Concert Photography with the Canon 5D Mark III

When I decided to upgrade from the Canon 7D to the Canon’s 5D Mark III. It was strictly a business decision. One that would hopefully  take my studio and event photography to the next level. Never once did I ever consider it becoming my everyday, every occasion camera. However, with my wife urging me to trade in the old model. I was left with little to no choice. So within a week of purchase and two studio sessions knocked out. I carefully took my fresh out the box Canon to a local music venue and shot some imaages of my favorite local and touring bands. With thec 5D not featuring a pop up flash like the 7D. I brought along my Canon 320 EX external flash and experimented with bouncing the light in different directions. The results were rewarding, to say the very least. Attempting and successfully working with a completely different set of tools felt amazing. As I’ve always felt somewhat of a sense of fear that I might fall short when trying to adapt to new things. Below is a sample of a shot I took of Shakusky’s Kira Mattheson. I’ve also included a like to one of my music sites where I’ve featured sets from each of the bands that played that night. Document Fanzine . Rock On.


Concert Lighting, Flash and Lenses.

Canon 50mm 1.4 (w/o flash)

Though I would love to shoot all my concert photos without the distraction of flash the lens I normally use (Canon 15mm Wide USM) simply does not give me the speed I need to get the sharpness a lot of my work requires. A couple of years back I did a little research and found that Canons 50mm 1.4 had the speed I needed to get the job done. However, the fact that the bulk of my concert shots are taken in small to medium venues made for a lot of really tight shots. In bars and taverns such as Maxwells those tight crops were more like head shots.

Canon 50mm 1.4 (w/o flash)

So over the past weeks I did my share of tests with both the Canon 50mm 1.4 and the Canon 15mm Wide Angle USM. Shooting on Manual Mode and changing the settings  to adjust to the light I was able to produce some interesting results. While using the wide angle approach I was able to get right in the eye of the storm and get some interesting and artistic results. Though most were blurred and disposable,  I did find some keepers amongst the ruins. The next night I played around with the 50mm 1.4 and though I was able to get crisp image after crisp image, the distance from which I shot made me feel more like a bystander. There was really no comparing as far as I was concerned.  Although shooting without flash adds a sense of intimacy and storytelling to my images. I felt the wide angle clearly gave me a the exaggerated vibe I want in my work. It gave me a sense that I was right in the middle of the action as opposed to the bystander element that the former produced. I’d love to hear from other concert photographers about their experiences and approach. I’m always looking to experiment and try different things as I move towards creating my own style. I look forward to the challenge.

Canon 15mm wide angle (w/o flash)

Adding Color to my Concert Photos

I’ve shot countless shows for various media outlets over the years. I absolutely love being in front of the stage trying to capture that note, emotion or moment. As in my studio work I  almost exclusively shoot B&W. It’s my personal choice. Working in that trade I’ve tried to learn from the best while applying my own style. I am constantly checking in on work on various websites and music media outlets. I have to shake my head when I see a lot of the work that’s published and considered professional. I’ve seen more than my share of burnt out, unfocused, blurry and over exposed images. Most of which are in the form of color. I never want to disrespect any one’s work or approach and I  fully understand the challenge of working with certain lighting issues including “No Flash” policies. A lot of what I’ve seen has scared me away from shooting color at shows.

Well, I’ve grown some cojones along the way and forced my self to see what I was missing. I’ve incorporated color into my show images and though I’ve found some challenges along the way, there was nothing that a little adjusting of the flash, your vantage point or a little post production won’t cure. “Watch out for those hot spots.” I still scratch my head when I see these images and wonder, sometimes aloud, how this is accepted and why an editor would even approve it for copy. That instruction book that came with your camera goes a long way when learning your cameras functions.