I’ve spent the last week in Busan, South Korea photographing a corporate event with over 5,000 attendees and world class entertainment and stage performances. One of my favorite performances was by a Korean drummer, Choi Suri. In this tutorial I will go over how I shot and post processed this image for the above result.
Photographing stage performances comes with a certain set of challenges. Choi has tons of energy and was moving extremely fast. His hair was constantly being flung in front of his face. I knew I’d need a fast shutter speed and luckily there was enough light on the stage to allow for a 1/800 sec shutter speed to freeze the motion. I also knew I’d need to frame my shot and rapidly capture a series of frames in order to capture one where you could see his face and his hair was in an interesting position. I also wanted his arms striking the drums and a cymbal. It’s a matter of holding your camera in position, setting focus, and being patient. When you fire a frame, leave your camera where it is – pressed to your face and keep looking through the viewfinder. You’ll be ready to make the next exposure when your subject is in the right position.
Some cameras have a rapid fire mode, where they will take several exposures in rapid succession if you press and hold down the shutter release button. This is handy for capturing fast moving subjects or when you anticipate the action and don’t want to miss a certain moment. If your camera lacks this mode or ability, you can still get the shot, you just have to be prepared and work quickly when the moment arrives to take the shot.
Here are the settings I used for the image above:
1/800 sec; f/4.0; ISO 2500
For much of this event I was shooting with a Canon 70-200mm f/2.8L Lens. As an official photographer at the event I had full access to stand right up in front of the stage, but the stage was so huge that shooting at 200mm was the only way to really get close to the action. This lens is expensive, but don’t forget you can rent it for a fraction of the purchase price.
Another cheaper option is Canon’s EF 200mm f/2.8L Prime Lens. “Prime” means that the lens has a fixed focal length and doesn’t zoom. The zoom feature can help with composition, but honestly when using the 70-200mm I find myself almost always using the lens at 200mm. This lens also lacks image stabilization which can be an issue at lower shutter speeds, however this lens is also much lighter and smaller than the more conspicuous 70-200mm.
As with most of my images, I began by adjusting the Raw file in the Camera raw module. Here I will typically increasing the clarity, contrast, and lift the shadows slightly and then open the image. For this specific image I used the Super Cross Pop filter from the Nik Software Collection available for Photoshop and Lightroom. The collection is $150.oo USD but offers amazing value with hundreds of time saving filters and “recipes.” I like to start with one of the presets and then adjust it to get the desired results. Here’s a short video showing how I post processed this image:
I’ve decided to start providing Raw image files with tutorials for my newsletter subscribers. Make sure to subscribe using the box on the sidebar or at the end of this post if you’d like a copy of the original file to experiment with and practice your own post processing skills.
If you do edit my image, I’d love for you to share it on the Camera Stupid Facebook Page so I can see what you came up with.