Shooting Digital Photographs with Stage Lighting - dummies

By Robert Correll

Photographing performers on stage is fun, but can be quite challenging. Normally, the auditorium or venue is dark. The performers are lit by stage lighting, which can vary quite a bit. If they are under bright spotlights, it’s easy to shoot nice, crisp photos with fast shutter speeds and low ISOs.

If the lighting isn’t cooperating, the dark conditions push your camera to the limit. The photographer took the photo with a decidedly average zoom lens. It was not ideal. As a result, he could only open the aperture to f/5.6. While he set the shutter speed to 1/125 second, the ISO rose to 1600, which is getting into noisy territory for the camera he was using. In the end, this photo is balanced on a knife edge. A bit slower or a bit noisier, and it would not work.

Stage lighting brightly illuminates performers but leaves the background dark.

Processing shots like this can be tricky. You can’t always rely on automatic routines. Adobe Lightroom, for example, thinks this photo is seriously underexposed. It wants to brighten the background, which ruins the photo.