I love going to the Theatre. I love listening to music. So i was ecstatic when Kate from The Burnavon Theatre in Cookstown got in touch and asked me to photograph Irish traditional group, “Beoga.” Not only would i get to go to the theatre, but i would get to listen to some amazing music.
Now traditionally i specialise in theatre photography and not so much music photography but i simply applied the same basic principles to this job to get a similar result. This job would be about High ISO, stabilisation, low aperture and high shutter speeds.
Initially i had presumed that i would be by myself on this job. I was worried because this meant that i would be limited in where i could move around whilst Beoga were playing. How ever when i walked in to the theatre i seen loads of cameras. Beoga were filming this gig as part of their ten year anniversary celebrations. This was very good for me. Their presence there meant that i had a little more flexibility in where i could move.
For the first half of the gig i sat in the pit along with the camera man who was getting the panning shots. This was a great spot though not without its downsides. Yes it was right at the front but because there was a camera on a dolly moving parallel to the stage i could not get up and move as the vibrations from my movement could ruin the camera mans shot. That being said i sat to the left hand side of the semi submerged orchestra pit and got shooting. I flicked the D3s to quiet mode so the camera shutter would not be as obvious to those sitting in the front row. Even during some of the louder Beoga tracks it is still audible. At least in quiet mode i could take the shot, hold the shutter up, lower to the camera into my body then release thus significantly damping the sound of the shutter closing.
The images i had to take were all about timing. Beoga are a very busy band on stage meaning even when playing they move around quite a bit. I had to keep the ISO value high which would give me a high shutter speed meaning sharp images with no blur of hands or heads. A lot of the images were shot around 1/250th and beyond. Another thing which is always important is catch lights in peoples eyes. Now this is not achievable all the time but i tried to wait for the performers to look up so the stage lights would catch in their eyes giving that unique point of light.
After the end of the first half i made my way up above the audience and performers in the to roof of the theatre so i could shoot down on them rather than from eye level. This presented me with a different set of challenges, the first being shots taken from directly above dont always work. When i took shots of Ballet Irelands Nutcracker several weeks ago it worked perfectly as there was depth and movement to the performance. I decided to move from right above them to the crawl space right above the audience where the main lighting was situated. This meant that i could should at an angle to the stage and capture the performers faces.
Most of the images i shot on my 70-200mm F2.8 VR lens. Yes it costs an arm and a leg but oh my goodness is it one amazing piece of kit. If you are even thinking about your telephoto needs and are looking to get a new lens i can not rate this lens highly enough, as would thousands of other photographers around the world.