Worship Picture

Pictures During Worship

I recently posted a post about using lighting in worship and our journey on how our lights have changed over time.  A couple people have asked me about tips for shooting photos during worship sets.  While I don’t claim to take fantastic pictures of our worship sets, they do turn out decently with lots of color and clarity.

  1. The first thing I tell people is usually not a popular answer in the fact that pictures are only as good and colorful as the real set. If your stage isn’t outputting a lot of color, odds are your photo won’t either.  So one obvious tip is to make sure your lighting/projection/set design looks sharp and colorful to begin with.  Your camera captures moments, it doesn’t create them.
  2. Front lighting levels.  Most places run their front lighting (on singers and such) way too bright.  While the human eye can compensate for the lighting difference between front light and back color light, your camera can not.  One of the major things we learned when moving to IMAG during worship a while back was to keep our front wash at a much lower level.  This allows our camera iris (both photo and video) to open up more and collect more color data.  Remember this: the lower you can get with your front wash, the brighter you have to crank your cameras, meaning the color is captured much more vividly.  This is usually the most important step that people haven’t considered.  Our front washes are run on 750w ellipsoidal lights.  We run them no brighter than 50-60% at about a 30-40 ft throw, and often we run them lower than that.
  3. Foot Light.  Our front wash is accompanied by a foot light wash.  Meaning we have lights at the foot of our stage shooting up at the people on stage.  This helps fill in shadows, helps our people kind of “glow”, lets us get away with a lower front light level, and helps our speakers look more friendly by filling in deep eye shadows.
  4. Audience Lighting.  The pictures I have posted recently aren’t the best example of this, but the more light on the audience, the more interaction you’ll be able to capture.  If you are looking to do a seriously awesome photo, you need lots of audience light.  I would also suggest that the audience light comes from the stage, and not the house lights.  Makes for fantastic pictures.
  5. Great Camera.  Dark lighting conditions is what separate the amateur cameras from professional cameras.  Can you get a decent shot with a cheaper DSLR? Yes, you can.  It’s just going to be grainy.  To compensate for that, you can export your image at a much smaller size.  Because my wife and I have a photography business, we are fortunate to have good gear.  Specifically, we shoot on a 5D Mark iii with lenses at 1.2 and 2.8.  All made for extremely low light.
  6. Noise Reduction Software.  Even on our great camera gear, the result is a bit grainy.  So we use Adobe Lightroom to edit all of our photos.  It has a noise reduction that is beyond awesome.  Just make sure you don’t over do it, or it looks quite fake.

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