall. Adjust the white balance setting on your camera accordingly. Do take some test shots before the show begins. Make sure to also check the camera sensitivity settings (ISO). Also check how responsive the camera will auto focus in the light.

ConcertSet your camera to center-weighted or matrix metering for most shots. If a subject has a spot-light on it, switch to spot metering mode. When using spot meter, lock exposure and focus on or near the brightest area of the subject, then recompose before taking the shot.

Camera sensitivity

If necessary, increase the sensitivity of the camera by using a higher ISO number, such as 200 or 400; higher if you’re using a DSLR or camera with a larger sensor than most compacts.

The downside is that may increase noise in photos, which can result in a reduction of photo detail and clarity. Fortunately, it can often be reduced with noise reduction software.

If you are far from the stage, zoom in close to the subject. When using long focal lengths and slow shutter speeds, steady yourself to minimize camera shake, or use a camera support. Make sure you press the shutter button down in two steps to lock focus and exposure.

GuitarVary shooting angles

Take some interesting and dynamic photos by varying the shooting angle. For additional interest, zoom in on just part of a subject such as a hand strumming a guitar.

Take some test photos before the show begins so you can adjust camera settings if needed. During the show, take several shots of the same scene so you get some “keepers.”

As when photographing any special event, set the camera to its highest quality and resolution in case you want to crop photos. Always try to keep the camera steady when shooting  in low or unusual light to prevent camera shake.

Note: before attending, inquire ahead of time if taking photos is permitted during a live concert.

About the author

Gail Bjork

Gail Bjork, who is passionate about digital photography, is the owner and editor of Digicamhelp.Gail is the author of three illustrated ebooks about digital photography. A number of her photos and digital photography related articles appear at other websites.In 2006, a series of her photos, People in the Louvre, were exhibited at the Underground Photo Gallery
in Iisalmi Finland. Eight of her photos taken in the Florida scrub are on permanent exhibition at Parrish Medical Center in Titusville, Florida.Gail served twelve years as an elected member of The School Board of Palm Beach County, Florida, one of the largest school districts in the U.S. She has also been the editor of a small town newspaper and a free-lance writer. Gail and her husband owned and ran several small businesses.

1 Comment

  • Thanks for this article. I found it very useful, as I have had trouble taking good pics at concerts due to camera shake. Haven’t been sure about proper settings or when to use the flash. I will now experiment and see how the next upcoming show goes. 🙂