Multiple Exposure Bokeh Technique or how to save you concert photos in a crappy lighting environment

1/13/2016 ISO 1200 Magazine 0 Comments

Today we featured a new guest photographer: "Eric Dany"(website). He will talk about Multiple Exposure Bokeh Technique or how to save you concert photos in a crappy lighting environment. This is the tutorial:

Here is a situation a lot of photographers may relate with: you want to take pictures at a concert of artists you enjoy listening. But what can you do when there’s no stage, a crappy color flickering Led lighting and a mess of stands, microphones and cables?

The concert I attended involved a young jazz quartet called “Note Forget” in a very small and completely unknown jazz club in Paris east side. The most famous artist in this band, Jean Rondeau (actually better known as harpsichord player extraordinaire than jazz pianist) was cornered between a white upright piano, a synthetizer, a GoPro Stand and two loudspeakers. On the front of the band, saxophone player Virgile Lefebvre had his head in some sort of a lighting blindspot, only getting light from a far back Led filtered by bass player’s head Erwan Ricordeau. On drums, S├ębastien Grenat was also only backlighted, but with a closer Led spotlight. Was it the worst set I’ve ever seen? No, but not by far.

Here is how it looked :

With the very low ceiling, it would as well be a garage…

Nevertheless, I tried to snap some shots and it was even worse than I thought it would be. Of course, especially if you shoot Raw, you may think you can “fix it in post”, for instance go for contrasty black & white, try to add a big color cast or test every presets (Lightroom or whatever) you can access to and hope for the best. Been there, done that.

So this time, I wanted to try a different approach.

The idea was to use the Multiple Exposure function of my DSLR to transform the appearance of the set and immerse the musicians in a surreal atmosphere closer to the effect of the music to my ears than the actual set.

For this show, my equipment was a Nikon D750 with Tamron 70 200 VC.

Setting it in multiple exposure mode is actually very easy. You just have to go in “The Photo Shooting Menu”, locate the “Multiple exposure” Item and set it like this:

Multiple Exposure Mode: On (series)
Number of shots: 2
Auto gain : ON 

Watch this short video showing the location of the function:

For the first exposure, I searched how I could get a convincing Bokeh effect. The metallic parts of the saxophone as well as drum kit were perfect for that purpose. I just needed to set my aperture to a wide open f2.8, zoom in at 200 mm, defocus manually and keep that setting by holding the AE-L/AF-L button with my thumb while pressing down the shutter with my index. As the colors of the Led spotlights where constantly changing, I obtained different colors each time, but I pushed a step forward by playing with the white balance in Kelvin mode.

Here is an example of a Bokeh exposure separately:

Then, for the second exposure, I only needed to take a regular capture of the musicians. Of course, there’s a lot of trial and error in that process because you have to forsee where you can leave some room to the face of the musician and not bury him under bright bokeh like here :

Bottom line, it takes time and a some luck but I think this “Multiple Exposure Bokeh Technique” as I call it now is worth trying when the lighting setup is so ugly that the first idea you have looking at it is to close your eyes.


  • You can check the photo album of this concert HERE

Thanks a ton for sharing Eric!!

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