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Clactonian

Guys and Dolls

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One of my enjoyable ‘jobs’ is to photograph the local Youth Theatre’s annual production (as well as help build the set). This year the group performed Guys and Dolls.

Naturally one cannot disturb paying customers by taking photographs during performances so all the work has to be done during the dress rehearsal, which is quite challenging as everything has to be done on the fly with no pre-planning.

Modern technology is both a help and hinderance these days.

Our cameras have much improved sensors and dynamic range, coping much better at high ISO values, but stage lighting is now extremely bright and with focusable moving heads pooling intense light on an otherwise dark stage even the latest sensors struggle to cope.

Another problem is accommodating production numbers that takeup the whole stage, appropriately lit, followed by an immediate change with maybe two characters in a corner or centre stage in a pool of light requiring a close up.

This is my approach to the problem, which I’m sure will differ from others, but it works for me (most of the time).

I use three 24Mp cameras all set to ISO 3200 which I have found to be the safe limit to avoid excessive noise.

The first is tripod mounted with a 35mm manual focus lens set at f6.4 and zone focussed from infinity to a few metres from the camera, matrix metered in aperture priority mode and fired with a cable release. This is positioned to take in the whole stage for the big production numbers.

My second camera is fitted with a 24 – 90mm zoom with vibration reduction, the camera again on aperture priority at f4 and using spot metering. This camera is hung on a strap around my neck.

The third camera is fitted with a 70-300mm zoom with vibration reduction, aperture priority, spot metering and at f5.6. This camera is hand held.

I leave the colour balance on auto with all three, firstly because I take RAW images anyway, and secondly because the intense colour washes used for stage lighting frequently need adjusting in post where the sensors over saturate or colour shift.

I always underexpose by a stop or two to avoid burning out the highlights. I did try bracketing but this is not successful due to the slight time lag between exposures.

My aim is always to reproduce the actual stage lighting as close as is possible.

How did it go? Well I took well over 500 images during the rehearsal which I have now pruned down to just under two hundred, ditching duplicates, closed eyes, too much movement and missed exposures etc. The Director and more importantly the youngsters are extremely happy. I on the other hand can always see plenty of room for improvement.

 

 

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Edited by Clactonian
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Still trying.

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Super Mike.


Mike Gorman

 

Lumix G9 , GX8 - Leica 12, 15, 20, 25, 42.5 - 8-18, 12-60, 35-100, 45-175

 

 

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Thanks Mike.


Still trying.

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Great job, Mike! I love doing stage work. I really miss it. 

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3 hours ago, Dallas said:

Great job, Mike! I love doing stage work. I really miss it. 

Thanks Dallas. I ran a theatre for 13 years before I retired so had many more opportunities then. The youth group show is sadly my own chance these days.


Still trying.

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This is as close as I can get to the Guys & Dolls. The Weymouth Choral Society performing “Land of Hope and Glory”

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Mike Gorman

 

Lumix G9 , GX8 - Leica 12, 15, 20, 25, 42.5 - 8-18, 12-60, 35-100, 45-175

 

 

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