Concert Photography Tips: Low ISO Film at Night


In this article, I'll teach you how to take sharp photos in low-light conditions using a simple point-and-shoot camera loaded with slow-speed film.

Photographing a music event at night is always problematic. If you use a high-speed film like the Ilford Delta 3200 or Kodak T-MAX 3200 you will get a very grainy negative, and this is not acceptable if you want to show the musicians' facial expressions. You may also use a medium-speed film (400 ISO, for example) pushing it by one or two stops. In this case, the grain will be slightly less evident, but the push procedure will have increased the contrast between shadow and light. It's also likely that you'll get poor greyscale tones, with white and black zones devoid of details.

Shot using Ilford HP5+ and Lomo LC-Wide. Credits: sirio174

At the 2015 Swing Crash Festival in Como, I used the medium-speed film Ilford HP5 Plus. The ultra-wide angle lens of my camera (Lomo LC-Wide) made it easier for me to shoot without a tripod. I hand-held the camera, tightening my elbows against my sides and pressing the gear slightly against my forehead. Though shutter speed is about 1/10 of a second, the pictures are sharp and without motion blur.

Shot using Ilford FP4 Plus and Olympus XA2 camera. Credits: sirio174

For the other shots, I used a 100 ISO film, the classic Ilford FP4 Plus, with my Olympus XA2 camera. The shutter speed is below 1/8 of a second. This required me to place the camera on the bandstand. To control the contrast, I developed the film with a little agitation of the tank and with a diluted developing liquid (Rodinal R09 at a concentration of 1 + 50). I am very pleased with the sharpness and rich tones of the photos.

Shot using Ilford FP4+ and Olympus XA2 camera. Credits: sirio174

One last tip: Be mindful of movement. I didn't press the shutter when the musicians were nodding or shaking their heads. Active arms and legs may be tolerable but a moving face is almost always unpleasant on print.

This article was written by Community Member sirio174.

written by sirio174 on 2015-08-10 #gear #tutorials #night #festival #summer #swing #tipster #jazz #italy #low-iso #como #requested-post

Mentioned Product

Lomo LC-Wide

Lomo LC-Wide

Capture your life in wide angle with the world's widest 35mm compact camera with a 17mm ultra-wide-angle lens.

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  1. kimmiechem2
    kimmiechem2 ·

    Nice tips & great photos!

  2. she_likes_hair_bands
    she_likes_hair_bands ·

    Thanks for the tips! Really like the first photo :)

  3. she_likes_hair_bands
    she_likes_hair_bands ·

    Thanks for the tips! Really like the first photo :)

  4. edwardconde
    edwardconde ·

    Sweet gotta try this and try out the lc-Wide!!

  5. jvujnovi
    jvujnovi ·

    I like to do night photography & these tips are just what I needed.

  6. wvitalityh
    wvitalityh ·

    Really great shots. I shot some concerts in the 70s and 80s on film of course. You couldn't push film to the extremes of 3200 or 6400. Well you could, but it didn't look so good. Tri-X after 1600 looked like a subject had a skin disease. Digital cameras and these great new fast stabilized lenses that didn't exist back then makes for so many fun ways to capture these events

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