3. Choose a location. More often than not, you'll be locked into a specified shooting location (usually, your seat). Therefore, it's important to choose your position carefully. Whenever possible, ask a performer or the stage manager what will happen on stage. Plan your shots in advance. Also avoid microphones and their stands that may block your subjects.
4. See the light. Stage lighting can be tricky. Even though the lighting may look even to your eyes, chances are that a subject will be spot-lit at some point, such as the dancer with the mask in this photograph. The key is to see the overall light, the bright and dark areas of a scene and expose for the spot-lit subject.
There are two easy ways to achieve that goal. First, if your camera has one, you can choose the spot meter mode and lock in the exposure (using the exposure lock on your camera) on the subject. Second, you can set your camera on average metering and, knowing that the subject is brighter than the surrounding area (if it doesn't fill the frame), use your camera's exposure compensation function to reduce the exposure, maybe by one more stop. For this photograph, I set my camera on the Av (aperture-priority) mode and set the exposure compensation at -1.
5. See the color of light. In addition to seeing the different light levels on stage, you need to deal with how spotlights affect the color of the performers. The color of light can change from scene to scene, which would mean that if you wanted 100-percent accurate color, you'd have to set the white balance on your camera manually for each scene, which for most of us, is impractical. So, although I rarely recommend using the automatic white-balance setting, it's a good choice for stage shooting.
Of course, you can change the color balance of your image in Photoshop or in your RAW-processing program, warming up or cooling off a picture to your liking.
6. Separate the subjects. In photography, as in life, timing is everything. When several performers are on stage, it's important to have some separation between them, so that they don't get "lost" in each other. Setting your camera at its fastest frame rate, anticipating where a subject or subjects will be and taking lots of pictures help, as does shooting at exactly the right moment.
7. Final tip. I'd like to leave you with one last tip. Most people go to a performance to enjoy the show. Try your hardest to be unobtrusive. Otherwise, like a bad performer, you may get booed!
A memory card with big storage and fast write speeds is a necessity for event photography, where you have no time for review. PNY memory cards offer large capacities, up to 32 GB, and ultrahigh speeds, up to 40 MB/sec. List Price: Starts at $29. Contact: PNY, www.pny.com.