I am watching the Eurovision Song Contest on SVT play. The winner has already been announced, but I was busy photoshopping when the programme first broadcast so it is replay time for me. The songs are better than I remember from previous years, and the choreography, lighting and effects on stage are very impressive. Earlier today (Saturday) my camera and I spent three hours with the Cambridge University Chamber Orchestra in the West Road Concert Hall. They were rehearsing for tonight’s concert, and the entire orchestra had dressed up in stage clothes for the photography session. They also turned on the stage lights for part of the rehearsal to make it look more like a real concert. I really like to photograph the rehearsals. It is more interactive than a normal concert, and not only do I get to hear great music, I also have the opportunity to photograph.
Originally I was only planning on bringing my 50 and 85 mm lenses with me, but I turned back and picked up my 20 mm lens also, and I am glad that I did. That lens gave me the opportunity to take some nice wide angle shots of the entire orchestra. My other prime lenses are really good, but the 20 mm lens has got a lot of distortion and is less sharp, which is why I don’t always bring it with me. If I should have the option to buy it again I would probably opt for a slightly less wide angle lens with better optics. Anyway, you work with what you have and the lens can do a great job if you use it right, just keep people away from the periphery.
When I arrived people were still gathering, I met up and talked with Karys Orman, who was coordinating things, about the plan for the afternoon. They wanted photos for next year’s programme, they also wanted photos of the evening’s guest stars Jamie Phillips and Melanie Ragge, as well as some portraits of the new student president and vice-president of their society. The rehearsal had not yet started, so I took the opportunity to walk around a bit among the orchestra taking a few shots. After they began playing I mostly circled the orchestra, which meant that the people in the centre of the orchestra did not get photographed as much as those on the periphery. Melanie was only there for the first part of the rehearsal, so the focus was on getting a few good shots of her.
Part of the way through the rehearsal I took a break and walked away with Ben Glassberg and Giverny McAndry to do the portrait photos. We had access to a big room with big windows placed high up on the walls, which meant that I did not need to use the flash that I had brought along. Here we tried to position them so that the light would come in from the side to add a bit of depth to their faces. They were really fun to work with, when I was taking photos of Ben then I could see Giverny doing a silly dance behind me in the reflection of the camera screen. She was trying to make him laugh, and doing a pretty good job.
There was a fun episode when Jamie (the conductor) walked away from the orchestra to listen from afar. This left the conductor podium empty “they don’t need me, they can play all by themselves”, so I took the opportunity to jump up there and snap a few shots from his view of the world. When Jamie came back he offered me his conductor wand, and I could probably have got away with trying to weave a few musical spells, but I figured it was better to let the professionals do the job.
I ended up taking about 600 photos, which is a lot to go through afterwards. Need to be a bit more selective with what I shoot, at the same time I do prefer to snap a few more shots to make sure I capture the decisive moment. Also my workflow could probably be optimised. It was great that they had all dressed up for the rehearsal so that we could get good photos, I felt honoured that they wanted to do that.