A couple of days before Christmas I was offered the opportunity to Photograph a cabaret evening at a local venue – now this is not something I would normally shoot but I knew one of the acts personally and so took up the offer.
The venue seats around 200, reasonably large enough I thought to have plenty of light on stage so that I could get some good shots without going to too high an ISO setting.
Upon arrival I was shown to my shooting area, actually on stage – great – going to be able to get some good shots – I thought
There was some lighting on the stage when I arrived, but this was just a 40watt lightbulb (it wasn’t really, but the light wasn’t much brighter!). I went and asked the sound engineer when they would turn the “proper lighting” on and my heart sunk when he said the 40watt lightbulb was it.
When shooting in dimly lit clubs and other venues its important to have the right gear with you. Especially important is the type of lens, a fast lens is usually accepted to be at minimum a f 2.8 aperture and even faster lenses are available, 1.8. 1.4 and even 1.2.
Coupled with a fast lens you ideally need a camera body that is able to shoot in low light conditions at reasonably high ISO settings. Most modern cameras of today are capable of shooting at high ISO and with a little post processing acceptable results can be easily achieved.
When I got back to my shooting point I set up my body and attached my 24-70mm 2.8 lens – as I was close to the action this lens gave me the flexibility of being able to shoot at wider angles and also to get up close and shoot tight if needed. I’m a manual shooter, the only parameter I let the camera decide what to set for me is the ISO – I set auto ISO to “On” and this meant that I could manually set the aperture and shutter speed and the auto ISO feature of my particular body will adjust the ISO (within certain parameters) to enable a correct exposure.
With my lens wide open (f2.8) and my shutter set to 1/100 and with the 40watt stage light set up in place I was shooting at ISO 12,800 on occasions. It really is a testament to the technology available today for it was not that many years ago that shooting at ISO 800-1000 was considered “pushing it”.
On the night there were many performers, but this one singer stood out – an amazing voice. Gavin Lazarus
Best – Colin