Concert photography

Solo female country artist, singer & pianist

f/1.8, 1/200 second, ISO 1600, 50mm prime


I was backstage during a theatre show recently & took the opportunity to snap a few photographs of the performers. Admittedly, being in the wings & taking images side on to the musicians didn’t always produce very flattering results (especially when they were down stage) but I quite liked the shot above.

I’d done some research beforehand & discovered concert photography isn’t without its problems. Most experts recommend using a fast lens, wide open in order to get the best results. In my case, this was a 50mm prime at f/1.8. Having said that, I didn’t use my camera on aperture priority mode (Av) as I was concerned about motion blur. Instead I set it on shutter priority (Tv) at a speed of 1/200. The camera then selected f/1.8 itself. The next issue I faced was setting an ISO high enough to facilitate well exposed images. I began at ISO 3200 but soon noticed ISO 1600 provided adequate results due to the stage lighting at the time. Obviously this would create quite a bit of noise in my images but I could address this later in post processing (I was shooting in RAW naturally). I have subsequently tried taking similar shots at other venues with the ISO set to AUTO & the camera has chosen settings between 2500 & 4000. I’m not yet sure whether this is a better way to go. Finally as far as the settings go, I was using spot metering with the central focus point selected & AI Servo mode.

I still have a lot to learn about this style of photography. Some people recommend using evaluative metering. Others suggest putting the camera in manual mode for greater flexibility. Continuous burst mode is another widely offered tip. I guess I’ll just keep trying things out.