Monday, June 16, 2008

Natalie MacMaster

About once a year, I manage to take a photograph I'm really proud of. In this case, it was beginner's luck. We had bought DSLRs (his-'n-hers Nikon D70s's) a few days before the Festival and I decided to bring one along to play with on the weekend, just to get used to the camera.

Two things I immediately appreciated about digital:
  1. The ability to change my "film speed" on-the-fly -- from ISO 200 for high-resolution under full sun, to ISO 1600 for night-time ambient stage light (as in the above).
  2. The freedom to click away with wild abandon, without exhausting a 24 or 36 exposure roll -- or worrying about the cost of film and processing! One thing I noticed a few years ago about the professional photographers is that they burn film. Yes, they know all about exposure and lighting and composition -- but they also take lots of pictures, because some things you just can't control for, especially on non-posed, non-studio shots. So they'll take, like, a dozen -- or a hundred -- shots to get the one that gets published.
The above picture was taken maybe 20 meters from the stage, with the zoom maxed out at 300mm, hand-held. I hadn't yet heard the rule of thumb that you shouldn't shoot slower than the reciprocal of the focal length, and at 1/30 of a sec or so, a lot of the shots came out blurry due to camera shake.

But a few didn't, and the one above is the lucky winner: just caught the magic moment with Natalie backlit by a purple spot, leaning into her fiddle, with a little motion blur on the bow hand so you can almost hear the music happening.

Full disclosure: Image shot in landscape and cropped to tighten up the composition; some reflected highlights (notably: the sheen on the drummer's bald head!) toned down using GIMP.

1 comment:

RBH said...

That's a great photo.

You wrote

One thing I noticed a few years ago about the professional photographers is that they burn film.

Best advice I ever got from a professional photographer was when he said, "They make film by the running mile. Use all of it." :)