Fame

Shortly after I posted the images from my first trip to the Greenwood Theatre, Catherine invited me back to shoot another play. This time, a society of students were performing Fame, and unlike the production of All’s Well That Ends Well, there would be a big set and big musical numbers, hopefully meaning I’d get a different sort of picture for the project to decorate the wall of the theatre foyer with photos.

I arrived earlier at the Greenwood than I did for All’s Well, and things were still all being set up.

1/50sec, f/3.5, ISO 4000, exposure bias -0.33, 18mm
1/50sec, f/3.5, ISO 4000, exposure bias -0.33, 18mm

This was all part of the plan. After only shooting a dress rehearsal the last time, I was keen to get more behind-the-scenes shots of the theatre. I even took the concept to its literal extreme, and took some shots behind the scenery.

1/15sec, f/8, ISO 6400, exposure bias -0.33, 18mm
1/15sec, f/8, ISO 6400, exposure bias -0.33, 18mm
1/13sec, f/3.5, ISO 4000, exposure bias -0.33, 18mm
1/13sec, f/3.5, ISO 4000, exposure bias -0.33, 18mm

That last shot at first glance may seem a bit scary, but I loved its cluttered look. (A safety curtain, by the way, is ironically far more dangerous than a normal curtain if it were to fall on you)

Having the opportunity to shoot around the auditorium itself with the house lights up was also useful, although there was a little more hustle and bustle than I might have liked.

1/160sec, f/3.5, ISO 4000, exposure bias -1.0, 18mm
1/160sec, f/3.5, ISO 4000, exposure bias -1.0, 18mm

Of course, not everyone was rushing around.

1/60sec, f/5, ISO 4000, exposure bias -1.0, 57mm
1/60sec, f/5, ISO 4000, exposure bias -1.0, 57mm

Longtime readers (with eidetic memories) might recognise the guy at the back of the shot as Simon, who works at the theatre and was the tech on duty that day.

There was a host of shots to be had that I wouldn’t normally be able to get if I was shooting just purely a show.

1/640sec, f/5.6, ISO 4000, exposure bias -1.0, 64mm
1/640sec, f/5.6, ISO 4000, exposure bias -1.0, 64mm

Before long they began to set up the lights for the show, giving me an opportunity to take a few interesting images (and also allow me to shut up for a little bit and show you some photographs).

1/125sec, f/3.5, ISO 2000, exposure bias -1.0, 18mm
1/125sec, f/3.5, ISO 2000, exposure bias -1.0, 18mm
1/200sec, f/3.5, ISO 5000, exposure bias -2.33, 18mm
1/200sec, f/3.5, ISO 5000, exposure bias -2.33, 18mm
1/160sec, f/5.6, ISO 4000, exposure bias -2.0, 135mm
1/160sec, f/5.6, ISO 4000, exposure bias -2.0, 135mm
1/100sec, f/5.6, ISO 4000, exposure bias -1.33, 92mm
1/100sec, f/5.6, ISO 4000, exposure bias -1.33, 92mm

Soon things were all getting into place for a dress rehearsal. All that was left to do was for Simon to tape the bottom of this photograph back on.

1/40sec, f/5, ISO 4000, exposure bias -1.67, 41mm
1/40sec, f/5, ISO 4000, exposure bias -1.67, 41mm

And with that, the show started. This being a musical, there was a lot more musical numbers and a bit less acting compared to All’s Well That Ends Well.

1/100sec, f/5.6, ISO 5000, exposure bias -1.0, 135mm
1/100sec, f/5.6, ISO 5000, exposure bias -1.0, 135mm

Admittedly in that shot he could just as easily be talking as singing. Hang on, this next one is clearly a song and dance number.

1/80sec, f/5, ISO 5000, exposure bias -1.0, 55mm
1/80sec, f/5, ISO 5000, exposure bias -1.0, 55mm

And of course, it wouldn’t be a musical without the patented jazz hands.

1/200sec, f/5.6, ISO 5000, exposure bias -1.0, 133mm
1/200sec, f/5.6, ISO 5000, exposure bias -1.0, 133mm

Now, this is where fans of Fame will have to forgive me, because much like last time I wasn’t really following the story and have no idea who these characters were or what they were doing. These two, for instance, seemed to be some sort of inadvertently platonic couple (it is important at this point to stress that I really don’t care).

1/100sec, f/5.6, ISO 6400, exposure bias -1.67, 113mm
1/100sec, f/5.6, ISO 6400, exposure bias -1.67, 113mm

This being a story about school, there was obviously some angst in there too.

1/80sec, f/5, ISO 5000, exposure bias -2.0, 57mm
1/40sec, f/5.6, ISO 5000, exposure bias -1.33, 135mm
1/40sec, f/5.6, ISO 5000, exposure bias -1.33, 135mm

I took a slightly different approach to white balancing this time round. I once again shot on auto white balance, but I didn’t put as much effort into correcting the colour to more natural tones; as it was a musical and more creatively lit it didn’t look so jarring to have more tungsten hues in the images.

1/100sec, f/5, ISO 6400, exposure bias -2.0, 41mm
1/100sec, f/5, ISO 6400, exposure bias -2.0, 41mm
1/160sec, f/4, ISO 6400, exposure bias -1.0, 70mm
1/160sec, f/4, ISO 6400, exposure bias -1.0, 70mm

Even as the rehearsal continued I was keen to get more technical behind-the-scenes shots, so I snuck off to the control room to see what was going on.

1/125sec, f/3.5, ISO 6400, exposure bias -1.33, 18mm
1/125sec, f/3.5, ISO 6400, exposure bias -1.33, 18mm
1/60sec, f/4, ISO 6400, 25mm
1/60sec, f/4, ISO 6400, 25mm

Meanwhile, on stage, some sort of narrative was happening.

1/125sec, f/5, ISO 5000, exposure bias -1.67, 52mm
1/125sec, f/5, ISO 5000, exposure bias -1.67, 52mm

But don’t worry, it wasn’t long before it all returned to signing.

1/30sec, f/5, ISO 3200, exposure bias -1.67, 44mm
1/30sec, f/5, ISO 3200, exposure bias -1.67, 44mm

I used monochrome relatively often in this set of images. A lot of the shots seemed to lend themselves to black and white, and it sometimes did a good job of disguising otherwise distracting colour tones. This next image, for instance, was originally lit almost purely red, and I didn’t like how it looked; it looked like something out of a brothel. In black and white, it looks a lot simpler.

1/30sec, f/5.6, ISO 3200, exposure bias -1.0, 135mm
1/30sec, f/5.6, ISO 3200, exposure bias -1.0, 135mm

I still often find that I need to correct the red hues when shooting colour. By default, the 60D seems to capture reds marginally too violet. Much like the chromatic aberration I encounter with the 18-135mm, however, it is a simple fix in Aperture.

1/30sec, f/4.5, ISO 3200, exposure bias -2.0, 39mm
1/30sec, f/4.5, ISO 3200, exposure bias -2.0, 39mm

Much like the rehearsal of All’s Well, they had to skip to the end a bit. Unlike the Shakespearean play, however, this one ended with a full-cast jazz hander, as is, I believe, traditional (Macbeth, however, also ends this way, I’m told).

1/100sec, f/3.5, ISO 5000, exposure bias -1.0, 18mm
1/100sec, f/3.5, ISO 5000, exposure bias -1.0, 18mm

This has ended up a very different batch of images compared to the ones I got at All’s Well That Ends Well. Being there for the technical setup led to an interesting set up more generic theatre-based shots, and the downtime I had waiting for the rehearsal to start proper allowed me to get photographs of the theatre itself. When it comes to choosing images for the foyer – the main point of me being there taking photos – having ones that are clearly from the theatre in question should count for something (right? I genuinely don’t know the answer to that one).

My third and final trip to the Greenwood will be tomorrow, to shoot a dance show, which should give me yet another sort of image capture. This is one I’m a little prepared for, as Catherine took some pictures of the same show last year, and the images she has are a great mixture of colour and motion, something I’ve hitherto not really captured that well.

I’m very much treating this like a job, not least because it’s the closest I’ve yet come to one. I have ‘clients’ – in the form of Catherine, who has given me a brief, and the students putting on the show, who get a free bunch of images from their production. One thing I’m very keen to work on, however, is my turnaround time. It took a month to complete the images from All’s Well and post them, and these images have taken almost two from shooting to page. Not a good return if I want to do this sort of thing professionally. I aim to improve that for the dance show – indeed, I currently plan to take a single image from the rehearsal and have it ready to be used on the Greenwood’s social media pages the following day ahead of the paid performances.

Let’s see how that goes.

Much like last time, you can see a shortlist of my favourite images from the show below, or if you want to see them all, you can check out the full set on Flickr.

4 Comments

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  1. Great post, Rob! The shots sum the musical up really well, and I particularly like the lighting ones! 🙂

    Like

  2. Nice! I just watched the 1980 movie Fame on TV last night. It’s a fun, vibrant show with lots of cute, quirky characters. Your photos show a vibrant, quirky theatre group doing a smashing job of it! I hope they have a great run and you have the pleasure of adding these beautiful photos to the theatre.

    Like

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