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Back to Your Seat Young Lady

Jun 3, 2019

Here's Jesse Hutchinson – who's got to be the king of stage facial expressions – attempting to pose his doll-like model, Mary Cate, for a painting. One of the funnier skits from the Vaudeville show at the Opera House on the 24th and 25th. I realize that performance stills is hardly a "category" of B&W photography, and that this is definitely the kind of thing most people want to see in full color, but I find it a lot of fun and really like some of my results. And, as always, by eliminating the color, everything else than an image has to say has free reign. 

I'm getting a little more used to this taking RAW exposures of stage lighting, especially with those dastardly flashing rainbow lights, and turning them into B&Ws. While you're shooting, it's pretty much pot-luck – you have no control whatsoever over the lighting. The results range from almost normal to totally unusable – a foreground in pure blue or orange light for example. Then there are those few times where the lighting is actually providing a positive effect in B&W totally divorced from the color. This is one of those.

The foreground here was lit with a combination of colored lights, none of them blue. The bckground was illuminated almost completely in blue. While converting the RAW file, I simply dialed down the blue slider to 0%, rendering a background only slightly lit, and isolating the foreground as if it were in a spotlight. This succeeds in duplicating, in a sense, what I was seeing – the human eye, in sync with the brain, concentrates on one aspect of an image, reducing everything else to almost nothing. Tha camera can't do this – the photographer can.

Havre de Grace related images can be found on the Havre de Grace Street page – larger and downloadable.

Shooting Note – of course, for this kind of thing, I use my 55-200 (84-305 equivalent) zoom from the back. It handles anything I throw at it – almost. The one exception is when there is a need for a full-stage+ wide shot. that is when even the wings are in use. For that I would need to be able to get to something between 45 and 50mm (say 68 to 75mm equivalent). I’ve been bringing along a second body with the appropriate lens attached, but switching cameras while shooting such action is quite a pain. Well, I believe I’ve come up with a solution – I can simply mount the second camera on a tripod, pre-zoom to include everything, pre-focus manually and hang a remote release from the darn thing. That way all I have to do is click once to wake the camera up and then take my shot(s).

Interestingly, I've never seen Ansel Adams qoted as "taking a photograph – it's always "making" a photograph.