Get a free beginner's guide to photography

Learn techniques and best practices for capturing motion in low light

How to set your Meter for Concert Lighting

Have you ever wondered why your images are coming out extremely dark when you are shooting live events? Well the main reason is that your light meter is being thrown off by the stage lights. What is happening is your light meter is seeing extremely bright stage lights and it is tricking your camera to “think” there is a ton of light in the whole scene when there really isn’t.

Let me paint the picture for you. If you are inside and you see your light meter read 1/8000 of a second you should know that that is not correct. Now its correct in the term that if you were shooting just the stage lights it would need to be shot that fast. But if you are trying to capture a band they would just come out dark because of such a fast shutter speed. This is all part of the mentality of photography and knowing when something is either to good to be true or just can not be right.

So, if you are attempting to capture a band on stage and you don’t want to come back with all dark images what can you do? In this video I talk about getting out of aperture priority and getting into manual. The reason we are getting into manual is so you set your shutter speed opposed to the camera attempting to set it for you. You will start to understand when looking through your camera what shutter speeds should work and what shutter speeds will cause issues.

I know some of you may be saying how will I be able to set my camera manually? It is pretty simple, if you take a picture in apature priority you know have a general idea which way your settings will need to go. If its to dark, you have to let more light in, if its to bright you have to cut back on the amount of light your letting in. Remember what I always say, cause and effect, cause and effect.

Over time you will start to fully understand what settings will make a good image and what settings will cause the image to have issues. As you grow as a photographer your settings start to become second nature, reading the scene without the light meter starts to become easier and easier. I have gotten to the point where I glance at the light meter just to see if I am close and than make judgements and corrections from there.

One additional thing I wanted to mention is that when you are shooting with wider angles lenses and using matrix metering your meter is seeing a larger portion of the scene. When you shoot with a longer lens and fill the frame with just your subject your meter is only seeing the subject in the frame which will generally lead to a proper exposure. I still personally like to stay in manual exposure but if needed I would switch to aperture priority and spot metering.

If you are looking for a FREE guide to capturing motion in low light situations please be sure to sign up for the FroKnowsPhoto Email list. When you sign up you will receive by e mail a link to the FREE Ebook.