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01/23/2007 11:14:41 AM · #1
I'm a pretty new photographer, and I'm going to get the chance to photograph a school play. I'm not allowed to use flash, but I think I'm going to be able to set up a tripod. Can anyone give me any recommendations on ISO, aperture, etc?

I'm using a Canon Rebel 350, and I only have a kit lens, and a telephoto zoom lens which is so new that I've already forgotten its length(oops!)

Thanks for any advice,
01/23/2007 11:23:51 AM · #2
I would put the ISO up - Way up - Prob at least 800. Not too sure what the lighting will be like - Maybe not the greatest if it's at a school. You may also struggle a bit with the kit lenses as they are not going to be really fast. So for best results I would set your camera to Aperture priority at the widest possible setting or manual depending on your confidence levels - Also depending on what kit lenses you have prob about f4.5 or f4 on the telephoto. Also check your metering mode - I personally would take it off matrix metering (If that's what Canon has - I myself am Nikon) and put it on center weighted or spot. But this also depends on what type of lighting the school is running. Oh and don't forget to change your white balance - If you keep it on day light all your pics will be bright orange so just make sure you do a few checks when you start shooting. Best of luck. This sounds a lot to take in but with a few tests you will get there - Just hope the lights are bright enough for you.
01/23/2007 11:28:42 AM · #3
jblaylockrayner has some great advice, but I would HIGHLY reccomend shooting in RAW. There's going to be a variety of white balances needed, and that will give you the greatest flexibility. It might mean you need to purchase extra memory cards to compensate for the extra space, but it's completely worth the effort.

Other than that, if you can attend a dress rehearsal, do so, this will allow you to practice with the lighting conditions as they will be the same as the performance, you'll be able to evaluate your work, and adjust for the real thing.
01/23/2007 11:34:00 AM · #4
I agree 800 at least...anything less and your shutter speed will be way too slow...and think the one problem you will face will be DOF...
With your kit lens you will really have to try hard to find a close enough position for the shots to have any lasting impact..it would be best if you shot a rehearsal, or set up shots separately for each scene...shooting while the play is running can be quite distracting and ineffective...
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01/23/2007 11:45:50 AM · #5
You'll need to figure out what that zoom is rated at. If it's anything but a high-end lens with an f/2.8 aperture, you're going to have a hard time.

you'll need a monopod if you have to shoot from the sides and use the zoom, which is probably the case. Most directors (school play or not, wouldn't want you on the stage or distracting the audience.

If you have a slower lens (aperture) then you'll have to really try to get people when the action stops, and ideally be on a full tripod, or have strong monopod kung-fu.

This: ' . substr('//images.dpchallenge.com/images_portfolio/43031/thumb/457389.jpg', strrpos('//images.dpchallenge.com/images_portfolio/43031/thumb/457389.jpg', '/') + 1) . ' was taken on a tripod, at 300mm,f/5.6,1/60s, and I think the ISO was 800 or so. (Nikon is a little funny with the ISO EXIF info). Just so you know, the rule is pretty much 1/focal length for shutter speed. So here (as you multiply the focal length by 1.5 on APS cameras) I am at -3 stops on the shutter from where I would need to be handheld. I'm not aware of many people that have steady enough hands to handhold at 1/60 at (effectively) 450mm.

Going back to the f/ of the lens, if it is 2.8, then it will probably be a 70-200. F/2.8 is two stops wider open. The 70-200 would give you an effective 300mm and therefore a 1/300s shutter handheld. If you use my setting, two stops back up from 1/60s is 1/250s, which is cutting it close. Bumping up your ISO to 1600/3200 will give you a stop per, and allow for about 1/500s shutter. This just might give you the extra stop or two needed, depending on how steady your hands are, and freeze some action in the process.

If none of that made sense, look at this //www.photonhead.com/beginners/shutterandaperture.php

Message edited by author 2007-01-23 11:47:50.
01/23/2007 12:04:52 PM · #6
Don't be afraid of iso 1600, my 350D is fine (if printed 4x6) out of the camera. If you want larger prints or less noise in your digital then Neat Image or Noiseware will do wonders. I've done some ballet (not tripod or flash allowed) and the lighting is usually pretty good (although eckoe is right on about shooting raw because the lighting can vary greatly). If you shoot AV or TV try some -ec (exposure compensation) because I've noticed that (at least in my case) the subjects will be better lit than the background resulting in overexposed subjects. Of course if you follow jblaylockrayner's advice about metering you may not have to -ec.

Also don't forget panning...works great in ballet and you may have some opportunities in the play.
01/23/2007 12:26:23 PM · #7
I shoot a lot of theatre and always use tripod (monopod will not be adequate), spot metering, wide open aperture with fast lenses (f2.8). You will have to go high (1000 at least to get enough shutter speed to stop blur. You may even have to go to 1600 with the slower lens. As for WB, I have had my most consistant results using Incandescent, but once you take a few test shots, you will know. As someone else said, shoot raw to allow yourself the luxury of easy WB modification.

You will find that as you shoot more theatre, you will be able to anticipate places where there are pauses long enough to shoot.

Message edited by author 2007-01-26 16:16:17.
01/23/2007 01:49:26 PM · #8
I agree with all of these comments. I've tried to shoot the stage before and unless you can get a very large f-stop, it will be tricky - the lighting is TOUGH.

Thinking out of the box here - can you arrange to attend the final dress rehersal and use flash there? Evn if you can't use the flash, spending some time shooting in the production environment will teach you a lot about what can/can't be done with the lighting.
01/23/2007 04:18:15 PM · #9
Thank you to everyone who offered suggestions. I can see that I have my work cut out for me!

I cannot attend the dress rehearsal, unfortunately, as I work the same night, so I will have to try my best on a real night.

I need to read through these posts carefully - I understand most of what is said, but it's not all sinking in right away.

I will use RAW, and at least an ISO of 800, and a full tripod. I'm not very good at holding the camera steady.

I'll post back here to let you know how it went, and see if I can learn more from the experience. I guess you have to start somewhere!
01/23/2007 04:47:00 PM · #10
01/23/2007 04:56:16 PM · #11
Originally posted by tosk:

more from the experience. I guess you have to start somewhere!

Thats the spirit - If they do not work at least you know what to change for next time - Thats what it's all about - Good luck!
01/23/2007 07:03:00 PM · #12
I've been reading the posts more carefully, and I was hoping someone could explain something to me. I understand most of what was said about aperture and shutter speed, but I didn't understand this part:

"Just so you know, the rule is pretty much 1/focal length for shutter speed. So here (as you multiply the focal length by 1.5 on APS cameras) I am at -3 stops on the shutter from where I would need to be handheld. I'm not aware of many people that have steady enough hands to handhold at 1/60 at (effectively) 450mm."

If I wanted to handhold my telephoto zoom lens (Canon EF 75-300mm f/4.0-5.6 III), what is the minimum shutter speed to avoid camera shake? What about my kit lens (Canon EF-S 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 USM II)? How much difference does it make regarding how much I've zoomed in?

And, on a side note, what do the last numbers mean (4.0-5.6) on a lens?
01/23/2007 07:13:42 PM · #13
The last numbers mean the widest aperture the lens is capable of at it's longest zoom.

The 1/focal length is simpler than you think.
If you have your lens set to 70mm then your shutter speed should be 1/70 sec, at least.
01/29/2007 05:35:45 PM · #14
I wanted to update this thread to let everyone know how I got on with my play (actually a pantomine) photography.

It was a great experience, although it was just as hard as I was warned - and I discovered what you mean by having a slow lens (which is definitely what I have). I was glad to be able to use a tripod! I had the ISO at 1600 for a while, but discovered I could get away with 800 for most of the evening. I sometimes had a trouble with motion blur because my shutter speed was too low. And people sure do move a lot!

I still have difficulty figuring out what is really in focus. I used manual focus for many of my shots, but sometimes discovered that I had focused on the wrong thing.

Here are a couple of examples of shots I took at the pantomine. I've applied neatimage to them (perhaps too much?) and did a little work with curves, although I'm far from understanding how to use that tool well. On that topic, does anyone have any suggestions for good tutorials on curves for beginners?

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01/29/2007 06:12:35 PM · #15
Not really a tutorial, but what may be some useful examples are in thise pBase gallery.

The DPC tutorial on Duotones may help point you in the right direction as well.
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