Shooting a circus, is like shooting fish in a barrel. Bright colors, clowns, feats of daring….and a brand new big top for the Summerfield Waldorf school. Press Democrat photographer Beth Schlanker photographed practice for our Towns section a few days before the first performance. Her photos are beautiful, the ceiling filled with a lovely blue filled with stars. Her angles and compositions really show off her photographic style. CLICK HERE for a link to her gallery (I love the last photo). I was excited for my turn.
My shoot during a performance was like night and day. It truly was like shooting at night when the tent flaps were sealed, the lights mounted from each side pointing down. If I exposed to show the ceiling, the performers would be 2 or 3 stops overexposed, so when I exposed for the performers, the tent and surroundings go to black. The tent also heats up very quickly when the heavy material is sealed. When the performers practice the sides are opened to allow as much light and air in as possible. The day of the night and day.
The light was challenging in a fun way. It would have been a cross your fingers shoot in the days of film. I spent more time looking at the images and figuring out adjustments to the different light changes than I actually shooting. The front light was very boring–see the example below–so I stayed behind the action, waiting for turns and profiles. My angles were limited during the performance. No moving under the performers as Beth did at practice. We picked the lead photo above, and crossed our fingers the reproduction would hold in newsprint. CLICK HERE for a link to my complete gallery. My favorites are posted below.
For my other spark of light, see the last pic below. I was walking with the Sutter Hospital project manager through their construction site last week, when I pointed out how little work was happening when we finally are out to shoot for the paper. I explained if he was good at his job their would be a welder working on the wavy steel beams over the Emergency Room. I didn’t hear a crack of lightning or see a puff of smoke as welder Bill Gollob appeared out of nowhere on a lift, welder in hand, and even wearing red. I went and bought a lottery ticket later.