Concert Photography 101 : Basic Camera Settings

22 01 2010

Death By Stereo : Yucca Tap Room / Tempe, AZ
Taking great photos at concerts has everything to do with knowing how to use the proper settings on your camera. I don’t care if you are shooting with a $750 camera or a $7,500 camera. If you don’t know how to use it under specific concert circumstances – you will not get the shot.

Before the show there are a couple of things I think about. Have I ever seen a show at this venue before? What access restrictions do I have? Is there a photo pit? These questions all lead up to the final question: What is the lighting like at the venue?

Light dictates all of my decisions regarding camera settings.

ISO: The simplest definition of ISO is the measure of film’s sensitivity to light. In digital photography ISO measures the digital sensor’s sensitivity to light. (For a complete explantion: click here)

I set my ISO to the lowest available setting that produces a properly lit image. I don’t like to shoot at ISO 1600+ because of the noise or extra grain in the photo. With that being said – there are situations where it can not be avoided.

How Do I Know What ISO Setting Is Right? There are two ways to quickly determine ISO settings – Test shots or live view. Use your camera’s live view mode to see when you need to push (increase) the sensor’s speed. Live view is helpful to confirm settings before and during all my concert shoots.

Shutter Speed and Lens Aperture: As I mentioned in my previous Concert Photography 101 post, before I was comfortable shooting in manual mode I relied on TV (or shutter priority mode.)

Why? For most venues I tend to max out my lens’ aperture at 1.8 or 2.8 – so there is very little thinking about aperture. When shooting in shutter priority the aperture is automatically adjusted by the internal light meter (we’ll get into metering in the next post) as I alter the shutter speed. Again use your camera’s live view function to preview the photograph. It’s typical for me to change shutter speeds as the stage lights change. Often I go from 1/125 to 1/45 during one or two songs.

These three things (ISO, Aperture and Shutter Speeds) are the simplest way to get on the right path to taking good concert photos. I suggest you practice at your house and get a feel for how your camera reacts to different light. A good experiment is to turn on all the lights in a room – take a couple of photos with different settings. Do the same with medium and dim light. Review the photos and document the settings. Why would you wait until the night of the event to experiment?

If you visit my Flickr gallery you can view my camera settings for every photo posted – take advantage of this information and get a feel for what settings you’ll need at the next show.

As always, I want to know how you do things – leave a comment and share some of your knowledge with everyone.

To view my complete photography portfolio please visit www.grtaylor2photo.com

GRT2 Self Portrait July 2009





FOCUS : New Photography Web Series

20 01 2010

Here’s a quick preview of my new web series that starts next week! If you are a photographer or an artist and you have a specific photo or project you want highlighted please contact me via email. GRT2





Why Watermark or Brand Your Photos

18 01 2010

Casey Moore's Bike Rack : Tempe, AZ
No one likes to get ripped off and no one wants to feel cheated – I don’t care who you are.

Question: Do you host your images on popular photo sharing sites like Flickr or Facebook? If you answered yes and you do not take a moment to brand or watermark your photos you are running the risk of having your images stolen.

The topic of this post started with a question asked by my friend Devon. He asked if I could address the pros and cons of watermarking or branding self published photos. Thanks, great subject for discussion.

CONS

Aesthetics: If you are not strategic with the placement and size of the watermark or branding it may take away from the image. When placing a watermark, copyright line or logo make sure it doesn’t draw the viewer’s eye away from the subject and screw with the composition. The perception of the value of the photo to a prospective client can be lessened if you are not careful with placement.

After giving it much thought this is the only con I see when when it comes to this topic.

PROS

The list of pros far outweigh the cons. For starters, people will know who took the photo and subsequently who owns its rights. If you include  simple things like the copyright year and your website (or wherever your portfolio can be seen) it tells the viewer how old the photo is and where they can see more of your work. As photographers I believe it is our responsibility to make things as easy as possible for clients to get the information they need.

Another reason to brand your photos falls under the lines as the second point – properly branded photos will increase traffic to your websites.

Personally, I prefer a branding line over a watermark that covers up the image. Although a watermark is harder to delete and photoshop out of an image, aesthetically it’s horrid. I use a simple two line branding mark that includes my website and the copyright date. (I know that in some cases this can be cropped out and removed but after giving it some thought I’m ok with taking that risk to preserve the integrity of the photograph.)

HOW TO BRAND A PHOTO

Here is a simple overview of how I brand my photos. I process my photos in Aperture and after I make my adjustments I export the image to a work in progress folder. From here I will open the exported file in photoshop, open my .psd branding file and drag it on top of the photo. After I give placement careful thought and consideration I save the file. I will then import the altered file back into Aperture and stack the native image with the branded image (in Aperture stacking allows me to view thumbnails of the photos I use.) The last step is publishing the photograph to the platform of my choice.

My .psd branding mark is comprised of white text on a transparent background. (Download my branding mark and alter it with your own text by clicking here.)

How do you handle branding your photographs and watermarks? Leave a comment and let’s discuss…

To view my complete photography portfolio please visit www.grtaylor2photo.com

GRT2 Self Portrait July 2009





Be Back Tomorrow

7 01 2010

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I planned on starting my Concert Photography Series tonight but that will have to wait until tomorrow. Thx





Declaration for 2010 – New Year’s Resolutions are for Failing

30 12 2009

Greg Taylor & Kristina : Spring Training Baseball 2009 I don’t believe in New Year’s resolutions. Resolutions unconsciously set you up for failure and who wants to fail. Not me.

Let’s face it 2009 was a rough year for everyone – but I can still count the many blessings that 2009 brought me.

2009 was the year I got my health in order and discovered what was really important. (Sidenote: I got fired – not layed off, straight up canned in November 2008 for some BS. Yep, I got fired from a job I freaking hated every minute of. I was bummed for maybe 20 minutes and then this amazing feeling came over me – FREEDOM. I traveled for four months off and on rediscovered my hapiness.) Money, material things and the like are cool – but in 2009 I set my priorities right. I’m no longer chasing pipe dreams and bar plans. That doesn’t mean I don’t have goals and aspirations but they are more aligned with the bigger picture.

That brings us to my Declarations for 2010. These are things that I focus on during the next year.

HEALTH: I will continue my pursuit of fitness. I will continue my pursuit of clean eating. I will continue my adopted vegetarian lifestyle. I will limit unnecessary late nights and make sure that I listen to what my body needs.

PHOTOGRAPHY: I will continue to make pictures at every opportunity. I will continue my pursuit to being the best photographer I can. I will have an exhibit in August for my 40th birthday. I will continue my informal study of the masters of photography. I will continue my pursuit of knowledge by asking questions, answering questions and discussing photography with others.

PERSONAL: I will continue to be a friend and a trusted confidant. I will continue my pursuit of being the best person I can. I will make sure that I tell the people in my life how grateful I am for their love, friendship and support. I will engage in off-line social activities in Tempe / Phoenix with the great people of Social Media in AZ (I will let myself be known to everyone in person rather than in 140 characters.)

PROFESSIONAL: I will continue to hone my craft and ward off complacency at every turn. My focus will be on achieving results that help my clients move toward their goals. I will continue to be a conduit of information, ideas and creativity.

There it is – posted to live forever. Here’s a question to anyone who reads this and to everyone: What are you going to do in 2010?

To view my complete photography portfolio please visit:www.grtaylor2photo.com





Declaration for 2010 – New Year's Resolutions are for Failing

30 12 2009

Greg Taylor & Kristina : Spring Training Baseball 2009 I don’t believe in New Year’s resolutions. Resolutions unconsciously set you up for failure and who wants to fail. Not me.

Let’s face it 2009 was a rough year for everyone – but I can still count the many blessings that 2009 brought me.

2009 was the year I got my health in order and discovered what was really important. (Sidenote: I got fired – not layed off, straight up canned in November 2008 for some BS. Yep, I got fired from a job I freaking hated every minute of. I was bummed for maybe 20 minutes and then this amazing feeling came over me – FREEDOM. I traveled for four months off and on rediscovered my hapiness.) Money, material things and the like are cool – but in 2009 I set my priorities right. I’m no longer chasing pipe dreams and bar plans. That doesn’t mean I don’t have goals and aspirations but they are more aligned with the bigger picture.

That brings us to my Declarations for 2010. These are things that I focus on during the next year.

HEALTH: I will continue my pursuit of fitness. I will continue my pursuit of clean eating. I will continue my adopted vegetarian lifestyle. I will limit unnecessary late nights and make sure that I listen to what my body needs.

PHOTOGRAPHY: I will continue to make pictures at every opportunity. I will continue my pursuit to being the best photographer I can. I will have an exhibit in August for my 40th birthday. I will continue my informal study of the masters of photography. I will continue my pursuit of knowledge by asking questions, answering questions and discussing photography with others.

PERSONAL: I will continue to be a friend and a trusted confidant. I will continue my pursuit of being the best person I can. I will make sure that I tell the people in my life how grateful I am for their love, friendship and support. I will engage in off-line social activities in Tempe / Phoenix with the great people of Social Media in AZ (I will let myself be known to everyone in person rather than in 140 characters.)

PROFESSIONAL: I will continue to hone my craft and ward off complacency at every turn. My focus will be on achieving results that help my clients move toward their goals. I will continue to be a conduit of information, ideas and creativity.

There it is – posted to live forever. Here’s a question to anyone who reads this and to everyone: What are you going to do in 2010?

To view my complete photography portfolio please visit:www.grtaylor2photo.com





Not just Another 2009 List – It’s My List

23 12 2009

Yes it’s that time of year again…Everyone reflects about the previous twelve months and compiles a list. Some lists are made of resolutions – but not mine. This list isn’t just another Top 10 List – It’s my list. It’s my list of more things that I want more of in 2010!

Best Movie: The Hangover – one of the funniest movies I’ve ever seen in a theater. No, I’ve never passed out and been face to face with Mike Tyson’s tiger. (Sorry if you were living under a rock and didn’t see the movie and I spoiled it for you.) I have however gone on a bender and woke up the next day and wondered what the hell happened and who do I need to apologize to?

Best Concert or Live Show: This was a close one but after really thinking about it – It’s Rusted Root and Crowfield at The Marquee Theater in Tempe.

It’s been years since I’ve seen Rusted Root and honestly if their PR Agency hadn’t given me photo access I wouldn’t have gone. It would have been my loss. The band sounds just as good as ever. Another thing about this show was the opening band Crowfield from Charleston, SC. Crowfield is band on the verge of getting popular. (Check them out on iTunes or wherever.) I bought their disc and it’s in constant rotation in my car.

Favorite Travel Spot of 2009: Boise, ID. We went to see friends in Boise on our way to Yellowstone National Park and The Grand Tetons in Jackson Hole, WY. I had never been to Boise before and didn’t know what to think. I was amazed. It’s a great small city that reminds me a lot of Denver only smaller and a little like Tempe but only larger.

Non Music Related Event: The Redneck Olympics on the Mogollon Rim. Buy me a beer sometime and I’ll tell you the stories. (Maybe.)

Favorite Restaurant: This category had to be broken into two – lunch and dinner.

Lunch: Green New American Vegetarian in Tempe – Awesome food, great prices, fantastic value. (Four Peak Brewery in Tempe is a very close second.)

Dinner: Mucho Gusto Mexican Bistro in Tempe – Our favorite place and some of the best Mexican in the Valley.

Favorite Bar: TT Roadhouse (68th St. & Thomas) Cold drinks reasonably priced and the best jukebox in Phoenix hands down. Some of the patrons may look a little rough around the edges but everyone there is good people. Grab a drink, drop some coins in the jukebox and settle in for a heated game of darts. (Note: TT stands for Tortoise Trophy – a motorcycle race in England.)

Best TV Show: I don’t watch much TV at all. My choice has been off the air for a while but it was something I found in 2009 and since this is my list here it is: The Wire. If you’ve never watched the wire. Get all six seasons on Netflix, lock yourself in a room and watch them all. Awesome.

Favorite Book: Tribes by Seth Godin. Stop fearing criticism and start leading.

Favorite Song: Again it’s my list so I’m going to pick a song I really liked in 2009 that is actually from 1997. Triburay Otis – Otis is track one from The Refreshments (now Roger Clyne and The Peacemakers) second album Bottle and Fresh Horses. Sometime older is a little better than the new and Otis always sounds great live.

So there it is – my list of 2009 stuff. I know there will be people who disagree with me and think I’m wrong. Let me know how wrong I am via comment but remember – this is my list…