Wednesday, 19 June 2013

Performing Arts Photography and Extending Opportunities To Others

Director Robert Chuter invited me along to the play The Death of Peter Pan a story about love, young people, intolerance, persecution and shared suicide. Certainly a grim story, but an awesome photographic opportunity with the actors dressed in clothes from the 1920's set in a variety of scenes, London, Paris, Scotland etc.

The challenge for the photographer is that all the varied scenes are based around a simple flat stage and three objects. A Chesterfield chair, a dining table and a gramophone. The lighting and music along with your imagination filled in the rest. The brief from Robert was to watch the play along with fellow photographer George Darsas then come back for a special session to photograph the cast in action without annoying the audience with our clicking and moving around. This was an awesome opportunity and one I highly appreciated. The play was excellent and well worth seeing, I congratulate you if you did. The story reflects so much that is relevant in today's society. We haven't come very far forward at all in 100 years.

While this was an awesome opportunity for myself and George, I stretched Robert's hospitality a little and asked if I could bring some more photographers extending the opportunity to some other members of the Melbourne Photowalkers Google+ community. It's really important to me personally to generate opportunities for members of the community. I started in photography and grew because other people shared their opportunities and mentor-ship with me. Now it's my turn to pay them back. I know that some of the people I mentor and guide will do the same for new people perpetuating our hobby, craft and yes, even art.

The choice was really hard to make, Robert and I had settled on ten as a manageable number of people. As it happens we finalised with twelve on the day. How to pick 10 people out of 500 or so community members? I needed a balance of photographers who could deliver for Robert and the cast but also people who could use the opportunity to learn, perhaps even fail then workshop into an experience. George and I agonised over the choices and finally settled on a list and started to make contact. We were on.

The scenes were powerful and varied, ranging from every aspect of lighting imaginable. The low light as always was massively challenging and high ISO was necessary. High ISO combined with the atmospherics lead to noise that had to be dealt with. Fortunately, not too bad and LR 5 was more than up to the task of cleaning up.

Often it was possible to take advantage of the situation to craft images such as the steamy one above which while not that useful to the play cast made me happy!

Thanks to the wonderful cast and crew for putting on the show just for the photographers and putting up with our needing to flit in and out of their scenes and to move things around to capture the best possible light.

Very low light is the enemy of the photographer, you need a fast shutter to freeze motion or perhaps capture just the right blur and maintain an adequate depth of field. These needs really don't gel all that well with low light. Using flash is generally unacceptable and in smoke haze environments such as this won't work anyway. You need to work with the lighting you've got. Move with it. Where the colouring doesn't suit your taste monochrome might be the answer.

As always I'm interested in more performing arts opportunities. Please make contact via comments if you're interested in having me along to your play.

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