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Thursday, December 15, 2011

Theatre: Babes on Stage

The beginning of December, I covered the dress rehearsal for Baltimore Actors Theatre, (BAT) Babes in Toyland. The production is performed in Krauchaar Auditorium at Goucher college, I consider it a pretty big show. One of the neat things is it allows actors of all ages to participate, from a 6 month old baby all the way up to some folks that have been doing this show for DECADES.

My three years can seem like a pretty short time span to the actors that have been doing this so long. BAT is in it's 52nd year. The Conservatory is their full time arts preparatory school, and they also offer summer workshops.  Oregon Ridge Dinner Theater is their home stage most of the rest of the year where they host many smaller scale productions throughout the year. The food is always very good! (So I think with my stomach too...)

Left is red lighting, right is green. Adjusted so costumes look right, but notice trees still glow!
Know where they will be!
The last few years I've shot a lot of theatre. Honestly, it can drive you nuts. Despite the many bright lights used on stage, the actual light to the camera is very dim. On many productions the lighting is always changing or a mixture of many different types of colors. It can be a real challenge to get good shots.  And lighting designers seem to love RED lights, which generally digital cameras don't depending on the sensor. It's why I've really liked shooting the camera's RAW file format, I can deal much better with odd lighting scenarios in processing.

I find it helps to be familiar with the production, so you can anticipate where to be in each scene. For Babes in Toyland, that was easy after three years. The main actors have remained mostly the same, and they don't change the blocking much either.

Also, two cameras with different range lenses really helps get several different view angles without too much running around the stage. On a bigger stage this is a huge benefit, it can be very tiring running around to get the shot! Sometimes to get far enough back with the bigger zoom lens you have to go to the back of the seating which brings the view point angle up high. For this show, I used a 70-200 Nikon VR, and an 18-200 Nikon VR (for the wide angle end) on a D200 and a D70 respectively. As another benefit to using RAW format, it's very difficult to tell the two camera images apart since they don't apply their own image processing to the photo. 

D70 capture is on left, D200 on right. Very similar color using RAW output

See the full gallery, purchase and download photos from this set: CMAldridge Photography Babes in Toyland

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