There's something therapeutic about photographing live theater.

I love photographing dress rehearsals.
They are over in about 2 to 2 and a half hours so you have to be finished.
You get to listen to live music as you work.
People don't want to sit next to you because of the camera noise (++)
The actors and the costumers and stage crafters make you look better than you are.
Intermission is a great time to go out onto the balcony and snap a shot of the LED sign.
Sometimes, when there's a VIP reception, you get to have the good red wine.
You get to feel like an artist who works with other artists.

If you shoot with more than one camera on a regular basis and a lot of what you shoot is fun, personal work, you often get ready to do a paying  job with one of those cameras and realize that you have lots of little, fun stuff already resident on the memory card inside. A case in point: I shot a dress rehearsal of White Christmas at Zachary Scott Theatre last week and the cameras below are the ones I used to document the show. The one on the chair is a Sony a99 with the spiffy 70-200mm G lens an the one in the bag is an a77 with the really nice 16-50mm f2.8 lens. 

Also featured in the image is one of the first really nice holiday presents that Belinda bought me when we were first dating; an authentic, original Leitz monopod. I got it as a gift in 1980. Although it is now thirty two years old it works as well as it did the day I got it and the patina of age makes it seem almost as cool as I really think it is. I have a Saunders quick release plate on it in this photo but it usually has its matching Leitz ball head on top. ( I put release plates on the big lens and on the a77 body and I use them when the light gets dim but most of the time I just depend on my technique and the quite good image stabilization in both cameras.

But of course, if these are my two shooting cameras I must have used something else to take the image. It was the Nex 6, which I have fallen for hook, line and sinker.  The camera is tiny and, when coupled with either the Sigma 19 or 40mm lens, it little bigger than a regular point and shoot camera. But I am finding the files to be tremendous and the feel in my hands to be as good and comfy as its big brother, the Nex 7.

I was out shooting portraits today and pulled this camera from the little backpack to use (in a professional, paid job) and the images in this blog were already waiting for me on the card.

Since I've been taking the 6 with me everywhere, wearing it around my neck like a necktie, I've been documenting all kinds of stuff that seems fun to me. I walked out of a Starbucks the other day at sunset and looked up at the sky to see the image below. All I had to do was reach down, grab the camera, bring it to my eye and shoot. Then I got in the car and drove off. Freedom. Light weight. Everything in one bag. It's one way to go....


alan in england said...

How do you manage to avoid camera shake under 1/100 second without body stabilisation. Particularly in theatre .

Kirk Tuck said...

I'm sorry Alan, I don't understand your question. Both the a99 and the a77 have state of the art, in body image stabilization. And it works even when using a monopod. But with the high ISO/low noise capable a99 there are very few instances where the shutter speed drops under 1/160th or 1/250th of second anymore.

If you meant how do I manage to avoid shake with the Nex camera it's important to note that there's no mirror vibration (which makes more and more of a difference as you go lower) and good hand holding technique coupled with wide angle lenses covers many faults...

If I limit myself to one cup of coffee during the day, hold the cameras carefully, and shoot with good technique I can sometimes handhold the mirrorless cameras at least a full stop (and sometimes more) slower than a typical camera with a flippy-flappy mirror.


Steve said...

I own both a Nikon d7000 and a NEX 7 and find that, without without using image stabilization on either , I'm much better able to shoot hand held at slow speeds with the NEX. I always attributed it to the Nex's smaller size and weight which makes it easier to hold tight to my face.