The Incredible Book Eating Boy was originally a book by OIiver Jeffers which has now just finished its theatrical run in The Mac Belfast. Co-produced by Cahoots NI The Incredible Book Eating Boy is a story about a young boy called Henry. He loves books. Books for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Yes, Henry loves books so much that he EATS them. Henry gobbles and gorges on all sorts – hardbacks, paperbacks, storybooks, dictionaries, joke books, atlases and even maths manuals – and the more he eats, the cleverer he gets. But, just as Henry is turning into a real smarty-pants, things start to go awry.
As with all theatre based photo shoots this would be technically difficult right from the start. Production stills photography is one area where you never have enough of anything. You never have enough light, time, space, opportunities, light, light, light and light. It is in my opinion one area were having pro level kit and the skills to go along with it really counts.
I get asked a lot “why do you need such an expensive camera” and this is an area when i am glad i do. After starting off on basic equipment and working my way up through different types of gear i picked up the skills necessary to use the hardware. Now having a powerful camera means i can take the pictures i want without any limits. Having “an expensive camera” means i can use what i have learnt over the last several years and not only impress the client with the finished product but blow them away.
I do not want my clients to be happy with what i hand them after a photo shoot, i want them to wonder how i got “that shot.”
This shoot more so than recent theatre shoots provided one major problem, depth. With theatre photography unless the performance is well lit the lack of “wide” light instead of spot lighting means high iso, wide apertures and fast shutter speeds. With most productions the stage performance area is fixed on a simple left right 2D axis. With The Incredible Book Eating Boy it had the left right performance area at the front of the stage but it also went back away from the audience.
So already we are using an aperture of F2.8 or less. Your ISO value is going to be up and around 2000 if not higher and your shutter speed is fast enough to capture movement without blur but not fast enough that your images are too dark. Because i was shooting with a 70-200 lens i could zoom towards the back of the stage. Because the light has longer to travel through the lens it means the settings you were using dont work any more. With this lens i couldn’t manage anything better than F2.8. So you are forced to either reduce your shutter speed, increase your ISO value or a combination of both.
This did not take years to learn. What took years to learn was how to consider all of this and change settings in a heart beat without having to think about it.