I like the simplicity of this image. I’d gone to Cardiff to take some street photographs. I visited the National Museum which is located fairly close to the city centre and is always worth a visit. There really wasn’t any planning involved, I was climbing the stairs to the upper gallery and happened to turn around to see this solitary figure going up the opposite stairway. The scene seemed to have a sense of balance which to my mind was helped by the bronze figure leaning on his staff.
I rendered the image in black and white as it gave the photo more of a graphic quality also colour added nothing to the photograph.
It was nice to be invited by MD Cathy Metcalf to record some images of the musicians at work in the Dolman theatre pit. It’s a theatre I know very well, I’ve spent many hours working here as a musician and occasionally as an MD.going back all the way to 1978. Although many things have changed during this time the Dolman theatre pit still has a special kind of magic. Theatre pits are generally a bit cramped , full of wires trailing across the floor and going god know’s where. There’s microphones and all kinds of paraphernalia thats necessary to enable the musicians to undertake their work.
‘….a special kind of magic…’
Generally the theatre pits walls and floors are painted black so as not to distract the audiences gaze from the stage and overall there is an ambience of intimacy thats often reinforced by excellent comradeship and a joy of making high quality music.
Anyone that follows my blog will know that this the second time this year that I’ve recorded musicians working in a theatre pit. Earlier this year I enjoyed a session in Cardiff’s New Theatre capturing images of musicians working on the UK tour of ‘The Sound of Music’.[NEW THEATRE GALLERY HERE] The main difference for me was that on the New Theatre gig I only knew two musicians but on the Dolman session not only did I know all of the musicians but have worked with most of them many times before.
‘…the lowest iso setting was about 6400.’
Technically speaking, dealing with very low light levels can be a bit tricky. The answer is normally a trade off between (digital) noise and shutter speed. Personally I feel its much better to have a blur free image with a small amount of digital noise than a noise free image that has camera shake! From what i can remember the lowest iso setting was about 6400.
Shutter noise was much less of an issue on this particular gig (Legally Blonde) as the band and music is naturally quite loud. It was easy to get away with a mechanical shutter most of the time. I found that I only switched to an electronic shutter when photographing during the lib parts of the show.
I had a great time taking these images. The calibre of these musicians is incredible. They manage to to turn in incredible performances night after night without missing a beat. Sincere thanks to all of them for allowing me to crawl around and snatch some of the photos seen in this blog. If you’d like to see more visit the gallery page or click this LINK.
This is an environment I know very well but as a musician and not a photographer. Theatre photography is an area I’ve always wanted to try. I’ve worked in many theatres in Wales and England as gigging ‘pit’ musician during the last 40 years or so. It can be a very special place, intimate, occasionally intense nearly always business like and focused. Pit musicians have to be able to turn on a great performance, instantly and sometimes after long periods of doing very little. Theatre work is quite a craft and there’s often a great sense of camaraderie. I’d often thought that I’d really enjoy a three hour theatre photography session documenting some of the moments that typically happen in the orchestra pit.
‘…a very special place, intimate, occasionally intense nearly always business like…’
When I discovered that a good friend of mine was on a UK tour with The Sound of Music I asked her if she could approach the music director to see if he’d grant permission for me to sit amongst the musicians and take photographs.I was delighted when he agreed. Here was my chance!
I arrived at the theatre in plenty of time to find some of the best locations to shoot from but also to meet all of the musicians, firstly to thank them and to explain what I was doing and secondly to tell them to ignore me. Shooting in an orchestra pit environment can pose some very special problems for the photographer. Low light and camera noise are certainly at the top of my list.
‘The Fuji XT2 was incredible and performed brilliantly.’
Fuji XT2 Camera
.This was the first time I’d used my new Fuji X T2 camera n this type of situation. Technically the Fuji offered some big advantages. Many Fuji lenses have Optical Image Stabilisation (OIS) and this is implemented brilliantly. Also the camera has two basic ways of operating the shutter, mechanically or electronically. In this latter mode its quite possible to set the camera up to be able to shoot completely silently. I mean completely silent!!
Silence is golden
The only disadvantage using the electronic shutter can happen under certain lighting conditions. This shows up as a strobing effect. The Fuji XT2 was incredible and performed brilliantly. I managed to use both types of shutter mechanisms during the performance. The mechanical shutter during loud passages of music and the electronic (silent) shutter during periods of no musical activity.
The newly developed Fuji X CMOS cropped frame sensor is incredible. It’s also worth mentioning that camera implements a dynamic ISO setting. This can optimise the shutter speed against a higher ISO setting. This was really useful and even when operating at 12500 ISO, great results can still be had.
Lenses used were a Fuji X 10mm-24mm a Fuji X 50mm F1.2 and even a Fuji X 100mm-400mm zoom (hand held!)
To view more images visit the gallery or click this LINK