Posts By Brad Moore

How to Become A Concert Photographer
Concert photography is one of the most challenging fields in photography, but it’s also one the most satisfying. Imagine combining your two passions – music and photography – and shooting your lifelong idols in front of the stage. For some of you, this might feel like a dream come true.

But how do you start to become a concert photographer?

What equipment do you need?

Which camera settings work best?

In this blog post, I am going to reveal how you can get started as a concert photographer, which equipment you need when you’re on a budget and what camera settings work best. I hope it will improve your skills in this exciting field of photography.

Getting Started
The easiest way to build your career as a concert photographer is to start taking photos of concerts in small, local clubs. In these venues, it’s more likely that you can enter with your camera equipment without any special press accreditation. In my opinion, it’s also the only route when you’re starting out, learning all the basics that will help you nail the shots when you get to shoot the big rockstars later on. Why not ask some friends who play in a band and offer them your skills next time? For sure they would be more than happy to have pictures of their next concert.

The challenge in these small venues is often the lack of stage light! Most of the concerts I was starting with had only a blue and a red spotlight on stage. Besides the fact that the musicians look like creatures from another galaxy, the light was so low that you hardly got sharp pictures when not using proper equipment.

What is the solution? Get the right camera gear!

GEAR FOR CONCERT PHOTOGRAPHY

Camera: First, you’ll obviously need a camera. There are hundreds of different cameras from various manufacturers in different formats such as compact cameras, DSLRs, mirrorless or micro four thirds (M43) systems to name a few.

If you want to get out to a concert as soon as possible, get yourself a good DSLR and don’t think about it anymore. It doesn’t matter which brand you choose. I use Nikon, others use Canon and there are others who use Sony. Nikon and Canon are the biggest players in the market and offer a wide variety of lenses. Just go to your local photography store, hold some and decide which camera body feels best in your hands.

The ISO capability of your camera is key in concert photography. Depending on your budget, try to buy a crop sensor DSLR camera with a maximum ISO setting of at least ISO 6400. You will be faced with low lighting conditions on stage and therefore need the option to set high ISO values.

Crop sensor DSLRs are mostly available as a kit package together with a lens. You can get a decent camera body with a lens such as an 18-55mm f3.5-5.6. This kind of lens is good for “everyday” photography purposes, like travel and birthday parties outside, but they are absolutely useless for concert photography. So, in addition to your kit lens you will need to get another lens, or save some money and opt for a “body only” purchase.

Lens: For novice concert photographers on a budget, I would recommend the cheap 50mm f1.8 prime lens (it’s available for all brands and is a no-brainer!), because of its ability to shoot in low-light at its largest aperture setting. This lens is made of plastic, is small, lightweight and unobtrusive. The “Nifty Fifty” – also called the “plastic fantastic” – has saved me more than a few times. For small stages, a 50mm lens is a good compromise to get a headshot of the lead singer and a full-length shot of the drummer. Alternatively, you can also start with a 35mm f1.8 lens if you prefer a wider focal length.

You might ask, “but what about zoom lenses? I can have all focal lengths covered in one lens. Why should I buy a prime lens?”

Here’s the deal. The kit zoom lenses that come with cameras have smaller apertures (higher aperture numbers). By using an aperture of e.g f5.6, less light passes through the lens (compared to f1.8), which will result in a lower possible shutter speed. From my experience, an aperture of at least f2.8 is a necessity in concert photography, and therefore a cheap zoom lens is not an option for using as a concert photographer. You can get zoom lenses with an aperture of f2.8, but they are quite expensive and thus are not fitting for everyone’s budget.

MUST-HAVE CAMERA SETTINGS FOR CONCERT PHOTOGRAPHY
The correct camera settings are key to getting awesome concert photos in low light situations. Maybe you were in this situation before. You used the fully automatic mode in front of the stage and – BAM- the little flash monster sitting on top of your camera pops up and throws the ugliest light you can think of onto the singer’s face. At this point, a lot of frustrated concert photography beginners just take their cameras home and never shoot a concert again. But wait! The following camera settings are the ones that I use all the time during concert shoots, and I promise they’ll help you to get awesome concert photos.

1) Aperture vs. Manual Exposure Mode
I started in Aperture priority mode. In this mode, you tell your camera the aperture you want to use and the camera sets the shutter speed accordingly. This is a great option for a beginner to use because you’ll be stressed enough with all the other things going on around you. However, I soon recognized that only the manual mode would give me the flexibility I was looking for. I set aperture, shutter speed, and ISO and then change them on the fly using the internal exposure bar in the viewfinder.

2) Lowest Aperture Number
When deciding which lenses will work best for concert photography, you’ll always come to the same conclusion: use fast lenses and shoot them wide open. Set your aperture to the smallest number on your lens e.g. f1.8 (which reflects a big aperture). This allows the most possible light to enter your sensor and is a must-have setting in ultra low-light stage conditions. The best zoom lenses have an aperture of f2.8, the best prime lenses f1.4 or f1.8. For beginners on a budget, like I said before I suggest to get a 50mm f1.8, which is cheap and therefore a no-brainer for concert photography.

3) Fast Shutter Speed
Have you ever been to a concert where the artist was hyperactive jumping from one side of the stage to the other? To freeze these movements we have to use a fast shutter speed. In general, I set my shutter speed at 1/200 and faster. Otherwise, you risk blurred photos.

4) High ISO Values
ISO or film speed refers to the sensitivity of an analog film. Today the term is used for the sensitivity of your digital sensor. The higher the ISO setting the less light is needed for a proper exposure, but the more noise you will encounter in your pictures. Depending on the ability of your camera a good starting point is an ISO setting of 1600. If my shutter speed is too low at this setting, I will crank up the ISO setting to 3200 or 6400.

5) Spot Metering (using Aperture priority mode)
Set your camera’s internal light meter to spot metering. This takes a light reading limited to the center of your viewfinder. When shooting concerts, you will often find yourself in a situation where the artist is lit by a spotlight and the rest of the stage is almost dark. When using spot metering mode, place the artist’s face in the middle of your viewfinder and you’ll get the right exposure for it. When using the matrix (or evaluative) metering setting, the camera will take a light reading at several points in the scene and you’ll probably get overexposed faces if the background is dark.

6) Autofocus Point
On your camera, only use the most central focus point in low light situations. This will be the most accurate one. If you don’t always want to have the artist in the middle of the frame, you have to “recompose.” Simply push your shutter button halfway down to focus on the artist’s face. By holding the shutter button, you lock focus. Now move your viewfinder until you get the desired framing and push the shutter button fully down.

To use this technique, you have to set your camera to “Autofocus single” (AF-S) mode, otherwise the camera focuses continuously whilst you’re reframing your picture.

7) Auto White Balance
Use the auto white balance setting on your camera. The reason being is that I shoot in RAW format and can, therefore, adjust the white balance setting in post-production anyway.

8) Multiple Shot (Burst) Mode
Set your camera to multi-shot mode. It allows you to rapidly shoot three to four photos in a row (depending on the frames per second of your camera model). It’s more likely that at least one of the four photos is tack sharp whereas the others might not be in focus.

9) Never use flash
In general, you are not allowed to use a flash in concert photography. Imagine ten photographers burst their flashes at the same time. This would be quite annoying for the artist. Second, straight flash pictures don’t look awesome. So my tip is to learn the basics without using a flash.

10) RAW Format
Always shoot concerts in RAW format. If you shoot in JPEG mode, the camera’s internal computer adds contrast, saturation, and sharpness to your photos. These files look great when you open them on your computer, but don’t leave much freedom in post-production. If you shoot in RAW format, the camera does not process the photo at all. The advantage is that you can change parameters like exposure, white balance, saturation, contrast, clarity and so on afterward.

With these camera settings, you will be able to get great results when shooting in low light conditions such as concerts.

Summary
– Start in small clubs
– Get a crop sensor DSLR camera with an ISO setting of at least 6400
– Buy a 50mm f1.8 or 35mm f1.8 lens
– Use the camera settings from above
– Enjoy living your passion

Matthias Hombauer is the founder of How To Become A Rockstar Photographer, a platform that helps passionate people start living their dream as concert photographers. In his weekly HTBARP Podcast he is interviewing the worlds best music photographers who share their crazy story about their Rockstar life. You can follow him on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and LinkedIn.

Lightroom Presets: Killer Looks With Just One Click with Serge Ramelli
Lightroom presets are powerful tools for supercharging your workflow! Join Serge Ramelli as he demonstrates the steps he uses to create a variety of different presets that make photos look great in a single click. In this class you’ll learn how to make your own custom presets, how to apply them to different photos, how to create variations of your favorite presets, how to import presets you’ve downloaded, and much more. Develop presets are the fastest way to creating consistent looks across sets of photos, and once you start using them they can really change your Lightroom life.

In Case You Missed It
Time to learn everything else there is to know in Lightroom! Join Scott Kelby in this class designed to teach you a wide range of specific topics every Lightroom users needs to know. You can jump in on any topic that interests you and get up to speed on that aspect of Lightroom, and use this class as a go-to resource any time you need to expand your skill set even further. Maybe you need to know how to transfer a collection of photos from one computer to another, how to get the most out of the powerful Before and After options when editing, how to find any missing photos, or finally master Lightroom’s search feature. All these topics and more have been bundled into this first part of a multi-part series of classes, so pick the topic that interest you the most and dive right in!


I’m super excited about releasing my first post and I’m glad that it can be about this subject! This happens to be one of my top favorite things, mainly due to how spontaneous everything is. As you go through life as a creative you find out that a lot of your best work comes from when you just stop thinking and go for it. It’s even better when having muses who are up for any crazy lighting, open to different ideas and trying new things, it ends up as a perfect recipe for the magic to be made! A lot of times people aren’t willing to step outside of their comfort zone for the image, and most of the time that is what’s needed for a masterpiece.

The Set Up
I try to keep my settings and equipment around here when shooting my muses.

Equipment:

  • Canon 6D
  • Shutter: 1/125
  • F/: 5.6
  • ISO: 125
  • 70 – 200mm 2.8 Sigma
  • Lights: Elinchrom
  • (1) Portalite Elinchrom Square Softbox
  • (1) White Beauty Dish
  • (1) Snoot with  a red gel
  • (1) Reflector with another color gel
  • Neutral Density (optional)

I normally like my photos to have a lot of contrast in them. Using harsh lighting, I am able to create depth and clarity which makes it a little more tedious when it comes to retouching but worthwhile once the image is finished.

When using the square softbox, I position it as the key light, and the beauty dish is used for fill. I know that’s not very ideal at all, but creates exactly what I need. I also use the snoot with the red gel to cover the shadows with red. Sometimes you have to mix gels to get the proper color you want.

Lighting Example:

THE FINAL MOMENT!
Towards the end of my shoots, I always learn something new. By the end of the session, I may start creating slow shutter speed shots or playing with a different setup. When using colors and experimenting it’s welcomed. Don’t be afraid of not getting it right the first time, the second time, or the third time. Work at it until it’s almost perfect.

HOWEVER, to get back on point, I started creating shots with long exposure. It took a long time because with the method long exposure you have to make that everything is just right. That means everything from a steady camera to the camera settings, and all the way into lighting. Throughout trial and error and a little dizziness, I finally get the shot that I’m searching for.

You can see more of Donte’s work at DonteMaurice.com, and follow him on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.

Getting Up To Speed Fast in Adobe Photoshop CC 2018 with Scott Kelby
Get up to speed on Photoshop CC 2018! Join Scott Kelby as he goes through all of the new features added to this latest release. There’s something here for everybody. There are new features in Camera Raw, new ways to quickly share to social media, new ways to organize your brushes, improvements to the Pen Tool, cool technology previews, performance enhancements, and a whole lot more!

In Case You Missed It
Yesterday Scott Kelby and Erik Kuna had a live KelbyOne members-only webcast to answer your questions about the new versions of Photoshop and Lightroom! If you missed it, you can still watch and catch up to see if they answered questions you may have about the latest releases from Adobe. It is only available to KelbyOne members, but if you’re not a member you can sign up for a free trial and watch!

Never Stop Learning
What’s up everybody my name is Sebastian Bleak! I am an Adobe Community Professional and I create training videos for companies like Lynda.com, PluralSight, Astute Graphics and more, focusing on Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop. I’ve only been doing this for a couple years and I’ve been really lucky to work with companies that I’m a fan of and have a lot of respect for, in such a short time.

Prior to this I was working as a production manager at the best custom T-shirt shop in Los Angeles. Now that might sound like a cool title but when I first started out there, I didn’t know much about Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop but I thought I knew it all (LOL). Back in those days, I figured since I had the latest version of Photoshop, that meant I was producing the best product, right? Boy was I wrong!

One day I was working with a client at the t-shirt shop and they made a request on modifying some artwork. I tried to explain to them that “Illustrator doesn’t work that way.” So they asked if they could give it a try. I said “yes,” knowing they would fail. BUT they made the change that I thought was impossible.

I can’t begin to describe how embarrassed I was at that moment but today I’m extremely grateful. That experience told me that I had a lot of learning to do and it was the catalyst for this educational journey that I’m currently on.

The next day I decided I was going to learn everything there is to know about Illustrator and Photoshop, and I made sure everybody knew it. I even started wearing Adobe themed t-shirts and everything! My friend Gary Lockwood was the first one to introduce me to training videos. He challenged me to start a weekly blog where I would choose a new tool on Sunday, study that tool throughout the entire week, and then post a tutorial based on my findings at the end of the week.

He named my blog Never Stop Learning. I am now on week 325 of this project (when this was written) and I don’t plan on stopping anytime soon. Each week I’m posting a new video to my YouTube channel on what I’ve learned thought the week. I have a whole new respect for the software, and I’m proud of the fact that I study the tools of my trade the way maybe a carpenter or a blacksmith might have done generations ago by doing and asking questions.

I didn’t have a long-term goal other than to continue studying the software and to share the information with the design community. I started getting involved with every Adobe User Group meeting in Los Angeles, and they taught me how to use social media to expand my reach and it worked!

One day I received a private message on Twitter from Astute Graphics, all the way out in the UK. That private message got me my first gig as a Video Training Author, got me out of the T-shirt shop and changed my professional course forever. That was the first time I was being acknowledged by a big name company that I had a crazy amount of respect for. This was a sign that I could actually make a career out of something I was doing on this side, just for me, but was extremely passionate about. It was time to set new goals and dream bigger than ever before!

What’s crazy is that I never thought I’d be in this position. A couple years back, I barely knew anything about the software. Now I’m being referred to as an “Expert” in my field, but I see myself more as an enthusiastic student, happy to share his notes with the rest of the class. The thing that got me here was consistency by sticking with my weekly projects and studies. The more I learn, the more I’m able to do. The more I’m able to do, the more I’m looked at as an expert. What’s the take-away from all this? It’s to Never Stop Learning and share your journey with others!

Sebastian Bleak is a video trainer, software presenter, and instructor.

In his work as a trainer, Sebastian specializes in Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop, and boasts a strong background in t-shirt production. Professionally, he’s motivated by seeing a student’s “aha!” moment when they understand how a piece of software works, as well as by the investigation of how tools work together, and creating a specific style of design or combining methods to achieve a different look.

You can see more of his tutorials on his blog and YouTube channel, and follow him on Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, and Instagram.

Shooting & Compositing Commercial Projects with Tim Wallace
Join Tim Wallace as he takes you through his entire process, from planning through completing the final composite, of photographing an airplane for a commercial project. In this class you’ll learn how Tim approaches the job, the planning that goes into each element of the final image, what factors you need to keep in mind when shooting, and how Tim pulls it all together in post processing. Through each step in the process, Tim shares tips and techniques he’s learned and developed from years of shooting similar commercial transport projects all over the world.

In Case You Missed It
Want to learn how to photograph a car like a pro? Join Tim Wallace, a commercial photographer based in the UK, as he steps through the process of positioning, lighting and shooting a Ford Mustang convertible on location while providing real world tips along the way. It’s all about the angles, as you build up your lighting from the available light to however many strobes you need to achieve your desired result. Learn everything you need to know to ground the car in its environment and light it without it looking too lit.

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