Man In The Moon

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A story of survival, Man In The Moon from Northern Ireland’s well-known screen writer, playwright and director Pearse Elliott, centres on Belfast man Sean Doran who is facing a number of challenges in his life. The play is set at the Half Moon Lake, a natural lagoon in the middle of Lenadoon Housing Estate in west Belfast, which although beautiful is known as a place of tragedy.

Usually for me working with a theatre company means i come in at the last moment before the show opens to the public.  I take production stills during the last technical rehearsal, the show thats the last run before the real thing.  This means that i get the actors in costume, on a proper stage and with full lighting.  With Man In The Moon however i was involved a lot earlier than usual.

The first part of my involvement in Man In The Moon was a quick photoshoot with Pearse Elliott and Ciaran Nolan at The Grand Opera House in Belfast.  Photos were needed at a fairly early stage to help begin the promotion of the show.  I will have to admit that i was a little nervous about this photoshoot.  Pearse and Ciaran are two well known comedic figures in Northern Ireland.  The idea of getting the two of them together and to stop talking for long enough was a daunting challenge!  I shot most of the images below with two speedlights and a Nikon D3s with 24-70mm F2.8 lens.

The next stage of the marketing and promotion of the show was an on site shoot at the Half Moon Lake up in Lenadoon, actually i think its a lagoon.  But anyway its a lovely spot for a photoshoot.  Again as before these images would be used in local press and online media to help promote the show and get people to buy tickets!  It wasn’t great weather to begin with but the light drizzle didn’t get any heavier.  The big problem we did have though was light.  It was getting dark fast and the low cloud cover wasn’t helping either.  We got to work straight away once everyone arrived.  We had to get shots of Ciaran in character around the Half Moon Lake.  As well as photographs Will who is a videographer was there to film a short promo reel as well.  Again all of these images were shot with two speedlights and a D3s with 24-70mm F2.8 lens.

So two photoshoots down, one more to go.  The next and probably the most important set of photos would be the production stills.  The rehearsals were held in a bar in West Belfast called The Roddies.  This was probably the easier of the three photoshoots as it was inside and i didn’t have to use speedlights.  The hard part of production stills is usually the combination of movement and limited light.  Yes there is stage lighting but its often very directional and with limited ambient light you really have to crank up the ISO and lower your shutter speed.  F2.8 is also a must have option!  This being a one man show was quite a luxury for me.  Quite often when doing production stills you have to dart around the area getting images of all the actors but with Man In The Moon it was just me and Ciaran.  I had two cameras out for this shoot.  I had the D3s with the 70-200 and the D600 with the 24-70.  Bizarrely despite being the new kid on the block, the D600 has no where near the ISO control of the D3s.  Setting them both at ISO2000 i had to crank up the noise control option on the D600 RAWs far more than the D3s.  The old dog still has it!

Usually this is my last interaction with a theatre company but there was one more item on the list, vox pops at The Baby Grand.  I was tasked with meeting members of the audience after they seen Man In The Moon.  I had to pick 6 people that i could interview for 30 seconds and get their feelings about the show.  Thankfully i had lots of willing volunteers including local Belfast playwright, Martin Lynch.  Vox pops are pretty easy to gather, the important thing is that the quality is 100% when recording the people speaking.  I used my D600 with the 24-70mm lens.  I also had a RODE shotgun mic attached.  I needed something very directional because the space was quite noisy and i needed to make sure i got clear vocals.


The show is still touring at the moment so if you have not yet had a chance to see it i highly recommend it.  Take a scoot over to the Brassneck website for more info.

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