Peter Rabbit Headshots at Red Branch Theatre Company

I like opportunities to stretch my skills and make some creative decisions in studio sessions. This doesn’t always happen when I am taking cast headshots for theatrical productions. They are often fit into a very small window of time before a rehearsal and at times the casts are quite large. Like 28 people large. In a window of about 90 minutes. That’s OK, it’s the job and I’ve gotten more adept at it over the years.

For RBTC’s “Peter Rabbit” they asked for character shots. So, I knew this could be a little different than the usual white background setup. I arrived early enough to talk to the costumer prior to setup. I found out the color scheme leaned toward earth tones and oranges. So, I quickly ditched the white or grey backdrops and went with a very pale brown.

Peter Rabbit Headshot SetupThis didn’t seem interesting enough, so I gelled a flash rust color to punch that up. (Turned out, after white balancing, it ended up pretty close to the wall color. Ha!)

I went with a shoot-through umbrella for a soft and forgiving key light, since I didn’t really know what the costumes would be like and a 1/4 CTO gel to keep the subject from ending up too pasty.

A reflector to balance out the shadows and I was ready to go after setting a custom white balance. I also took a selfie with the X-Rite Colorchecker Passport to double down on the color correction just in case the walls caused a weird cast.BFPPHOTO-_BFP4356

 

Here’s a preview of images straight out of the camera (with only a little tonal correction).

Cory Jones

Katie Ganem

Stephanie Williams

Jennie Phelps

Gavin Shown

 

Tierra Strickland

I think the choices worked out well for these images and I’m really looking forward to shooting production stills next week and getting a preview of this world premiere show.

Peter Rabbit at Red Branch Theatre Company | December 11-19, 2015

Music and Lyrics by Dustin Merrell | Based on the classic tale by Beatrix Potter

What happens when an impish bunny disobeys his mother’s command to hop through a big, scary vegetable garden? Find out as the rabbit we all know from our childhood collides head on with a rag tag group of new friends that set off on unforgettable adventures. This exciting new musical adaptation by local composer and Red Branch Company Member Dustin Merrell marks Red Branch’s first ever world premiere.

Tickets Available Here

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Argonautika – Howard Community College

One of the privileges of my job, such as it is, is to get to see lots of theatre. I have had a love of theatre since I was in elementary school and my mom would take us to shows at Storrowton Theater (a Summer theatre in-the-round under a tent in Springfield, Ma. during the 60s and 70s).

Last night I shot production stills for Argonautika at Howard Community College. This is a student production of Mary Zimmerman’s play depicting the voyages of Jason and The Argonauts (of Greek Mythology fame).

This play is a wonderful adaptation of the story with great comedic elements highlighted with, oh, a bit of anachronism.

A few costumes that one my consider. Ah, silly.

What else does this play have?

Are you kidding?

Fencing, fighting,

torture, revenge,

giants, monsters,

chases, escapes, true love, miracles…

and Goddesses!

The comparison to the Princess Bride is apt (did you get that reference?), this show has it all and it is lovely.

The set works very well and the cast clearly has a great time in the production.

“Argonautika” by Mary Zimmerman

Directed by Jenny Male

November 12 – 21 \ Studio Theatre
The HCC Theatre Program is proud to present Argonautika, written by Tony Award winner Mary Zimmerman. In this powerful story, the goddesses Hera and Athena weave together an epic tale about the adventures of Jason and the Argonauts and the fateful and haunting romance between Medea and Jason. Come see the dazzling sword fights and spectacles on this journey and share in the joys and heartbreaks of these well-loved mythological characters.

Buy Tickets Online

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Pendulum – Kinetics Dance Theatre 


Saturday evening, November 7th, 2015, Kinetics Dance Theatre’s professional company had their Fall show at Slayton House in Columbia, Maryland. KDT’s choreography is always inventive and expressive creating many interesting photographic opportunities.

I really love shooting these dance performances. They are some of my most challenging assignments. Why? Really? Fast movement…


Low light…


Changing conditions…


no second chances…


And no idea where to shoot or what is coming next.

All while trying not to ruin the experience for the paying audience. The best of times, the worst of times. I honestly don’t know if I have anything until I  get home. That makes the solid shots so much more gratifying.



  
Every one of these shots feels like a huge win. Oh, I actually got a few more than these too and I haven’t been through the whole set yet.

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One Light, One Modifier

I have the same problem most photographers do, Equipment Acquisition Disorder. It’s ugly, painful and the treatment is very expensive. Yet, every once in a while I’m in remission and I’m able to almost be a normal human being. The kind of person who recognizes how much I already have and what I can do with it. So, in between boughts, I managed to have a couple of successful studio sessions with a single light (Einstein e640) and a single modifier (a Buff 30″x60″ modifier). Not only was I able to have some very different lighting on my model’s face, but it didn’t stop me from getting the looks I wanted.

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So, I lied a little. There’s an SB-800 with two blue gels throwing a splash on the backdrop. I don’t really count that, but it appears in the next couple of shots. In this shot I was pushing toward short lighting, but I brought the source in nice and close. I used a piece of foamcore (held by an assistant) to make sure her pretty curls weren’t lost on the shadow side.

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This shot has the same setup, but with the model turned to take a broad light shot. I’ve been enamoured lately with B&W conversions of my portraits and I think there is enough contrast for it to work here. The light was pulled back just a bit to get a little more definition in the shadows.

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Same lighting, with the light pulled back (you have to, since it is such a large source) and my position raised up above the model’s chin level. I really wanted the focus pulled right into her eyes.

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One light, no fill, no background light. I was going for an old-hollywood feel with this. In Perfect Photo Suite 7, I added blur in Perfect Focus and used Perfect B&W for the conversion.

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Again, going for the glamour. However, this time, it isn’t a soft and I kept most of the color (although the tones aren’t quite as vibrant, except in the lipstick, to add to the period feel).

So, it’s likely I’ll be back in the depths of my illness and dropping coin on something I desperately “need” sometime soon. However, the next time I’m in remission or shamed by my wife, I’ll try to remember how much you can do with just one light, some patience, and that creativity thing.

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When is it no longer a photograph?

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While working on this image, my wife commented that it wasn’t a photograph anymore since it no longer looked just like it came out of the camera. Well, I don’t know about that, but it does fulfill my vision of what this shot was supposed to be.Yes, I added the clouds to enhance the rather lackluster sky and brought out the colors in my mind. Those of a later day shooting opportunity I didn’t have.The bracketed shots were merged using the ‘Merge to 32-bit HDR’ plugin from HDRSoft for lightroom. Tonemapping was started in Lightroom and completed in OnOne Software Perfect Effects . There was a little bit of masking in photoshop to replace the sky.

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