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Photographing in Theater

posted Feb 17, 2010, 1:14 PM by Nenad Hodnikovic
Recently I went to see and photograph the dance play in HNK Varaždin, CRO theater. The "Vindi" dance troop prepared "Alice in the Wonderland" and performed excellent. It was not my first encounter neither with "Vindi" girls, nor with the very nice interior and stage of HNK Varaždin.

However, photographing a theater show may prove very difficult task.

The Light - Another light hunting story!

If you want to pay the respect to the artists, then you have to leave your flashlight at home, or at least - force the shut down state of the built-in flash. So, there's all the light that performers need, and any flashing is at least not polite...

Since there is not a rock spectacle light show, you can't expect to have very bright lamps and reflectors pointed toward stage. Forget low ISO sensitivity and turn it to maximal possible value that will enable you shooting some well focused scenes.

It's quite possible that you end up with some blurred pictures, namely - if you are not a pro photographer, with big DSLR cameras and speedy lenses, and have instead compact, ultra zoom or entry level DSLR models with modest lens... - you may not be able to shoot at very high shutter speeds.

The good news is that you may end up with some very fine pictures... with good contrast between the performers and the dark stage background. And... having to shoot with wide open aperture... you'll end up with very soft images... more natural in color than ones you produce using flashlight.

I presented here the show chronologically and have intentionally left all images intact, with no post processing nor tweaking in PS or other similar programs. The slide show consists of 60+ images, some of them being way less then perfect, just to illustrate the difficulties of theater show photography. Your comments are welcome!

The stuff: Canon 350D, Canon EF 85, f1.8 lens, set at f/2.0 to 2.2.  Shutter speeds range from 1/60 to 1/100 sec.

For the last three images in the slide show below I used Canon EF 28-90 lens, set at f/4.0 and 4.5.

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