I thought I'd highlight a few of my favourite shots (some not included in the blog) and give you a bit of an insight into what was going on when I took them. First up is this shot of Kenneth Alan Taylor waiting in the wings, partly dressed for his entrance minus wig.
Kenneth seems to cut a rather lonely figure here, waiting in the wings for his entrance but in reality it's the opposite. He doesn't have to go on for the first 15 minutes of the show and rather than sit it out in his dressing room, he comes down to watch the performance from this vantage point. As director and writer, he's checking out what goes down well with the audience, chatting to the actors and crew and sharing in their laughter if the performers ad lib. He looks like he belongs to this space - fitting for a man who has written, directed and acted in the pantomime in this space for over 25 years.
Technical lowdown. All shot on Nikon D3s. Here I used a 35mm lens, ISO 2500, F1.6 at 1/25 sec. I didn't use a tripod but instead, found a handy piece of scenery which was just the right height to get the shot.
When I shoot backstage, I work with the available light. Bringing additional light in adds an extra layer of artifice which isn't 'true' to the scenario and also is distracting for the performer. It does make it a lot harder and means you have to wait for the moment when the performer happens to stand in the light. On this project, many of the dames had separate quick change areas which were all lit to different degrees. Here, Nigel Ellacott's change area is really close to the stage so it's pretty dark, apart from one light near a long mirror. My only choice in order to get something was to borrow a head torch from the stage manager so I could illuminate a bit from the front. I saw this moment happening with Nigel's dresser using her head torch to light up his buttons and I switched on my head torch on which cast just enough light on his face, I quickly took the shot and then switched off again. The ambient light behind is coming from the stage.
Technical lowdown: Shot on a 50mm lens, at ISO4000, f.2, 1/200sec.
After a really successful shoot with Graham Hoadly during his matinee at Richmond, I was just about to pack away my camera when I found him waiting near the fire escape for his final curtain call. He gets so hot during the performance and this is his only chance to get a breath of fresh air in between the frantic changes. The sides of the costume open up into a fan onstage, so he has the additional difficulty of having to navigate his way through the doors.
Technical lowdown: This was shot on a 24-70mm lens. Not ideal given the appalling lighting conditions, so I had to pump ISO up to 8000, take it at the widest aperture of 2.8 and then risked shutter speed at 1/100 so I was lucky to get a steady shot.
I couldn't' believe my luck when I saw Donovan's gorgeous Irish Wolfhound in the dressing room with him. It made for such a wonderful scenario. He seemed very curious about the whole process of Donovan getting ready and was trying to get in on the act, as you can see from the other photos in the series.
Technical lowdown: 24-70mm lens, ISP 3200, f2.8, 200 sec.
I was shooting in Christoper Biggins quick change area and he put on this wonderful Carmen Miranda headdress. I had a 50mm lens on at the time so in order to get it all in, I jumped up on a chair. He turned round, looked up and me gave me this wry smile. The shot, as a result looks almost set up, but it's captured in seconds before his next entrance.
Technical lowdown: 50mm lens, ISO 2000, f2.5, 1/200 sec.