Anyway, I wanted to talk about concert photography. Like many people at the concert, I took some photos with my phone (SLRs not permitted) and I wanted to give a quick tip.
The #1 ProblemIf you look at concert photos taken with phones, the #1 problem with them is that they are over-exposed. Concerts are full of a lot of darkness and bright, bright lights. Your phone / camera tries to judge the correct exposure, and in my experience it usually over-exposes the scene.
The opening act at this concert was Streetheart, a good old Winnipeg band. I snapped a few photos with my camera and it was pretty clear they were over-exposed. Have a look at poor Kenny Shields' face - or lack thereof.
These shots were so over-exposed that their faces have become pure white with no detail. There's no recovering from this in post!
The FixWhen your camera is getting the exposure wrong, what can you do?
You really have two choices:
- Tell your camera exactly what exposure to use; or
- Use exposure compensation
Specifying ExposureTo control the exposure on an SLR, you put it in manual (M) mode and specify all three parts of the exposure triangle: aperture, shutter speed and ISO.
On a camera, you may be able to do it with the built-in camera app (not on an iPhone!), or you can use a different camera app. I downloaded the excellent Manual iPhone app, which gives you pretty complete control over the iPhone's camera. The interface is a little busy, as you might expect, but it is a great app for controlling your camera.
Exposure CompensationThe other option is to use exposure compensation. Here you are basically telling your camera to determine the exposure, then bias it up or down by a given f-stop amount. This is what I recommend for concert photography, given the wildly varying light conditions.
On an SLR it is pretty easy to use exposure compensation. I won't get into that here.
The built-in iPhone camera app does do exposure compensation, at least on iOS 8 and above. Here's a great tutorial.
The Manual app I mentioned above also does exposure compensation.
How Much?As a rule of thumb for concert photography, I recommend -1 to -1.5 stops. You'll have to experiment to find out what works for you but I think you should err on the side of too much compensation to avoid the blow-out seen at top.
Other IssuesThe other major issue with concert photography using your phone is being too far away, but there's not much you can do about that. You can crop tighter but you need a lot of megapixels in your phone's sensor to make that work. I find that I can't crop too far with my iPhone before it looks bad. Check out how pixelated Gowan is here.
Oh - and don't zoom with your phone unless it actually has an optical zoom. When you zoom, you're losing pixels because for most phones, it's a digital zoom. You're basically cropping in-phone so you are losing resolution. I really don't recommend it.
I'll leave you with a few of my favourite photos from the concert.
|During "Light Up" they asked everyone to turn on their phones|
|James Young and Tommy Shaw rock out - note how Tommy's face is a bit over exposed|
|Styx rocking out|
|Near the end they fired off a ton of confetti|
|This is my favourite photo from the concert!|
|Styx taking a bow|
|Styx drummer Todd Sucherman|