Theater Assignment – Prep

I like shooting at The Grange. The small stage is generally well lit, and the actors are always friendly and cooperative.

I’ll be leaving in an hour or so for a quonset hut in Meiners Oaks, CA, where the Senga Classic Stage Company is preparing for Shakespeare At The Grange, An Elizabethan Romp!

I presume that I’ll make some headshots for the lobby and some publicity stills for local papers, so I’ll be shooting portraits before rehearsal and live action during rehearsal. How do I prepare?

First of all, I think about my lighting needs. My lighting accessories bag lives in the trunk of my car, so I always have stands, reflectors, umbrellas, gels and clamps with me. I don’t plan to use these tonight, however. There are 12 actors in this production, and very little time to shoot, so I expect to use an on-camera flash with a Gary Fong Lightsphere as my diffuser.  I’ll have the lighting bag nearby if needed.  The rehearsal will be shot without flash, so I just need to pack my fastest lenses and my steadiest hands.

Here’s what I’m doing to get ready:

1. I made sure I have extra camera and flash batteries in my bag.

2. I chose the lenses most likely to be used: 70-200, 85, and 17-55, and removed all others from the bag.

3. I made sure both flashes were in the bag, along with the Lightsphere.

4. I went into my camera menu and chose my portrait setting, which I’ll also use for the rehearsal shots. That means I’ll be shooting RAW, but the camera settings will include the lower contrast, slightly warmed “portrait” picture control, an auto-ISO range between 200 and 1600, and manual exposure mode.

5. I practiced my ergonomics, pointing the camera at various objects around the room and practicing technique.  It always helps to SQUEEZE the shutter release a few times before the real deal, and I like to find out at home if I have any heretofore unknown kinks in my neck or shoulder. I’ll be shooting for hours tonight, so I’ll also do quite a bit of stretching. This particular theater isn’t a theater – it’s a grange hall. the stage is elevated, but there is no slope to the floor of the hall.  Therefore, I’ll likely spend several hours tonight hanging off a stepladder with several pounds of camera gear hanging from me.

6. I ate a lot of protein. Some people would need carbohydrates for the energy, but I have a problem with low blood sugar, so I’ve learned to load my system with slow burning protein before a long shoot. When my blood sugar gets low, the first really noticeable symptom is blurry vision. Bad news on a shoot.

The Senga Classic Theater Company chooses unusual material and really makes actors stretch, providing me with lots of photogenic moments.

In tomorrow’s post, we’ll take a look at some of the shots from tonight, and see whether I prepared adequately.

1 Comment

Filed under Camera Settings, Dance and Theater, Lighting

One response to “Theater Assignment – Prep

  1. myrna

    awww …. raw! lots of good reminders here as i have another wedding this coming saturday as a second shooter

    after so many years of “clicking” with film i always forget that i should “squeeze” the shutter release with digital …

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