Commack High School Spring Concert IV
Final concert of the year, this time the 11th and 12th graders, and another excellent one. Gotta love the chorale's rendition of Bohemian Rhapsody.
I've already covered dealing with low light situations, such as high school concerts, in previous posts so I thought I'd discuss the topic of dynamic range in this one. If you've photographed concerts before, or any situation with high-contrast light, you've probably come to the realization that the dynamic range of your camera (its ability to capture both bright highlights and dark shadows and still maintain detail) is much lower than that of your eyes. If you expose to keep details in the highlights your shadows are completely black. If you expose for details in the shadows your highlights are blown out (completely white with no detail).
Different cameras have different dynamic ranges so you'll have to experiment with your particular camera body to see when you reach your limits. Your camera probably has a histogram in the viewfinder that can help with this somewhat. You may also be able to turn on what's called "the blinkies", a highlight warning indicator in your viewfinder that causes any blown out areas of your photo to blink. The idea is to find the exposure that looks best for you in a given situation. The emphasis here is on "you". Some people would rather block up their shadows than blow out highlights (myself included, most of the time) and others prefer a high-key look. It also can depend upon your subject. Fashion shots sometimes look better slightly overexposed (high-key) while concert shots usually look better with heavy shadows.
For this concert I'm exposing to prevent the skin tones from blowing out. Other highlights, specifically on the musical instruments, are specular highlights and should be blown out, so I'm not really worried about those. Exposing for the skin tones this way, a lot of shadows will be blocked up. I'm shooting in raw so some of the shadows can be recovered in post but the darkest ones can't, which is fine with me. Granted, some of the musicians/singers under the brightest lights will be very bright (but not completely blown out) and you won't be able to do much about this in post but that's show biz. If these were landscapes or architecture photos you could shoot multiple exposures at various exposure settings and post-process them as an HDR photo but since there are moving bodies in these photos, you'd end up with a blurry mess.
The bottom line is to experiment with your camera and see what works. Eventually you'll be able to get close to the best exposure in any given lighting situation.
That's it for this concert season. Next up is Tennis with the Teachers next week, assuming it ever stops raining.