Sunday, 21 February 2010

Don't look down!

You get to go to some pretty strange places in the name of photography and today is no exception.

A local junior amature dramatics society has put on a production of "Alice in Wonderland" and once again, I'm the official photographer. I've been lucky enough to photograph a number of theatre productions over the past few years, several of which have been in the same theatre. That's given me the opportunity to get to know many of the hard working backroom boys (and girls) and it was that connection that got me a very unusual invite.

If you've ever been to a theatre and looked up at the lights you may have spotted the lighting gallery. It's a small walkway which gives access to the lights and is where the spotlight operators sit and work during the performance. For one performance only it was permitted to use it as a photo platform.

As you can see from this wide shot (taken just for this post), it's a good job I don't have a fear of heights! That said I was really aware of making sure I didn't drop anything. I took off the lens hood (just in case), I strapped my camera bag to a railing. I even wore my camera strap round my neck and that's something I NEVER ever do normally.

The initial results look great. The elevated position really shows off the lighting effects and will compliment the more traditionally shot (stage height) photos I took during the dress rehearsal.

In the next post I'll share with you a few more images and give you some top theatre photography tips.


Anonymous said...

great image gavin! I can see how they'd compliment the stage height images well! I think the theater company will be proud!

On a technical note, I think it might be a good idea to clone out some of the tape-markers on the stage. Keep some mystery about how the actors so effortlessly know where to go ;)

Anyway, looking forward to the tips and maybe I can score a gig with a local theater myself...I would love to do something similar :)

michel said...

just curious, i've never had the opportunity to get on the lighting gallery but i was asked a few years ago to make photos of a stage production. I shot mostly from the stage sides, and back. I wouldn't have even dared ask to go up to the gallery (i'm scared of heights). What lens did you use for shooting from up there? It looks like a fairly wide angle. I assume you have to use fast glasses to freeze the action, or is the stage lighting bright enough to shoot at a decent shutter speed? Regards - michel

Gavin Hoey Training said...

Hi Michel

The blog post shot was taken with a Sigma 18-50 f2.8 lens with the lens zoomed to around 30mmm. Wide open shutter speeds reached the dizzying heights (no pun intended) of around 1/250th sec.

More details and tips are coming in tomorrows blog post.

Ian W said...

There's a video around somewhere that shows McNally rigging kit on top of the Empire State Building. Now *that's* scary.

BTW some theaters have a hatch in the ceiling for a follow spot rather than a walkway. I've shot from there and it's a lot safer for all concerned.


JAJT said...

Hi Gavin,
Great shot looking forward to the next blog.
BTW the Joe McNally Empire State Building shot can be seen at

Post a Comment