A quick tip on how to set up a pocket camera for stage lighting situations.
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My sister was recently visiting in Texas and she was at a bar where there was a live band and she told me she would take pictures but everything would come out completely black every time. The flash was firing, everything seemed to be working just fine but the picture was very, very, very dark.
The reason for this is because the band was too far away and the flash didn’t help one bit. If your subject is farther than 10 or 12 feet, the flash won’t help. And because the flash is used, the camera was assuming that there would be enough light and it shows a fast shutter speed like 1/6 of a second which wasn’t enough for the ambient light that was in the scene.
So, she’s got a very similar camera to this. It’s a small pocketable, great little Canon camera. What you needed to do was actually turn off the flash because it’s not helping at all, it’s probably just destructing the band and increase the ISO to help the camera with the ambient light.
So basically, you can’t use the fully Automatic Mode so I’m going to have to press the Function button, get over to Manual and I’ll press Function again to escape that. Now that I’m in Manual, I can control my ISO, my flash, everything I need to. So the first thing, turn off the flash. Press the Flash button, choose Flash Off. And your camera it may not be here, it may be somewhere else but usually the Flash button is easily accessed.
Once the flash is turned off, I need to increase my ISO to compensate for the lack of light. Again remember, we’re in a bar and there’s a band on stage, there’s stage lighting but that’s not very bright at all so you need to press ISO and increase this. Initially, you’re not going to know what to increase it to but go with the high number like 800. You may need to increase that to 1600 but we’ll start with 800 because it does produce a little bit better quality than 1600.
Next is the White Balance. If you want to get a fun effect of the stage lighting color, for example if the stage lighting is very red and yellow and you want to see that in your picture, go at the Day Light White Balance. Press Function to access the White Balance. Again in your camera, if you’re using an icon Panasonic, Sony, anything else, your White Balance maybe somewhere else but it will always be somewhere in the camera so you just have to go and find it and choose Day Light. This will get the colors more accurate from those lights.
If it’s just a standard lighting, if they’re using just regular old tungsten lighting and you don’t want the yellowish glow in the light then go with tungsten. But usually stage lighting is multicolored so you’re not going to be able to white balance that to anything. So, just go with Day Light. Press Function to escape. Now, it’s gotten a flash turned off. My ISO is increased and my White Balance is set to Day Light.
Now, even with an 800 ISO, it’s probably going to be too dark. If you press the Shutter button halfway and you’ll notice that your shutter speed is below 130th of a second or 160th of a second, you probably won’t be able to handhold that shot. So, what you’re going to want to do is set the Timer Mode and set it down. The shutter speed could be as slow as a quarter of a second or even maybe a full second. It really depends on the lighting situation so you’re going to want to set your camera down either on the table. I assume you don’t have a tripod with you. So, what you can do is take a glass, flip it over, and set the camera on top of the glass. If you want to elevate the camera a little bit. On the edge of the table is also just fine.
So, to set the timer, just go ahead and choose your Drive settings. In this case, I’m going to go with a two second timer. I don’t need 10 seconds, I just need to be able to let go of the camera and allow it a second or two to stop shaking.
So now, I’ve got my timer set. My flash is turned off, my ISO is increased to 800 and my White Balance is set to Day Light. I’ll go ahead, press try and focus on the band and then press the Shutter button the rest of the way. Let go of the camera, have the camera sitting down on the table top, on the bar, on a glass, anything. Just make sure it doesn’t fall into the glass. And after two seconds, the picture will be taken. And the band maybe moving too fast and there’s really nothing you can do about that.
So, a quarter of a second shutter speed may get a well balanced exposure in terms of lighting but because the band is moving, things maybe a little bit blurry.
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