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.
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.
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.
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.