This past weekend, a friend’s band (Crooked Crow – an excellent ban) was in town and I was able to take a night out to see them live. I hadn’t planned on shooting any photos that night, but was asked to shoot a couple of shots while the band was on stage. As a bonus, I got to use my buddy’s camera, a Nikon D90, which isn’t too different than my own, the Nikon D80. Well, I’ll admit that this was the first time I was shooting a live performance – especially one on a dark stage. But I learned a lot, and I offer my findings here:
- Stay Out of the Way – This is a performance, after all. The audience will get annoyed if you keep getting in the way. Stick to the edges, and make sure not to obstruct the views of on-lookers. You don’t want to get in the performer’s way either.
- Shoot Low and High – Straight-on shots are boring. Try to get some unique angles by shooting from the floor, or from a balcony or cat-walk (if you have access).
- Mind the Light Sources – There will be lights on the stage, even some behind the performers. Be aware of these, but don’t be afraid to use them. You can get some cool back-light effects, or get some great highlights. Also be aware of the colors – they may blink on and off, so time your shots.
- Flash? – Don’t use your flash unless you get permission from the performers. Even if you do, use it sparingly. Flashes can be annoying for guests as well.
- High ISO – shooting a high ISO will allow you to keep that flash under control. None of the shots on this page used a flash. On the other hand, I was using that D90 which was shooting quite clear at ISO 1600. (I was a little jealous of that – the D80 is not as clear at that ISO).
- RAW – Shooting RAW allows you to pick up more detail. The drawback is that you’ll need to do some post-processing to push certain ranges just a little more. But the finished product will be that much better.