Sunday, June 23, 2013

Trumansburg Community Chorus

Last weekend was the Trumansburg Community Chorus Spring Concert. I had been asked to create a few images of the performers for their website and other promotional materials. This was a very fun task for so many reasons. For one, I knew quite a few of the performers, so there was a lovely personal connection. Trumansburg is a small town, no question... and doing things in a small town really brings home the reasons for choosing to live in a small town. The choir director was my daughter's middle school music teacher. Stuff like that. In short, this shoot offered community connection, many technical challenges and best of all, surprises!

My biggest concern initially was lighting the large church chapel. Tall ceilings, narrow windows, and being between other tall buildings does not make for good indoor lighting. I had hoped I would be able to shoot this scene with just my speedlights and pocketwizards... keeping me footloose and able to avoid the hassle of lengthy setup. The first handful of images with just the speedlights was sorely disappointing. Even with my ISO cranked up I was barely pulling in enough light to work with; certainly not usable.    

In order to throw soft light a good distance, and to avoid unflattering shadows, I decided to bounce my big studio strobes into umbrellas, fired from the middle of the church, on opposite sides of the far aisles. They were triggered with wireless triggers (pocketwizards). 

By being able to shoot during the rehearsal two days before the concert, Aurora and I were able to figure out exact lighting placement, and figure out what settings we might need to adjust to get things just right in-camera. My goal was to be able to set up while the musicians arrived, grab a few frames (having already tested angles, shooting position, and lighting), and then break down and clean up before guests arrived for the concert.

My plan: arrive early... allot 15 min for setup, shoot for ten minutes, then break it all down. I figured we could do it in less than 45 minutes. All that planning paid off. We had more than an hour to work with (since the musicians didn't all arrive on-time) and it was infinitely more relaxed than we anticipated. Everything went off without a hitch. The one thing I wish we had been able to stage: I would have loved a few images with the choral director and the pianist facing the camera/crowd. That would have been fantastic. Next time!

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