In March of 2019 the University of the Pacific (UOP) asked me to photograph their production of “Brigadoon”. I attended the dress rehearsal, taking a slightly elevated position in the rear next to the lighting and sound console.
I had documented other theater productions at Hutchins Street Square, so this type of assignment was not new to me. Two cameras (in case one failed), a 200mm f/2.8 zoom and a monopod set at eye level while I sat. That was the easy part.
The biggest challenge is common to these types of shoots … I know nothing about the play. That may be an admission of culture privation, but none-the-less a real problem. The answer for me was to set up the camera manually, adjusting the shutter speed and zoom only when necessary (f/3.5, ISO 2500).
Lighting is usually never a problem for this type of event. In fact, it’s an advantage because someone with lots of experience has already figured that part out. When light intensity changes, it’s programmed to change for the affect. However, I did reach for the shutter adjustment wheel a few times (ranging between 1/160 and 1/400).
Back to the challenge. Concentration is key! Follow the action and try to anticipate what’s coming next. You won’t enjoy the show … you’ll be sweating too much.
Finally, use a big memory card and shoot everything that moves. Most good cameras will process at least 6 pictures per second. Faster the better. Those priceless expressions don’t last very long and you can always sort through the 1200 shots later in Lightroom to extract the 50 good ones.