Commack High School Spring Concert 1
Commack’s first concert of the spring season certainly came up quickly. Something for everyone in this one - guitar ensemble, orchestra, men’s choir and band. Great job by all!
The variation in light is always a challenge in photographing high school concerts. The stage lighting is usually pretty good. At Commack, I can use an ISO of 5000 and pretty much get shutter speeds of anywhere from 1/60 to 1/125 sec. at an aperture of f/5.6 when using my 100-400mm lens with image stabilization. When you have ensembles on the floor in front of the stage, however, the amount of light can change dramatically, especially if they’re only lit by house lights.
For the guitar ensemble and men’s choir I set my ISO at 12,800 to get a shutter speed of only 1/20 sec. at the same f/5.6 aperture. ISO 12,800 on just about any camera produces noticeable digital noise so noise reduction in post-processing is usually required. Using a shutter speed of only 1/20 sec. requires that you, and the subjects, be absolutely still to prevent motion blur. This may seem impossible with musicians and singers but there are two tricks you can use. First, use some sort of stabilization. This can be a monopod or any solid object you can rest your camera against, or it can be image stabilization built into your lens or camera body. Second, wait for the long notes. When musicians play, or singers sing, long notes often they don’t move as much if at all, and that’s the time to take the photo. Obviously, it helps to know when the long notes are coming but, even if you’re not familiar with the piece, you should be able to figure it out after hearing the first third of it.
Even with these tricks you’re going to get some motion blur no matter what. Not all the singers will be motionless. Strings players have to move their arms to play the note. Likewise for the hands of the guitarists. None of this is a big deal as long is there faces, and more importantly, their eyes are sharp.
Hope this helps. Any questions, leave me a comment or fill in the contact form. That’s it for this post. Have fun.