Join Ben Long for an in-depth discussion in this video Introduction, part of Foundations of Photography: Night and Low Light.
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There are a lot of different kinds of performance shoots. You might, for example, need to shoots your daughter's ballet performance or your son's orchestra performance, or maybe a presentation at work of some kind. Anytime you got someone on a stage delivering material to an audience in front of them, you are looking at a performance shoot. If you are indoors, you are probably looking at a low-light situation, and is most likely a very tricky low-light situation, because you are going to have a bright stage with dark all around it and dark in front of it. That makes for some really tricky exposure, and you are going to need to employ some very particular strategies. We are going to look at those strategies in this chapter, along with everything else related to performance shooting, because we are going to actually shoot a performance here.
We are at the Bayfront Theater at Fort Mason in San Francisco, and tonight we are going to see and shoot a performance by Bay Area Theatresports, an improv company that's been working in San Francisco for over 25 years. We are here early because we have gone to the work of getting access to the company ahead of time. This is a really good thing to do if you need to shoot a performance, because, first of all, it allows you to get in the venue and check things out. I can see the size of the stage. I can see I have got poles here that are going to maybe make sightline problems. I can start thinking about where I might want to sit.
More importantly, I can maybe get permission to shoot some things that I wouldn't normally get to shoot in a performance, such as a rehearsal or sound check. Being able to shoot sound checks and rehearsals gives you a level of access that allows you to get shots that you are simply not going to get from a chair in the audience. For example, I will be able to move around the audience without--or move around the auditorium without disturbing the audience. I can maybe get up on stage if they allow me and get some angles that I certainly couldn't get from a chair here in the auditorium. Another reason to establish contact early is simply to be sure that you have permission to shoot.
You have probably been in performances already and had been told at the beginning, "no pictures" or "no flash pictures" or something like that. So before you shoot any type of performance, you need to get permission, and know that it's all always the company that can give you permission; sometimes it's the venue itself. It might be a union building that doesn't allow just any photographer to come in and shoot. We are going to talk next about some of the decisions that you want to make when you walk right into the auditorium, and whether those decisions happen because you have gotten access ahead of time or because you have had to walk in with the rest of the audience and quickly decide where to sit and what to do, doesn't matter, these are critical, strategic, tactical decisions that you have to make, and we will look at those in the next movie.
Ben also shows how to obtain accurate color balance in tungsten and fluorescent lighting situations, and how to postprocess the images in Photoshop to remove noise caused by higher ISO settings. He also demonstrates accessories that can greatly expand your low-light photography options.
- Understanding how low light affects exposure, shutter speed, color temperature, and more
- Preparing for a low-light shoot
- Shooting in dimly lit rooms
- Using the flash indoors
- Shooting in the shade
- Taking flash portraits at night
- Controlling flash color temperature
- Focusing in low light
- Light painting
- Manipulating long shutter speeds
- Correcting white balance
- Brightening shadows
- Sharpening and noise reduction