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Nightmare but cool lighting

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    I am just getting back into photography and have recently delved into digital. I am currently using a point and shoot Panasonic DMC-LZ5S. For outdoor shots I could not be happier with a point and shoot. The image stabilization option is wonderful.

    My problem is with indoor photography. I have played with many of the settings and for the most part get pretty decent pics. However, I have been recently shooting an open mic at a local coffee shop and have run into lighting nightmares. The performers stand in front of a window that has street lamps and a huge old style theater marquee over it. To top it all off, there are currently Christmas lights and a tree light with all white lights inches behind the performers. There is little comparative light shining on them. I am trying to capture the great feel of the room without shining lights into the performer?s faces, which they hate. I am also trying to avoid flash because from experience I can tell you it is very distracting when trying to perform.

    My pictures of the surroundings are well lit but the performers are often dark if not black against the background. I have used the night sky setting to get some neat blur effects but not great for good action shots.

    Any advice, while taking or afterwards using gimp?


    From what your telling me (us) then you ‘would’ be happier with a DSLR. If you can control the shutter speed then set it higher to control the ambient light while using the flash. In this case you’ll be able to lower the harsh lighting to a respectful level. Is there any way you could post a picture as an example? You know, they do say 1000 words.


    On most point and shoot cameras a half click on the shutter button will set the aperture/shutter speed based on what the camera is pointing at so you can point the camera at something darker, push the button halfway down, and then aim it at your target and take a shot. This will probably make the outside lights really bright but you can probably fix that a little by decreasing the constrast or dodging the lights in gimp.(someone else can probably give you more ideas or better directions on what to do in gimp than I can)


    Although I do like the way this came out this is a great example of the artist being overpowered by the background lighting. I want that feeling of the tree but i would like to get the warm detail extended to the artist

    A great shot of the background lighting. Even without the tree off to the right is an old marquee that often floods the background.

    So you can see how the artist are lost to the background unless i give the tone a weird exposure that makes it blurry and red. Although cool in its own way not always what i want.


    How about letting the background be over-exposed?


    No exif data?

    I can’t tell if the flash fired but I’m going to assume it didn’t, at least not all the time. Am I wrong?

    It looks like you need a slightly faster shutter and a fill flash. That’s all.


    i’m just going to copy/paste some tips from a pal who does a lot of concert shooting:

    yep, ISO max, try setting exposure +.7 (ymmv), and do brackets of +1/N/-1 (or .7 etc). Usually 1 out of the 3 will be sharp, and the overexposed might have something cool looking. Big memory card! Best to not be watching how full your card is; a 1GB always lasts a full set.

    Stage Lights. Watch for cycles & wait for the bright yellows or colors that look good & intense. Proximity can help even if lighting’s mellow. Use the stage/monitors to stabilize. I don’t use ‘image stabilization’ in the camera.

    If you know the music (and so does the lighting guy), or get a feel for it, be ready at dramatic peaks for brights. End of song* is usually primetime visually. Standing to the side of a performer often gives bonus light reflecting off guitars/bald heads 😉

    Plus that avoids clown-nose microphone shots. Singers stay close on the mic usually, so to get their mouths/smiles wait for that breath between verses. I know faces are important, but I usually use the ‘grid’ of a guitar’s fretboard as a sharp focusing point, hold & adjust my framing. A microphone’s screen is usally good for focusing as well, but then people move…

    You can also do alot post-shoot. Cropping, re-sizing (especially if just for the web). Also grainy shots – just bring the gamma down. If the subject starts to disappear bright/contrast should work at that point, but usually shots turn nice & moody.

    I do the rear-sync & slow flash when I’m desperate for light, or the lights are so crazy I know I’ll get something good & trippy with a frozen subject. If the flash washes out faces I’ve started de-saturating the whole pic about 70-80%: it ends up mostly black & white, with the super-saturated colors remaining as soft tints.


    also, don’t know if gimp has dodge and burn tools i think you could get better results using them – maybe on a separate layer?

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