4.18.2012

The Laramie Project. Ten Years Later.


The Laramie Project (parts one and two) is a play about the murder of a gay college student in Laramie, Wyoming.  It's a powerful play about a heartrending event.  Zachary Scott Theater is producing the original play and it's follow up wherein the original writers go back to Laramie ten years later to understand the aftermath and the changes in the town.

It's a tough play to photograph and even tougher to watch.  It's an important piece of theatrical art that speaks to our ideas of tolerance and diversity in America.  These are images from the dress rehearsal of the "Ten Years Later."  (Click on any image to go to the gallery).






















Photographic notes:  I used two Sony a77 cameras to document the dress rehearsal.  As always, I did all of the photo documentation without any supplemental lighting.  I used the 16-50mm 2.8 lens and the 70-200 2.8 G lens; one on each body.  Both bodies were set to 1600 ISO, medium size Jpeg (12 megs) at the extra fine setting.  I stayed close to the fully open apertures on both lenses and varied the shutter speeds to compensate for changing light levels.  I didn't meter but depended on the electronic viewfinder to assess my exposures.

I learned a few technical things after my first attempt to use these cameras to shoot low light theater photography. I'd left the cameras set to DRO auto which tries to expand the dynamic range of each shot.  That works by boosting shadow tones which increases digital noise.  This time I worked with that setting off.  The files are much less noisy.  I also used the medium Jpeg file size instead of the largest size.  This also reduced apparent noise.  The camera locks on focus like a badger and shoots as fast as I could ever want it to.  Being able to see what the image will look like, vis-a-vis exposure and color has changed the way I shoot theater.  I shot over 1200 files and lost very, very few to exposure errors.  It's a very elegant way to shoot.

The play is wonderful.  The Zachary Scott Theatre cast brought a level of feeling and emotion to this performance that defines, for me, the power of live theater. 


14 comments:

Nick Giron said...

Kirk, I love your opening shot.

The chairs and shadows are very very powerful

kirk tuck said...

Thanks Nick.

Frank Grygier said...

You Rock! I can't believe I just said that.

BruceK said...

The first photo is incredible...

Mike said...

Are badgers really that good at focusing?

kirk tuck said...

Don't know about actually focusing but they are masters at Locking on to something and not letting go...

Mike said...

:)

I've been eyeballing the A77 with the 16-50mm f/2.8. I love everything but the weight.

Joey said...

Honey badgers are, or at least us LSU folks like to think so.. ;)

Rob Grey said...

The photo of the cigarette smoker in the denim jacket is surreal. i'm guessing that's the feeling of the play, such a heavy subject and all. I don't go to the theater as much as I should, but I would go see this in a heartbeat.

FotoEdge said...

I particularly like #22 with the man in the white shirt in the foreground and the people, in the background who look outerworldly, ghostly, mysterious. This is a subtle and beautiful image. Also the tips regarding the jpeg and dynamic range settings are a great help for others that shoot these types of events.

TWeston said...

Hi Kirk,

Always learn something here...thanks!

Could you expand on the idea behind using medium jpeg size? Why does this lower apparent noise?

Also, are you in Manual exposure mode or A priority? I find stage lighting often confuses the auto exposure (and inconsistently so, as well). What's the best way to handle this? (I'm using an E-M5, if that makes any difference)

Thanks again!
Tom

kirk tuck said...

The camera downsamples the image to create the files which seems to reduce the noise. I always shoot theater on manual because the dark backgrounds and hard spot lights are impossible for cameras to measure well on the fly. I"m sure someone out there is so good that they can spot meter someone's cheek, lock in an exposure, recompose, lock focus and shoot with their digital camera. Manual worked in the film days and works even better in the digital days, especially when using an evf that shows you what you are getting as you look through the finder.

Wataru Maruyama said...

I really wish a camera maker let you move the spot metering target so it wasn't always dead center. I've been shooting my Nex-7 at 12MP and I was wondering why it seemed the images were less noisy. Awesome shots. The drama of the play really comes through. Seriously love all the shadows.

TWeston said...

I did an experiment with my E-M5 comparing LF (full size 16mp) and MFS (8mp - biggest available) at 1600, 3200 and 6400. The LF looked better, a bit finer grain, the lower ISO was harder to tell. Maybe the downsampling improvement varies based on sensor? jpeg processing?