Taking Photos in dimly lit JAZZ CLUBS spell corrected

I tried to take photos in a dimly lit jazz club in NJ called Shanghai Jazz but with my N1 and it's 24 - 85mm zoom I had a 4 sec exposure wide open. This weekend I bought the 50mm 1.4 and trying to use it wide open with 800ASA film I was still at a 2 sec. exposure. What are the rest of the people doing with the same lighting, shooting in this club without flash? One of the patrons was giving enlargements to a headliner last evening (Winard Harper)and I was looking on with amazement. How are they getting good exposures? Is it digital perhaps? Does digital work well in low light? Any suggestions?
 
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paul_drouillard

Zooms are normally useless in bars and some concerts. I've had tremendous success over the years with the 85 / 1.4 and Tmax 3200 @ 800 to 1600. Contax meters tend to underexpose in high contrast situations. I shoot concerts with 400 ISO rated @ 200. Works great. If the place is impossibly dark, it may be worth going to alternative lighting. I've had friends hold up high a hot shoe flash mounted on my monopod. Can easily be fooled for a stage spotlight. Hope this helps.
 
C

craignorris

Rick, I sometimes photograph dancers in theatres and dimly lit restaurants. With an F2.0 lens and ISO 800 film (Fuji Press 800) I can use a shutter speed of 1/30th. But a jazz club may have much dimmer lights than a theatre.

I also used a digital camera (Sony DCS-F717), and found that it was impressive for it's great depth of field even when wide open, but when the white balance is set to tungsten, the blue channel noise is horrible, especially at ISO800 sensitivity. I therefore get best picture quality from the Fuji Press 800 in a Konica Hexar, but when I need large depth of field, the digital camera works better, although I have to spend a long time in Photoshop to remove the noise from the dark background.

You can see s&le pictures here:
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Put your cursor over each frame to see which camera and film was used.

Regards,

Craig
 
Thanks for the info but this club has no theatrical lighting, just a few overhead lights. I'm using 800 ASA Fuji film, spot metering and with the 50mm wide open at 1.4 the exposure was 2 seconds. i guess it's just a matter of not enough light. I'm just wondering what a digital camera can do with this lighting? Because digital is having a great impact on my division of Fuji Photo Processing I'm not thrilled about going digital but would it be better in low light situations? Rick
 

hdfuhrman

Active Member
Rick,

The variables are the same for both film and digital, except you can change ISO between each photo with digital and between rolls with film. If you get ISO 3200 film or you have a digital that can use 3200, the results will have grain or noise, respectively. What do you gain if you are using your 1.4 lens wide open? With ASA 800, the exposure is 2 seconds. If you increase to from 800 to 3200, you gain 2 stops so you can cut your time 2 stops to 1/2 a second. At 1/2 second you can't handhold the camera and if you use a tripod, your photo's will still be blurry because your subjects will not stand still for a 1/2 second while the film is being exposed. I think you said a supplemental light source is not an option. I agree with your supposition, there just is not enough light.

Good Luck,

Howard
 
W

wojo

The film that I've settled on is fuji nph. I've tried fuji hg? and fuji cu, both asa 1600 films at normal rating processed normal and one stop push. Real grainy with a lot of green "speckles" in the black areas. I tried both with 2 stop push developing with the camera set at 2400, with much the same results. Kodak supra 800 shot at 1600 with a two stop push is nearly acceptable. Can be cleaned up with a LOT of post processing in the editor that I use, Picture Window, from dlc.
The best combination that I've found is fuji nph developed 2 stops and shot at 1600. Nice blacks, good tone, not to "blotchy".
The last comment that I'll offer is the smootheness is seriously dependant on your scanner, that is if you scan. I use a nikon ls-1000, for previews and full scans to check details. Perhaps, because it's light sources are 3 RGB leds it's a real grain intensifier......
Any serious "want to print shots" I've been rescanning with a polaroid fs-4000 (a cold cathode, fluorscent, light source). Much smoother scans, more pleasant to my eye. MUCH,MUCH, SLOWER!!!!!!(scsi-2 interface)
As far as technique and equipmentgoes, I'm always using a monopod with the 85/1.4 and 28/2.0 or a tripod with a 300/2.8 tamron.
I have a lot of shots posted at
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Check out the difference in the Antigone Rising set, the last shot scanned with the Polaroid, and the same shot somewhat in the middle scanned with a nikon ls-1000. Specefications aside, scanners differ in their handling of less than optimal negatives.....
The first set was taken using cu at 1600 and developed +2.
The second AR set was taken with nph rated 1600 developed +2
The others were made with various films.
Joe W.
 
C

craignorris

Rick, it does seem to be a matter of just not enough light. Digital is not going to give faster shutter speeds, unless there is a low noise ISO1600 available in a digital camera, but even then, it'll still be a one second shutter speed, compared to your two second shutter speed at ISO800. As mentioned in my earlier post, I found the noise in the shadows to be very objectionable when using a digital camera in low light at high ISO sensitivities, especially if tungsten white balance is used. Tungsten white balance &lifies the blue channel, and in dim tungsten lighting, like a jazz club, there is almost no blue in the light itself, and the result from a digital camera in that situation contains lots of blue noise. I am sticking to film because it gives me better results than digital under those conditions. I've tried both, and film wins. But I use a Konica Hexar because it is much easier to hold still at slow shutter speeds. It's a viewfinder camera, so I can always see the subject even during the exposure, whereas an SLR hides the subject from me during the exposure, such that I never really know what I got until the film is processed. That would be the main advantage of a digital SLR in your circumstances, because you could review the shot to see what you captured. This is important if the subject is always moving, as the dancers typically are. (Mind you, I have also missed good shots because I was busy at the time reviewing an image. That's something that never happens with a film camera.)

Just as a long shot, however, have you made sure that your camera is in ISO800 setting? It could be that you left the camera in a non-DX mode, and although you have 800 film in the camera, the camera might still be set to ISO100. I imagine you checked that but I mention it just in case. I have made that mistake more than once myself.

Regards,

Craig
 

hdfuhrman

Active Member
Joe W,

I visited your Web site and viewed nearly all your shots. Big thumbs up. I really like what you did in low and dimly light situations.

Howard
 
Thanks to everyone for your replies. I think we'll leave it as "just not enough light." It's not rocket science but what got me asking the original question is that i'm always seeing folks taking photos in this club but i have never seen their results. Two weeks ago a guy was shooting photos with an old Leica meterless rangfinder. I asked him after the show what exposure he was using, he said he didn't have a meter and was just guessing. Who knows what his results were. Years ago i took great photos in Lincoln Center of some jazz concerts and with the proper stage lighting I got great results, so as I said we'll leave it as "just not enough light".
Thanks again, Rick
 
J

John_bird

Hi Rick this in most way is a restatment of whot others have said but may clarify in non adverage situations meters cannot be trusted the only guide is experiance you will only get an idear of whot you can GET AWAY WITH when you go out and shoot lots of film, go on its fun cheap and legal under these lighting these conditions. There will never be enougth light in situations like this so try to make the best use of whot is there, try to select a position that makes the best use of the availible light ie try to avoid hard side lighting or back lighting keep in mind that the eye has a very wide contrast range hence lots of the detail you see in the shadow areas will disapear if you expose correctly for the performer and frame your shots with this in mind, use any sort of suport you can even when standing try pressing your back to the wall if sitting hold the camera on the table or place your elbows on the table.
Just a quick word on subject movement all repetertive movements have a point of perfect stillness as when they reverse direction(performers moveing in time to music)use this to freeze motion takes a bit of practice but its worth it.
I looked back through your post to see whot type of film you were useing? If it is negative film and you have to send it out for D&P all automated printers will have a problem producing print from available light negs because of the unusual tonal balance and range and if you do not have access to a specialised printer and cannot print these neg yourself I would suggest you try reversal film as then you will see how the image looks.
When you look at negs shot in situations like this don't expect them to look normal, there are often large blank areas with only illuminated areas recorded, look at other photographs taken under the same situation and see just how little is recorded and how much is sugested by what is recorded.
By for now John
 
M

mike_nunan

Hi Rick,

Just to add to the sound advice offered by the previous posters (I can certainly confirm John's statement that a lot of shadow areas will inevitably reproduce as pure black) I would also make a couple of suggestions regarding film. If you're shooting B&W, then Ilford Delta 3200 is worth a try, as the grain seems a bit tighter than TMax 3200 in most cases. If you can shoot at 1600 then do so, as the grain looks a lot cleaner at that speed compared to 3200. If you are home-processing, then consider using a two-bath or compensating developer formula such as Emofin. I haven't tried this myself, but I've seen glowing recommendations for Fuji Neopan 400 in Emofin which gives an effective 1000 speed. (Neopan 400 is normally considered a contrasty film, but the compensating effect of Emofin counteracts that.) At a guess, Neopan 1600 in Emofin might be a good way to get the speed you want without too much contrast and lost shadows.

If you are shooting colour, I can highly recommend uprating Fuji Provia 400F. This stuff is amazing, I've shot it at 3200 and while the grain size is large, it is still perfectly usable even in 35mm. A pro friend of mine tells me he's used it at 6400 before now with usable results. Of course, you will get serious contrast, so only the directly lit parts of the subject will show up above the black background. The only other drawback is the expense; this stuff must have platinum in it, not silver, considering the price Fuji charge for it.

HTH

-= mike =-
 
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ethersoup

> I agree with Mike on the two-bath developer, but caution that Tmax p3200 as well as Delta 3200 are not good choices for two bath development (unless you lower the effective film speed ie. p3200 to 1250) because these are not true 3200 speed films. I read somewhere that P3200 was actually 800 speed basicaly pushed to 3200 (the manufacturers evidently do something to help counteract the contrast issues so that they can be pushed)

Two-bath development does give an increase in film speed in most other films though. I am currently testing Neopan 1600 in a two-bath, my own variation of D2D (sorry not available in package form. . .well maybe Photographers Formulay carries D2D) I'm rating at 2400.

I Also Plan on trying an new technique I read about in "The Darkroom Cookbook" sec ed page66 for pushing film . You use Hydrogen peroxide fumes (do not get directly on the film) to push the film between first wash and fix. The book "claims";

Plus X 125, Fp4 125 pushed to 800 to 1600! Hp5+ 400 pushed to 3200 to 6400!

I have not yet tested this myself. But can you imagine the possibilities if true!

Hope this helps Kevin

P.S. I am a big Jazz fan myself! Oh and if you try this Please let me know if it works.
 
A

aristharcus

Hi Kevin,

Astrophotographers frequently use hypered films. They are films like Kodak Technical Pan, Fuji NPH, etc that are modified with a bath of gas under pressure for several hours. The net result is a terrific gain in sensibility. Please, try the following links:

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Cheers, Ludwig Argüelles
 
E

ethersoup

> Thanks Ludwig Interesting. Exspensive though. Do you use one of these? Have you ever tr= ied the technique I described?

Kevin
 
J

John_bird

Hi another trick with B&W neg film is to pre-flash film giveing a very-low exposure,this not only increses speed but reduces contrast. Please do not ask for details of pre-flash exposure as it was the early 80's when I played with this.
John.
 
W

writing4me

This might be the worst suggestion you've had so far, but it is something I will put out there anyway. I was just looking at a photograph John Shaw did of some flowers. In it, he made two exposures. So, say your time would be 1/4 .... he shot one image at 1/8 focussed sharply, and then a second image at 1/8 slightly out of focus. The effect was that the first image burned a sharp although not completely exposed flower on the film ... the second image made a glowing sort of halo around the (yellow) flowers. I was wondering if somehow making two exposures on one frame might be applied in the jazz clubs? I haven't tried it. But if you could get yourself up to a 1/2 second or so, maybe you could end up with something interesting? If you could stop action with the first exposure, then let the slight blurring of movement occur in the second you'd end up with a brighter image overall, and possibly of some artistic interest. Like I said, this might be the worst suggestion - maybe someone who has practiced this method on other subjects will know if I've blundered on this. Good luck though, Lynn PS: Why not speak with the photographer who you said you saw with good images from these clubs? Unless he's very unusual, he probably won't mind helping you figure things out.
 
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aristharcus

Hi Kevin,

>>> Thanks Ludwig Interesting. Exspensive though. Do you use one of these? Have you ever tr= ied the technique I described? >>>

No, I have never used hypered film (the only Astropictures I've made have been from the Sun and Moon (please, see
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), and these requiere short exposures. In fact, I don't know anybody using hypered film for "conventional" photography, but I'm sure it can be a very interesting experience.

Cheers, Ludwig Argüelles
 
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writing4me

> Posted by Mike Nunan on Monday, August 04, 2003 - 12:13 pm:

> If you are shooting colour, I can highly recommend uprating Fuji > Provia 400F. This stuff is amazing, I've shot it at 3200 and while the > grain size is large, it is still perfectly usable even in 35mm. A pro > friend of mine tells me he's used it at 6400 before now with usable > results. Of course, you will get serious contrast, so only the > directly lit parts of the subject will show up above the black > background. The only other drawback is the expense; this stuff must > have platinum in it, not silver, considering the price Fuji charge for > it. Mike - This is interesting to me because I just got a lens test back that I did and found that when I'm not hitting at least 1/250 at an effective f11 (large slow lens with a doubler) I get vibration problems and soft images. At 250 or above, everything is sharp edge to edge. ( I previously cursed this lens as soft, and now I'm humbly apologizing to it) Anyway - I need to shoot something of 1600 speed to pull off what I want to do. Do you have any s&le at all of shooting Provia 400 pushed to 1600 just so I can get a vague idea what it might produce? (Not a dimly lit club, but actually outdoors in marginal early morning or late evening light). If you have anything you can email me at Lynn@turnkeydesign.net I don't care if the image is large. Thanks very much, -Lynn
 
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