Sunday, October 17, 2010

Time for something new .....

A scene from Lyric Opera Productions' dress rehearsal of La Traviata in the National Concert Hall
Geek details:  Canon 5D MkII, 100-400mm L-series @100mm.  1/80sec @f6.3 ISO 4000.
  Those of you who know me will know that I have had a link with the theatre (mostly amateur) for years and have allied it with my love of photography.  In the last few years the opportunities to photograph productions have diminished a little partly due to the recession and also because more and more people are taking photos and putting them on Facebook and the like.  One company that I have worked with for a number of years is Lyric Opera headed up by Vivian Coates who, by the way, appears on the far right of this photo.
I am now their 'production photographer' and take a real pleasure in photographing their operas for several reasons.

I am regarded as one of the team and that I have a contribution to make even if it isn't necessarily to the actual production.  The operas they produce are brimming with quality.  The principals are a mixture of local and International performers of the highest standard.  The costumes and makeup are oustanding.  The lighting design and execution is superb and the singing and music from the orchestra is flawless.  When you understand that some of the 'chorus' will be principals in other productions; you get some idea of the standard.

I have a schedule I work to for Lyric Opera that involves attending rehearsals, the dress rehearsal and then one or two of the performances.  I will be constructing a page devoted to that at a later time.

I enjoy the dress rehearsal because I have free rein to wander all over the auditorium, backstage and actually on the stage.  I try not to be intrusive when going on the stage because I don't want to distract the cast on stage who are not only trying to give a performance but are familiarising themselves with the stage, the props and directions from Vivian and the conductor.  The disadvantage of taking photos of the dress rehearsal is that they are of little use to Vivian (no matter how good they are) for publication because they have to be performance shots.  So, I usually take up a position in the sound/lighting box and shoot the performance from there.  The biggest difficulty is that I can only shoot during 'the noisy bits' because of the shutter sound which, on the 5D MkII, is quite loud.  The advantage of going to rehearsals is that now I know where the action is going to take place and when.

After any shoot, I rate my photos 1,2 or 3.  '3' is for the bin.  '2' is a photo that is clean, well exposed, conforms more of less to composition rules etc., but is not one that you would spend much time on when browsing through an album that it was in.  '1' is a possible medal winner.  The shot above rated a '2'.  In colour it is a homogeneous mix and nothing draws your eye to any one area.  Also, there is no sense of drama either.  One of Vivian's talents is being able to create tableaus on stage with a large cast that avoids the rows of straight lines or equal clumps of men and women nodding at each other that you see in so many productions.  It is as though they were sprinkled randomly across the stage and, having seen each other for the first time, they interact naturally with each other.

This was one of those scenes shot from the balcony and I felt it deserved a different treatment that might portray what was going on in the scene.
I like that it has a style.  It reminds me of an artist I have seen before but can't remember.  I think the contrast and the HDR-style of it suits the scene.  I find my eye is now wandering around each of the individuals and the small groups looking more intently to see if I can figure out what they are up to.
If you are interested in it you can see the full-size image by clicking on it above.  I'm still working on this image as I see is changing my image slightly and showing up some 'defects'.

I'll be posting a few more photos from the performance anothe day ....

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