Neon Moon Summer Circus

I passed Anstey Hall when out biking with a friend last summer. We got curious what it was, but didn’t explore it further than the foyer. Yesterday I was back, and had the strangest déjà vu feeling as I was biking along the road leading up to the big house. It can’t be, ah… but it is! This time round I was there to photograph the Neon Moon Summer Circus. The director Ruby Truelove is the sister of an old work colleague of mine from my Amsterdam time.

I decided to travel light and just brought my 35mm f/1.4 with me. This meant that when it got dark I would have to find existing light sources to get my shots. We were three photographers that mingled about. The guests were not supposed to photograph but many did anyway. Who can resist when there are so many colourful costumes and people doing circusy stuff? I arrived quite early and spent some time photographing the aerial acrobats Joanne Jordan and Daisy Black as they were practising. The first part of the evening also included two wrestlers: a Russian bad guy who got the crowd booing by saying “Hello Oxford!”, and a good guy wrestler with a dog mask on his head who just barked.

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Daisy (top) and Joanne (bottom) were rehearsing before the evening. The sun was starting to set which gave a nice light. Here I have pulled the white balance a bit towards the blue to enhance the sky. Most of the photos I made showed them very concentrated in poses that must have been difficult to hold for long. What I like here is that they are relaxed, interacting with each other.
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I wanted to get rid of parts of the rig that were visible in the shot but then I got a bit carried away with the content aware brush and the clone stamp and ended up removing the rope as well. I liked how it turned out, so started photoshopping out the rope in more photos.
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A shot of Joanne Jordan from her silk performance. I decided to do it black and white as I was having problems with how the light from the spotlights and the white balance made the skin orange and the sky deep blue.
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A behind-the-scenes shot. Samantha Adamson was one of the other two photographers. She had a really good eye and was moving around a lot. Several times I was thinking that something would look good from a specific angle, and when I looked there a moment later she was in that spot.

The second part of the show was indoors. Among other things it included mind reading, sword swallowing and singing. Not necessarily in that order.

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Photo taken shortly after Bendini stepped off the stage. He had one of the audience members place clothes pegs on his face, there were one or two that he had to take off his tongue before he could speak again.
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For the indoors performances I was restricted in my movements, so parked myself on the side of the stage to be able to capture the audience’s reactions in the background. Here Dolly Rose was performing her first act.
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I wanted a candid shot, but they spotted me, so I asked them to talk about something random. They really got into character. I forgot what they talked about, but by their looks I think the guy on the left just made a suggestion which was met with mixed reactions.
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Marilyn Monroe reincarnated?
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Can you spot the two photographers in the photo?
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Here you should be able to see the photographers. Have a look at the rest of the audience also, there are some funny reactions to the muscle flexing competition that was going on on the stage.
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Alex the Mindreader captivated the audience. You can click the image to see it larger. I was trying to exploit the fact that part of the audience is lit up by the spotlight.
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Before performing the sword swallowing Bendini wanted to prove that the sword was real. So he asked an audience member to come up on stage and hold a cucumber which he proceeded to chop off, bit by bit. Look at the audience’s reactions. One of the women looks surprised and a man looks to be in pain. Shooting through the mirror mixes things up and gives the picture a frame. This shot was accidentally timed with the flash of one of the other photographers. It was a bit lucky since I don’t think the cucumber splattering would have shown up as well without the extra light. I did a bit of sharpening on it to make it more visible.
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Joe Black finishing off the show with a song.

If you want to see more photos from the Neon Moon show then head over to their webpage and check out the Flickr stream. That’s it for this time, hope you enjoyed the photos!

Tip: Check out the Mermaid underwater photos from my previous post.

/Johannes

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