I read up on concert photography prior to going to the show. (IShootShows.com has some awesome information. Start there.) I knew I didn’t have the equipment for it, but was prepared to give it a shot, anyway. All the concert photographers will tell you to have a relatively new camera with great high-ISO performance, and lenses that are at least f/2.8, if not wider. Even better: Shoot prime lenses.
Me, I had a nearly-five year old model Canon XTi camera, one 50mm f/1.8 prime lens, and a 70-300mm f/4-5.6 zoom lens.
But two things work in my favor with that: First, I had a great seat. We were off to the right side of the stage, eight rows off the floor, just about even with the front of the stage. So, basically, we were just over eye level with the Wiggles, and not that terribly far away. My 50mm lens would just squeeze in the entire stage. My 70-300mm lens would give me portraits of people close up, and full body images of performers at the far end of the stage.
Second, Lightroom has good noise reduction features. LR3 is amazing, from what I’ve seen, but I don’t have it yet. (Won’t work on my ancient PowerPC-chipped Mac.) But LR2 does the job just swell, thanks. Plus, I don’t plan on blowing any of these images up that large, so I don’t need them to be so clean.
I had to shoot the entire concert at ISOs 800 and 1600 (mostly the latter) but I got images that were surprisingly usable. Plus, it’s the Wiggles: They light up the whole stage. And I’m not trying to get pictures of the people in their seats where it’s dark. I’m happy to have them disappear.
Still, shutter speeds weren’t always super fast, so I had to do two things to compensate:
First, I shot in burst mode. For every picture I wanted, I’d take three, figuring one of them would come out sharp enough.
Second, I chose my moments. Having watched the Wiggles concerts before, I knew some of what I was in for. I knew the poses that specific Wiggles would hold. I knew where in the song the most movement would be and so should avoid those spots. So choosing more pictures of people closer to me (more open f/stop at closer distances on my telephoto zoom) at times when they’d strike a pose was a big help.
But I still had one LARGE lesson to learn, and it’s the one that hurt the most. I’ll discuss that on Monday. (CLIFFHANGER!)