Kids in the Hall

I am almost recovered from shooting thirty-two kids in an unlit theater camp production of “A Disney Spectacular” last week. The kids were great, but what was really spectacular was the lack of light.

The show was supposed to start at 7:30 pm in a large, high ceilinged room with about five or six small flood lights thirty or so feet off the floor. The only other light came through a row of windows along each wall. During the performance (not on a stage) the children faces were parallel to the windows. After speeches by all the adult principals of the camp, the show finally started about 7:45 pm.

This is how dark it was. Even with my 50mm f/1.8 wide open on my D50 I was shooting at ISO 800 at 1/125.  I had the Nikon kit lens, 18-55mm, on my other camera (D40) at ISO 1600 but it proved near useless (until after the show when I could use flash). The lack of light also made autofocus slow. Several times I’d have a good shot lined up only to have the camera fail to focus.

Thank god for Capturenx, Photoshop and Noiseware. Of course using Noiseware came with a price. Most of the shots taken sans flash came out very soft, like those old gauzy photos of aging actresses.

But I shouldn’t complain! I will clear about $130 when its all said and done. That’s about $8 an hour. It takes a while to process a couple of hundred photos and make a CD of the best shots for the doting parents (the show itself was sixteen minutes long…)

For the first time I found myself realizing the limitations of my two cameras. I kept thinking of how easy it would have been in that gloomy room with a D300. Between its great low light performance and the higher frame rate, it would have made such a huge difference (nowhere near so long in processing!)

So why do I do this? The truth is I enjoy it all. The shooting and the processing. I think its the control. I pick what to shoot and I modify that image as I choose. Getting paid, even the relatively modest amounts I earn, is just icing on the cake.

All 60 of the theater camp photos are here. This is one of my favorites:


Read all of VISIONS

One Response to “Kids in the Hall”

  1. Sounds about as difficult as shooting a live band. The D300 is an excellent choice, it’s probably the lowest level pro-camera before you hit the D3… and the price is right too!

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