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Occasional Contributor
Posts: 6
Registered: ‎03-05-2019
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Help - new photographer!

Please bear with me as I am new to DSLRs and I trying to learn to properly use my Canon 6D and am having a terrible time trying to shoot a play at my child's school. 

 

I'm sure it is something I am doing wrong. I began by using the Auto setting, but was getting some blur. It was recomended that I try shooting in Aperture Priority, which I have been doing, but the photos are coming out very overly saturated, dark,and not natural looking at all. Others look very overexposed. What do I need to adjust besides setting the Fstop number, and how?

 

What am I doing wrong? It is tough shooting a play, particularly one where the lights are changing a lot, and kids moving, but even in the well lit scenes, where they are relatively still,  I am finding that many of my pictures are just terrible. Attached are two of the "better" ones.

 

Are there settings I need to change, or I am not setting the camera properly to begin with? Any help would be appreciated, as I have only one more chance to shoot this play tomorrow. IMG_3605.jpgIMG_4309.JPG 

 

Valued Contributor
Posts: 423
Registered: ‎01-25-2018

Re: Help - new photographer!

I think that the better photos you uploaded are nice.  Shooting in low light is never easy.

 

What lens are you using?  Getting in position where you can fill most of the sensor with the desired image is a huge help in getting good low light images because cropping makes noise and loss of detail very evident under those conditions.  If you aren't shooting in RAW, you should be because that gives you the best ability to do corrective work after the image is taken.

 

I shoot a lot of poorly lit sports and depending upon the overall lighting I will either use full manual mode with F stop, shutter speed, and ISO all set manually or I will stay in manual mode but set ISO to auto if the lighting changes across the playing field.  If the play lighting is changing frequently, and it probably will, then I would stay with auto ISO and keep an eye on what the ISO is showing as you take images.  If the lighting is good enough that the ISO is dropping fairly low for most scenes then you can consider closing down the aperture a stop for better depth of field if necessary or increasing shutter speed to reduce effects of motion blur and camera shake but I suspect given the lighting you will be shooting with the lens wide open and the shutter speed as slow as possible without blur/shake issues.

 

In most cases, for low light I would set the F stop to the lowest number available for that lens and then you will probably need a shutter speed in the 1/125 to 1/250  range.   A wide open aperture reduces the depth of field (area of the scene from front to back that is in acceptable focus) so if you are using a fast telephoto (i.e. F2.8) then there may be some scenes where you need to close the aperture down 1 or 2 stops to get the entire desired depth of scene in focus but probably not.  You can google depth of field calculator and there are some good sites that will calculate the depth of field based upon your camera model and exposure settings.  I would post my favorite here but most links get removed so just use a google search.  Your 6D should have a depth of field preview button that will show you what is actually in focus when you press it, the viewfinder image will get darker if the selected F stop is less than wide open because the lens will actually step down as it would during exposure when you press DoF preview and it will show you exactly what is in focus.  Stay away from live view if you are using it, the viewfinder works much better for this sort of low light shooting.

 

If you are using a telephoto lens that doesn't have image stabilization then you will probably need to be around 1/250.  If you are using a wider angle lens and you are capturing scenes without fast movement then you may be able to drop below this speed.  Last month I shot a speech night competition and 1/125 worked fine with a 28-70 F2.8 lens although a couple of the images had slight motion blur from a fast moving hand.

 

Once you have the F stop and shutter speed fixed where you need them with the ISO set to auto depress the shutter button half way and see what ISO the camera chooses.  The higher the ISO the more noise that will be in the image but it is a tradeoff.  You can slow the shutter speed down further reducing the required ISO required but then blur (both from camera movement and scene action) can become a problem.  Image parameters are always a tradeoff and low light really brings these tradeoffs to the forefront.

 

Good luck and I hope you get some great photos of your child and fellow classmates!  My daughter's first high school soccer game is in less than 2 weeks and I am looking forward to a fun season of shooting soccer and most of the varsity games will start in late afternoon so the lighting will be decent unlike the recent indoor club soccer season.

 

Rodger

EOS 1DX M2, 1DX, 1D M2, EOS 650 (film), many lenses, XF400 video
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Posts: 10,816
Registered: ‎12-07-2012

Re: Help - new photographer!

Your best friend is a good post editor.  You got DPP4 free with the camera or you can d/l it free from Canon. I prefer Photoshop but it isn't free. Second you need to set the 6D to shoot Raw format. It gives much more latitude in post editing.

Your white balance (WB) can be adjusted in the editor. You did not mention what lens you are trying to use? Most likely you need to be on the more open side of the aperture, f2.8, f2, etc. Set your ISO up around 1600 and try some even at 3200.  Using is Av is my first choice, too. This lets you fix the aperture and lets the 6D select the SS.

 

Lastly and most important is location. Where are you shooting from?  That is key to great photos.

 

 

BTW, is the play "**bleep** Yankees"?  I have shot it and even played in the pit for **bleep** Yankees several times!  Great show.

EOS 1DX and 1D Mk IV, along with less and less other stuff.
Occasional Contributor
Posts: 6
Registered: ‎03-05-2019

Re: Help - new photographer!

Thanks for the recommendation re software - it will be a bit of a learning curve for me to use DPP4 but I'm sure Photoshop is harder. 

 

I was using a 70 -200 IS lens. I thought that if I use AV at f2.8, that I would need to set the ISO much higher, around 6400. I was getting a lot of blur for some reason around f8 ISO 800 in AV. 

 

Just to clarify, when shooting in AV, I set the fstop I desire - say I want a large group shot at f16 - would I then just set the ISO to 200 and let the camera choose the shutter speed? 

 

Any recommendations for settings I should be using for large group shots if I am shooting in AV? All the pics when viewed close up look so soft and murky to me!

 

I have an 85 prime lens that I was using for some dance numbers that were unfortunately rather dimly lit. Would I be better switching to TV (shutter priority) for those? Setting recommendations?

Occasional Contributor
Posts: 6
Registered: ‎03-05-2019

Re: Help - new photographer!

I was using the large viewscreen on the back of the camera to check the pics after I took a few, and as expected, they looked okay on the preview screen (live view?) and ghastly when I downloaded at home. 

 

Please forgive my novice questions, but Manual mode always scares me with making adjustments on the fly. Are you suggesting I start at manual f 2.8 with a shutterspeed of say 1/250 and auto ISO, then just wheel the ISO as needed to get the shot? Or adjusting the shutterspeed down if too dark and up if too bright - and leaving the ISO at automatic?

 

I have a 70-200 IS lens, as well as a 50 and an 85 prime. I was using the prime more for dance shots, but with the red outfits and the dim lighting, the pics were coming out so overblown. This one was taken at 50 mm, f4, ISO 3200, 1/250 on AV Priority, I believe, and was the best of the lot. Most of them were a mess, and trying to get natural skin tones against the red colors and lighting / black background were killing me. Any way to brighter and sharper this without blowing out the whites?IMG_4360.jpg

Occasional Contributor
Posts: 6
Registered: ‎03-05-2019

Re: Help - new photographer!

Sorry, I meant to reply directly to you - see further down the thread!
Occasional Contributor
Posts: 6
Registered: ‎03-05-2019

Re: Help - new photographer!

I replied further down to you, but yes, the show is **bleep** Yankees - tech rehearsal. Fun show but all the red colors and black or bright neon backgrounds on the sike are killing me!
Valued Contributor
Posts: 423
Registered: ‎01-25-2018

Re: Help - new photographer!

[ Edited ]

The lower number the F stop, the wider the aperture with more light coming in.  In low light you generally want the lowest number F stop that will provide the required depth of field.   A lower number F stop means you can use either lower ISO and/or a faster shutter speed under the same ambient lighting conditions. Shooting at F8 in low light would require both ISO and shutter speed to be well outside of their desirable range.

 

Definitely shoot in RAW so you can choose/adjust white balance in post without concern.  DPP (or other RAW editors) will also allow you to do magic with dynamic range, blown highlights, blooming colors etc.  With a RAW file you can recover from a lot of image issues but not so much with a jpg file.  I haven't shot anything in JPG with a DSLR in almost 15 years.

 

With the 70-200, F2.8 may not provide sufficient depth of field for some shots depending upon how close you are to the telephoto end and how far you are from the subjects.  Try setting your F value to F4, shutter speed to 1/125 to 1/250 (IS on) and see what the auto ISO speed is for those conditions based upon light conditions.  If ISO is too high, open the lens to F2.8 realizing that depth of field may not be sufficient in some shots.

 

For group shots, how many lines of people would you have and are the lines straight or curved?  If there is significant depth (i.e 3 or 4 lines), you probably won't be able to have the lens wide open but with a group shot you shouldh't have to worry about rapid subject movement.  Turn IS on, set to F4 or F5.6 and shutter speed to 1/100 and see what that yields in terms of ISO speed.  Use the DoF preview button and also take a quick test shot magnifying the image to check focus at the front and rear of the photo.

 

What is the F stop range for the 85 prime?  With a dance number I suspect there will be times when you need significant depth of field so you probably won't be able to use it wide open and with dance you will need a shutter speed fast enough to avoid motion blur.  Different people will have different preferences but for low light I prefer to manually set both F stop and shutter speed to what is required for depth of field and control of blur and then either adjust ISO manually or let the camera choose in auto mode.  For settings like this I keep both the 1DX 2 and 1DX in manual mode.

 

DPP isn't that difficult and fortunately there isn't the same sort of time pressure you have when you are trying to get that perfect shot.  Working in RAW you aren't changing the original data file so if you make a mistake in DPP nothing is lost but a little time, the original image data is still there.  For a lot of stuff I do everything in DPP because it has a great RAW converter for my 1DX and 1DX 2 files and it does all of the basic stuff very well but it doesn't have the range of capabilities of the Adobe suite.  But I suspect it will do everything you need for now.

 

Rodger

EOS 1DX M2, 1DX, 1D M2, EOS 650 (film), many lenses, XF400 video
VIP
Posts: 10,816
Registered: ‎12-07-2012

Re: Help - new photographer!

"... the show is **bleep** Yankees - ..."

 

Love that show! Played in the pit, trombone, and shot it several times. Music and lyrics by Richard Adler and Jerry Ross. They also did Pajama Game another great musical. Did it several times, too.

 

crowgirl1,

Here is what I would do. Use the 70-200mm.  You don't need the 85mil so leave it at home. Set the 6D to Av mode and make sure you are using Raw format. Set the lens to f4. Set the ISO to 1600 or even 3200 if you liked what you already got using it.  I suspect the 6D can handle 3200, OK, but if not drop down to 1600. Let the 6D select the fastest SS it can for proper exposure. Some may be pretty slow so good holding technique is mandatory.  All photo gear has its limit. There is just so much that can be done. Sometimes you reach that limit.

Another very importnat thing is choose your shooting location carefully. WHere you shoot from is the most important part of this photography thing.

Good luck.

EOS 1DX and 1D Mk IV, along with less and less other stuff.
Honored Contributor
Posts: 7,766
Registered: ‎08-13-2015

Re: Help - new photographer!


@crowgirl1 wrote:

Thanks for the recommendation re software - it will be a bit of a learning curve for me to use DPP4 but I'm sure Photoshop is harder. 

 

I was using a 70 -200 IS lens. I thought that if I use AV at f2.8, that I would need to set the ISO much higher, around 6400. I was getting a lot of blur for some reason around f8 ISO 800 in AV. 

 

Just to clarify, when shooting in AV, I set the fstop I desire - say I want a large group shot at f16 - would I then just set the ISO to 200 and let the camera choose the shutter speed? 

 

Any recommendations for settings I should be using for large group shots if I am shooting in AV? All the pics when viewed close up look so soft and murky to me!

 

I have an 85 prime lens that I was using for some dance numbers that were unfortunately rather dimly lit. Would I be better switching to TV (shutter priority) for those? Setting recommendations?


I recommend using DPP and shooting RAW, too.  It gives you a fair amount of flexibility in adjusting exposure.  Av mode works well in shooting scenarios with fairly constant available light. But, I prefer the idea of shooting in Manual with ISO Auto when lighting can drastically change..  You can go into the menus and set a maximum ISO value that camera can automatically   As noted, this shooting mode gives you control over both aperture and shutter speed.

But, whether you use Av or Manual Mode, I think the real problem you are experiencing with exposure could be how the camera is metering the scenes.  With the subjects under a bright spotlight against a very dark background can fool the default metering mode, Evaluative Metering.  

I think you need to meter less of the entire frame, and meter on the subjects in the center of the frame.  Instead of metering the entire frame, try partial or center weighted metering, and only meter well light subjects, without averaging the dark background into the measurement.  This may help with your highlights flirting with being blown out.

I offer no advice beyond best practices for shooting a group exposure because I would have to be there to see the conditions.  I would observe the minimum shutter speed rule of thumb, which says set SS at 1/FL, 1 / Focal Length, or faster.  For a group shot, I would want a wider angle lens than the 70-200, so that I am not forced to open up the aperture, which reduces the DoF. 

 

The 6D is better than the average camera when it comes to low light shooting.  I would use One Shot focusing and Single Shot drive mode for the conditions apparent in your photos.  Be sure to use only the center AF point, so you can point the camera at what you want it to meter.  I would recommend keeping ISO at 3200, or less, and clean it up in DPP.

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