Shooting by gas light lantern can be challenging, but it’s just part of the job some times. Our local Shakespearean troupe, The Baron’s Men, performs in a theater lit (mostly) by gas lights. This was one of the first production where they had added a couple of flame colored electric fill lights. Everything was tuned to match the gas lights. This night, they were performing Much Ado About Nothing.
Audience and Ambiance
One of the fun (and difficult) things for me as a photographer was to capture the ambiance of the performance. Plays include the audience. They aren’t like a movie projected out and passively received. Seeing a play like this in a tiny theater is an intimate experience. The audience’s reactions feed back into the actors performances.
The stage is dim enough during this type of performance, but the audience is even darker. Beyond simple capturing something, the goal is always to capture a great moment during the action. Luckily, the Curtain Theater is in-the-round so the audience can be seen behind the actors from either wing. There was just enough light from the gas lanterns to make the audience visible.
In many ways, photographing the actors on stage is much easier. I picked a location and waited for a good moment, then quietly moved elsewhere.
Why black and white? The choice to create black and white images in some situations is simple. Black and white images are cleaner since they use tree times the data to produce a monochrome image. In a low light situation like this, digital noise, even on the most modern professional camera, is significant.
Of course, with digital, the decision is made after the fact. We almost always shoot RAW, capturing all the information the camera can. In this case, the light was very blue-green deficient (i.e. it was all orange). Some photos just felt better in black and white so I went with it.
After the play, the actors gathered for quick character heat shots.
This theater photography for The Baron’s Men is part of AzulOx’s ongoing ProBono work to support the arts around Austin.