Yes Virginia, you can shoot handheld in low light

| August 8, 2011
little big town kimberly schlapman

Little Big Town

A few weeks back I went to a charity dinner at a local ranch and had the opportunity to shoot country band Little Big Town. It is rare that I can get this close at a concert and shoot without being asked to put my camera away! The band is awesome in concert and, if country is your thing, I highly recommend you go see them live.

little big town live

Dueling guitars at the Little Big Town concert

My primary goal was to shoot fast enough to stop movement at an aperture that would give enough depth of field to keep the subject in focus. It was fun to try and dial in the right balance of ISO, aperture and shutter speed to get decent shots. For the shot at the top of the post, I chose an ISO of 1600, an aperture of f/5.0, and a shutter speed of 1/160 of a second. Full manual was the only way to go because the dramatic light differences were too much for the auto exposure to handle.

karen fairchild little big town

Karen Fairchild of Little Big Town

I really enjoyed how abstract shapes emerged as subjects began to blend seamlessly with the dark background. If the lighting got brighter for a shot, I opted to increase the shutter speed to compensate. This allowed me to gain a little insurance against motion blurring due to camera or subject movement. If the light dimmed, I opened up the aperture a little to let more light in. This created a shallower depth of field but kept the shutter fast enough to stop movement. Decisions, decisions!

little big town

Solo guitarist for Little Big Town

I patiently waited for the right combination of moment, light and composition to emerge for each of the shots and I am very happy with the results. It was perhaps the most challenging photography I have attempted to date and the experience I gained that night will help enormously when approaching similar conditions in the future.

little big town live concert

Little Big Town on stage


Category: Photography

Comments (6)

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  1. AutumnLeaves says:

    Absolutely stunning photos, Lee!

  2. Stellar set of photos as always Lee – some really tack sharp stuff here, and very well composed. Keep ’em coming!

  3. These are great, Lee. So sharp and clean. Really great work

  4. Pam Holnback says:

    Love the slight abstractedness of these!

  5. Randy Saffle says:

    Did the band see them yet? I’m sure they would love them.

  6. Lee says:

    Thank you all for visiting. I always appreciate the comments and I am thrilled you like the photos!