Color Photography in a Theater

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Hi All, so the problem is how do you take photographs of actors in costume on stage to make a record of a theater costume designer's work. There is limited amount of time to take photographs as I understand actors are loath to stand still for this kind of thing. The costume designer is naturally interested in getting the most high fidelity color and least grain. And she wants the costume on stage in the scenery. And although it seems it would be easy to get cooperation with lighting people, that doesn't always work. Does any one have any similar experience. What kind of color film would work here? I assume transperancy? What kind of flash or not flash? or would you need to set up your own lights to get a key light and fill? Thanks for any ideas. David

-- david clark (doclark@yorku.ca), May 11, 2001

Answers

I did similar work for several theaters here in Germany. I was "forced" to take the shots during dress rehearsals which meant no possibility of posed shots what so ever. At on top of that, the opprotunity to use a flash was limited as well. I used Ektar 1000 color neg film with a Nikon F3 and a 300mm 2.8 lens. Today, I would probably op for the Fuji 800 Press film (also color neg) which can be pushed to 1600 with acceptable grain. When using flash, I then used a Nikon SB26, now I would use the SB28. Don't worry about direct flash, the stages are so deep that the chances of throwing a shadow are slim. If the shots are "staged", then you might want to go with a fill-flash and a shutter speed of around a 1/15 sec to include some of the ambient light, and therefor some of the theatrical atmosphere.

Bill

-- William Levitt (Light-Zone@web.de), May 12, 2001.


No flash! No tranceparency film! Fujicolor 800 Color negative film also available as 120. It gives you great color in the normal stage lighting. Then you either have it printed on paper or scanned with a film scanner.No sheets available though!

-- Gudmundur Ingˇlfsson (imynd@simnet.is), May 12, 2001.

Forget large format. Maybe medium format with Fuji NHGII if you want prints but that is a daylight balance film to start with and you'll either have a filter to deal with or printing/scanning difficulties to get to what the designer wants. The standard film I use is Kodak 35mm 160T or 320T (sometimes pushed a stop to stop action). I'm looking at a 16x20 type R print I shot during a production "Il Pagliaci". it is a little grainy butthe color is accurate and the sense of depth is right. I think I used a 50mm f/1.4 Nikkor or an 85mm f/1.8 AF Nikkor at about f/4 or f/2.8 as I recall.

-- Ellis Vener Photography (evphoto@swbell.net), May 12, 2001.

Forget large format. Maybe medium format with Fuji NHGII if you want prints but that is a daylight balance film to start with and you'll either have a filter to deal with or printing/scanning difficulties to get to what the designer wants. The standard film I use is Kodak 35mm 160T or 320T (sometimes pushed a stop to stop action). I'm looking at a 16x20 type R print I shot during a production "Il Pagliaci". it is a little grainy butthe color is accurate and the sense of depth is right. I think I used a 50mm f/1.4 Nikkor or an 85mm f/1.8 AF Nikkor at about f/4 or f/2.8 as I recall.

Oh and absolutely no flash. talk to the lighting designer about bringing up the front lights some to fill in the shadows but be very wary about destroying the mood ofthe scene.

-- Ellis Vener Photography (evphoto@swbell.net), May 12, 2001.


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