Burns Night

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Because I am a Belfast photographer I get asked on an almost daily basis to cover events happening around the city.  One of the bigger events that passes every year without fail is the now much celebrated Burns Night.  For those that don’t have a clue who Rabbie Burns is check out this Wiki link.  In one sentence he was a Scottish poet who had very close connections to Northern Ireland due to the local Ulster Scots population.  For the last several years the Northern Ireland Ulster Scots Agency have hosted an evening in the Waterfront Hall in Belfast celebrating the Scottish Baird.

My evening at the Waterfront Hall would be broke into two sections.  The first part of the Burns Night evening would see me photographing various groups of VIP guests.  These ranged from local MLAs, other special guests and performers.  It was a very chaotic shoot location as there was no screened off area for me to work in.  That being said I just got on with the job and got the shots needed.

The next part of the Burns Night evening would be capturing the main event.  There was a fantastic range of performers right throughout the evening.  Dan Gordon ably guided the audience through the night who were treated to singing, dancing, piping and lots of amazing music from the Ulster Orchestra.  The only stipulation that was placed upon me was that no flash could be used at any stage whilst in the main auditorium.  The BBC were filming Burns Night so my speedlights had to be retired for this part of the evening.

Looking back it actually worked in my favour.  Whilst I can set up speedlights very quickly in any location moving them around in such a big space (with loads of stairs!) can be very tricky.  Also with so many people in the building the last thing I needed was someone tripping over a light stand.  No matter where I place light stands someone will walk in to them!

This lack of flash usage meant that I had to crank up the ISO values on both cameras.  The hall was very well lit but I still had to shoot around ISO1600/3200 and F2.8.  Thanks to the high ISO values I was able to keep a high shutter speed.  This come in very useful when I was taking photos of the dancers.  All  I had to do afterwards was apply a bit of noise reduction in Lightroom 5 during the post processing stage and the images were as sharp as ever.

All images were shot on Nikon D600 and D750 bodies with 24-70 and 70-200 lenses attached.


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