I went back to the rehearsals of “More Light”, directed by the talented Laura Vorwerg; this time to shoot a full rehearsal. The blog from the previous session can be read here. Unlike the last session which was practices of various individual scenes, the day broke down into four segments. An initial review of several scenes which needed some practice and then a full run-through of the play, the cast then went off and got into costume and makeup and did a couple of scenes with their costumes to get used to them, and then did a final, full run-through in costume and makeup.
Being able to see the entire play twice was a remarkable help to effective shooting, much as the repetition of scenes was. There were a couple of shots that I missed on the initial viewing because I had the wrong lens on the camera to capture the scene the way it needed. Being able to know what was coming allowed me to address that and get better shots for the full rehearsal when it really counted. This is not to say it was perfect, there were a couple of occasions I preempted the shot and swapped too early, almost missing a different shot in the process.
Unlike the previous session, where I was shooting with both the 70-200mm and the 17-40, I swapped shooting with the zoom lens for my 105mm Macro. Now, I’d not brought the macro to the previous session for the obvious reason; it is completely the wrong lens to use to shoot a gig. It is designed for close up work and it is a fixed prime, and I have limited space to move in so I can’t easily alter the composition to accommodate the lack of a zoom function. However, on consideration after the shoot last week, I thought I’d give it a go. Turns out, despite being totally the wrong lens, it is actually perfect for this type of shoot. It is fast, f2.8 rather than the f4 of most of my other lenses, it’s got IS built in and it is silent. All three of these things make it a particularly good lens for shooting in a rehearsal space. I was able to take the ISO down quite a few stops and have a faster shutter speed than I had been using, so I’ve gotten much sharper images. Whilst it was limited to be using a fixed prime lens, I was generally able to frame effectively due to my distance from the actors, though some shots suffered from not being able to reframe fast enough.
In terms of how the images were done, like last time, I mainly shot in black and white, as it worked well at capturing the feel of a work in progress. When the full dress rehearsal started however, I wanted to capture this in colour, the pageantry of the costumes and makeup would have been lost in black and white. Whilst the lighting was the ambient tungsten bulbs, it wasn’t as dramatic as I’d have hoped, but it still works, as long as the viewer is aware it was a rehearsal.
I am disappointed that I’ve not been able to get any shots of the shadow play. There is a large screen that during the performance will be used to project images of the emperor, turn small terracotta warriors into a mighty army and show the dismemberment of Artists, Astrologers, Metalsmiths, Architects, inventors, indeed, the finest minds of the empire….
See more of the images here in the gallery: More Light Gallery