Saturnalia

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Natasha on top of her human pyramid. I have desaturated the green colours and played around with the white balance. There is also a little bit of split toning going on. I decided in post processing to blur the background to emphasise the actors. There is also a little bit of dodging and burning (selectively lightening and darkening parts of the image). Normally I just do that around the edges of the photo, but here there is also some on the actors.

Yesterday I was photographing a tied up girl in a gas mask. Perhaps not the most normal subject, but I can explain. I got a message on Friday afternoon from Alex O’Bryan-Tear who is setting up a show in Peterhouse Scholars’ Garden and he and his friends were in the process of putting together a poster. They wanted a drinking society photo, with a dark twist. 24 hours later I was standing in that garden shooting crazy theatre people.

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There was a bit of a discussion about the finer details of sorority squatting. Everyone had an opinion.

The weather forecast said rain, so the production crew had started to prepare the Peterhouse MCR. However, after a bit of persuasion I managed to convince them that it was better to be outdoors. The cloudy sky would provide a good soft light, and a little rain would not hurt, it might even add some atmosphere to the photo. Not sure the actors would have agreed with that assessment.

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An alternative version of the “society photo”, this one with a bit more emphasis on the girl in the gasmask. You can click on the images to see larger versions. Wendy Min Ji Choi, Laura Gi Yashanowski, Ilana Walder-Biesanz, Rob Foxall-Smith, Theo McCausland and Heloise Ungless.

We walked around in the gardens looking for good backdrops. The fellows’ garden would have provided the perfect backdrop so we took some test shots there, but it seemed that that was not allowed.  We went back to the big deer-less deer garden and experimented with a few other spots. In the end we found one by the wall, with a big tree behind that blocked out the bright sky from the frame. We borrowed a bench from another part of the garden, and got the newly arrived actors to get in costumes, and character, on their temporary set.

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Duckface time. There is an entire series of funny photos with them posing in all sort of ways, except the girl on the ground who didn’t even move. I don’t know how much she saw or heard. Maybe she just liked to stay in character. There were a couple of quite enthusiastic comments about “ordinary bondage” and again several strong opinions on the subject.

We experimented with different setups, and also took some funny photos to mix things up. In the end my favourite shot was one where Natasha Cutler was lifted up by the two guys (at the top of this post), which created a more dynamic composition. There was a lot of experimentation before we got it right. In retrospect we should probably have had the girl with the gasmask closer to the camera also to emphasise her more.

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Natasha Cutler and Wendy Min Ji Choi were looking cuddly together. I wanted to do something with their faces being in different directions so cropped it closely then blackened the surrounding. This however looked a bit odd, so I added a texture on top to give the photo more structure.

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The show is called Saturnalia and will run in the Peterhouse Scholars’ Garden in May week, which I believe takes place in June. Just checked, it is scheduled for 14-16 June (17:00). I am not really sure what they will be up to, but some form of interactive theatre. If what I saw yesterday is any indication of what the show will be, then expect something crazy from this creative bunch!

– Johannes

Reviews: Varsity (3/5)

The final poster:

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