Photographing in an Arena: Glorious Sons and Black Pistol Fire

On Thursday, February 27th I photographed Glorious Sons and Black Pistol Fire at Scotiabank Arena in Downtown Toronto for 102.1 The Edge.

It can be tough to photograph in a stadium and Scotiabank no exception. Usually, you’ll get a great light show but sometimes at the band’s request, the lights can be dim and sporadic and that’s definitely the case with Black Pistol Fire. Fantastic performers, this was my second time photographing them and I knew it was going to be a challenge based on the last shoot. From my previous experience photographing them I knew they had a very dark set with lots of quick, bright flashes of light, I had tried to bump up my ISO as high as possible but I found the photos either really grainy or way too bright and I was struggling with them in post. This time I set my camera to capture those highlights, ISO 4000, Aperture F4, Shutter Speed 1/200*.

*I know, 1/200 is slow for concert photography, normally I’d try and push it as far as I could go but I’ve been struggling with the LED banding with my Z6 over the last few shoots and I didn’t want that banding to appear in these images. I’ve updated my firmware since and I’m hoping this will correct the issue, will update as soon as I can!

After having a chat with my friend Tom in the pit, he suggested trying the Z6’s Auto-ISO feature, it’s not something I generally like to use since the camera can sometimes read a scene as being too dark and overexpose it. Although that’s not a huge issue, I prefer to underexpose cause you can usually rescue detail but if it’s blown out or too bright, there’s little to no detail to recover.  I decided to give it a try for the main act and I gotta say it wasn’t bad. There were a few instances when they first started and it was really backlit the camera wanted to overexpose but as I moved my focus point, the exposure adjusted right in my viewfinder and I was able to take the shot when I thought the light was perfect.

That’s one of my favourite things about the Z6, you have an accurate preview of your image before you press the shutter. On a normal SLR compared to this mirrorless system, you’re looking at your image through the lens and you have your exposure meter at the bottom but you don’t know how it turned out till you review the image on the back of the screen, with the Z6 (or other mirrorless cameras) I now know before I take it. I ended up dialing my exposure compensation down by -0.7 and I’m really happy with how they turned out. Full gear & Settings listed below.

Gear List:

Nikon Z6 w/ 24-70 F4 & Nikon 70-200 F2.8 w/ adapter.
Edited using Vengenza Concert Presets.

Black Pistol Fire Photos ISO 4000, F4 & F2.8, Shutter Speed 1/200
Glorious Sons Photos ISO ranged from 720-18,000, F4, Shutter Speed 1/200, – 0.7 EV.


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