Commack High School Spring Concert IV
Excellent concert by the 11th and 12th graders. Maybe it was my imagination but the band and orchestra looked huge this year. I had to take a few more photos than usual just to cover them all. For this post I thought I'd cover a worst-case scenario. What do you do if you're ready to photograph your kid at the concert, the group comes out on stage and you find your kid is sitting in a spot with the least amount of light on the stage. It happens. Most schools don't have enough lights to evenly cover the entire stage, especially when they have to split some of them to cover risers for the chorus in front of the stage.
This is the time for a "Hail-Mary" play. First, it helps if you have one or all of the following - - a lens long enough to reach your kid. - a lens with a wide aperture (f/2.8 or wider would be nice). - a camera that can handle high ISO's without generating excessive noise. - either in-lens or in-camera stabilization (called IS, OS or VR depending on your camera manufacturer).
First, open the aperture on your lens as wide as possible. Next, set the ISO as high as possible; you need to figure out this setting for your specific camera make and model depending on the amount of noise generated at a given ISO setting. Make sure your image stabilization is on. If your camera has a "quiet" mode, turn it on. If you're shooting with a mirrorless camera use the electronic shutter rather than the mechanical shutter and turn off the shutter beep.
When you've done all of the above the only setting left to adjust your exposure is the shutter speed. Start lowering the shutter speed until you get a proper exposure. You'll probably find that the correct shutter speed is discouragingly low. That's show biz. Just hold your camera as stable as possible and slowly squeeze off some shots. If your camera has a quiet mode put it in continuous shutter mode and shoot in bursts of 3 shots each (you'll probably find that the middle shot is sharper than the other two). Have a look at your photos. If you find that you absolutely can't get a decent shot because of motion blur, raise the ISO so you can increase the shutter speed. It's better to have a noisy photo than a blurry photo.
Of all the suggestions listed above you'll get the most bang for the buck with some sort of in-camera or in-lens stabilization. In this gallery, frame 959 was shot at 1/8 sec. with the lens at 400mm on an APS-C sensor camera (that's a full-frame 600mm equivalent). It's definitely not going to win any prizes but it shows what you can do under extremely dark lighting situations with a lens with stabilization.
Good luck and have fun.