I was asked to take photos of the rehearsals of three plays that are being performed at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. Two are directed by Matthew Lillard of Scream fame.
The plays are:
Fault Lines by Stephen Belber
Filthy Talk for Troubled Times by Neil LaBute
Pulse from Acts Of Redemption by Lorna Irvine
I guessed in advance that the lighting would be a problem. When I got there I saw that even with the lights turned up, the overall light levels were low. And if the lights were turned up fully, it would alter or destroy the atmosphere.
I used my Fuji X100s and I had no flash apart from the tiny flash built in to the camera, so I was working with just the what the camera could do. I have a Nikon camera, but I thought that the Fuji would copy with low shutter speeds better because unlike SLRs, it doesn’t have a mirror box and therefore no mirror slap – see below about that.
Off We Go
I didn’t want to let anyone down but I wasn’t that nervous for some reason. We got started with the first play – Fault Lines – and I worked out how to work.
We got the actors to play out a couple of minutes of a scene. I noted parts where the actors looked dynamic and the scene looked like a tableau. Then I asked them to do the scene again and I called out for them to stop at the desired moment. They stopped moving and I got the shot.
Had they been moving, everything would have been blurred because I was using (had to use) a slow shutter speed.
It was a privilege to watch the two actors snap into their roles and the scenes and repeat them so I could get the shot.
Then after a break it was on to the second play – Filthy Talk for Troubled Times – which is the one that was reviewed in the Times along with my photo.
I knew the shots would be good enough for the Web because the pixel dimension are so small. But I didn’t know how the shots would hold up in print. So I am pleased that they did OK.
Having a photo published in a leading newspaper known worldwide is interesting. I feel that the unknown has become known. The unknown was how good you have to be to get a photo in the Times. Of course, the PR firm that is promoting the play pushed the photo as well. But the Times could have said they were not going to publish a poor photo.
So, it was good enough to pass. And so now I feel that the unknown has become known.
This is a quick explanation of one of the problems with SLRs compared to non-SLR cameras.
Look through the optical viewfinder of an SLR and you see right out through the lens.
SLRs do this by diverting the light that enters the lens through a series of mirrors and prisms to the photographer’s eye. That mechanism flips up out of the way for a fraction of a second when you take a shot in order to let light onto the sensor. Then it flips back again.
And that ‘flip’ shakes the camera – and at low shutter speeds it can make a shot look blurred. It’s called mirror slap and you can read more about how digital cameras work here.
I knew that if I took two cameras I would dither over which one to use – So I took my Fuji and did not take the Nikon.