Felix the Photographer

Felix the cat, the wonderful, wonderful cat. Whenever he gets in a fix, he reaches into his bag of tricks!”

I know the feeling.

Under the theater's work lights, the eyes of my central subject were in shadow.

I usually shoot theater rehearsals in available light, but most of the time I’m trying to capture one or two actors and I can wait until they step into a well-lit portion of the stage. The Elite Theatre Company‘s rehearsal of As It Is In Heaven was not business as usual. After just a few shots, I knew I would have to reach into my bag of tricks.

12 Actresses, small stage, no stage lights in place. About twenty frames in, all I could see on my LCD were white aprons and dark eye sockets. Some of the images looked like they might make pretty good photographs, but not good publicity photographs. I asked the director if I could use flash and he gave me the go-ahead.

With on-camera flash and diffuser, the images are less dramatic, but you can see all five actresses without any harsh shadows on their faces. An editor or publicist looking for a safe choice would prefer this image.

Knowing I would be moving around the stage, I chose the Nikon SB-800 flash and Gary Fong Lightsphere diffuser. I set the camera to manual and the flash to TTL with -1/3 flash exposure compensation. This camera-mounted setup provides portability, power, and broad, diffuse light. It must have driven the actresses crazy, but at least the publicist will have some choices.

I try not to carry all of my photo gear to every assignment, but a powerful flash and a versatile diffuser should be in everyone’s bag of tricks.

Some of the available light images are suitable for publicity, but I could not depend on capturing enough images this way. Even my smallest camera bag always holds a flash and diffuser.

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Filed under Camera Gear, Dance and Theater, Lighting

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