I have just started learning and practicing and went out shooting for practice in a local concert at a small bar.

Most of my photos have turned out terrible and most of them similar have similar issues as the picture below.. So please take a look and give me some advice on what are the things I have done wrong and how to improve them for next time.

Also my equipments are: Camera: Nikon D-610, Lens: 35mm f/1.8

ISO: 4000, f:1.8

And here is the image:

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    \$\begingroup\$ Here's one way I prefer to do it. photo.stackexchange.com/a/40762/15871 \$\endgroup\$
    – Michael C
    Commented Dec 24, 2014 at 3:25
  • \$\begingroup\$ I was all the time in Aperture mode, maybe I should have switched to Shutter priority mode? \$\endgroup\$
    – Brandon
    Commented Dec 24, 2014 at 3:26

2 Answers 2


Your camera doesn't know what the image should look like, but can make some informed guesses. Primarily, it tries to make the scene some average amount of bright (18%) so if you have a lot of dark areas then it tries to brighten it up (or if you have a lot of bright, it'll darken it).

So the curtains that you probably don't care about, the camera doesn't know that you don't care and wants them to be bright, which then caused the overexposure on the people and the blurriness (due to long shutter speed).

Not that I do concert photography, but my typical SOP is to use aperture priority (or the meter in manual mode, it's the same thing if you think about it) to get my shutter speed close, then adjust it from there until I get what I like.

The issue you'll have is if the lights are constantly changing then it'll be hard to find just one shutter speed that works. What you may need to do is research the different metering modes and controls of your camera (spot metering may work, but what happens if you focus and recompose, does that influence your meter and so you need to do some kind of exposure lock?) so that the aperture priority works correctly.

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    \$\begingroup\$ @Blake you just need to learn how the camera and it's settings work. Concert photography isn't very good with the auto/default settings; you really need to dive in and either go full manual or start using more advanced features. \$\endgroup\$
    – tenmiles
    Commented Dec 24, 2014 at 14:37
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    \$\begingroup\$ One strategy for dealing with changing lights is to just wait for them to change in your favor, and keep an eye out for parts of the scene that are lit to your liking. \$\endgroup\$
    – Caleb
    Commented Dec 24, 2014 at 15:34
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Blake If it's steady then just work it out in manual mode. It will be the most reliable way once you get the hang of it. \$\endgroup\$
    – tenmiles
    Commented Dec 25, 2014 at 4:32
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    \$\begingroup\$ @blake since they were steady, you could chimp the photos (take a pic, look at LCD) and adjust your EV. That's pretty easy and fast. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Dec 30, 2014 at 21:37
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    \$\begingroup\$ @blake in this context it means exposure compensation. 0 is normally exposed, positive values (+1,+2, etc) are overexposed and negative are underexposed. \$\endgroup\$
    – tenmiles
    Commented Dec 30, 2014 at 22:19

It is overexposed. Your camera metered the black areas of the scene as medium gray. That caused the shutter speed to be too slow and you also got motion blur. Concert photography is one of the most demanding types on several levels. Getting proper exposure in such an environment is as much an art as a technical skill, and takes a lot of practice to find the best way you can get it.

Here's one way I prefer to do it.

Here's another that is more applicable to the shooting situation in your question.

I was all the time in Aperture mode, maybe I should have switched to Shutter priority mode?

In any automatic mode (P, S, A) you're going to need to use some exposure compensation to prevent the camera from trying to make the black background areas too light. Ultimately you need to learn to shoot in manual exposure mode for best results in such a challenging setting. Regardless of which shooting mode you are in you need to pay attention to the shutter speed and aperture values displayed in the viewfinder and adjust accordingly. Using spot or center weighted metering also helps for some folks. I prefer Evaluative (Canon)/Matrix (Nikon) but I've learned to see how much EC I need.


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