Friday, June 24, 2022

Green Fool photo back story

This post is mostly a follow up from a post a couple weeks ago, with some more details about the recent Green Fools shoots. 

Most people know of writer's block, where the poor writer can't get the words to come out. Blogger's block is sort of similar, in that most blogs have writing in them. There's been lots of words swirling through my head lately, and there's lots (and lots and LOTS!) of photos to choose from, but it seems that being retired and having more time (theoretically) to write means there's less time to spend on the blog.

Plus, it's been a busy several weeks. Part of the holdup is wondering what to put in which blog, and who my audience actually is, and what's public and what's private, and how long it takes to look through about 14,000 images and think about each one long enough to decide to delete or not and then if it merits a second look and if so how much editing to do.

So let me back up here a bit. Regular readers will know that I have done some photography for Green Fools Theatre Society over the last several years. There's a story about how I met them that deserves it's own blog, but I'm waiting for the other half of the story to tell her side of it. One of the photography rules is that to get more interesting photos you have to find more interesting subjects. And the people involved with Green Fools are that, in spades!

After struggling through COVID, they've come out the other side and are resuming their work. One element of that is teaching theatre and circus related skills. Their two most recent workshops were 3 full days of Theatre Intensive that featured mime, clown, and Bouffon, then the next weekend was a puppet intensive that covered more aspects of this than I knew existed. And yes, all this is fascinating, and almost all of it makes for good photos. The problem was not finding some photos worthy of being shown to Green Fools, it's picking between them.

Most people are astonished at the number of photos taken during this sort of thing, and have never really thought about what happens after the photo session. Taking the photos is the easy and fast part. Click, click, click. Or hold the button down and clickcklickclickclick. So let's just walk through this, shall we?

The selection process actually starts during the initial negotiations with the client. It's important to understand what the client wants or doesn't want. In some cases there will actually be a shot list that defines the desired photos, and it becomes a matter of methodically creating each one. The stilts shoot was like that. The camera was on a tripod aimed at a seamless paper roll, tethered to the laptop, with Dean directing the stilt performers through each shot. 

Once we got dialled in for camera and studio lighting settings, I actually didn't take that many photos, and typically the one to choose was the last one. Even with two pairs of performers, it took longer for them to change than it did for each set of shots. We probably could have had 3 sets of performers. My major learning out of all this was that next time I'm going to wrap some black gaffers tape around the bottom of the stilts. That will make editing much easier.

I'd mentioned that during events my philosophy is to shoot lots. If I get some time during the event, I'll look at the back of the camera and delete the obvious out of focus shots. Once home there's the import process, which mostly means leaving the computer alone to do it's thing. (After checking to make sure there's enough space on the relevant drive! Running out of space part way through is really bad.) Copying and doing preview calculations for thousands of photos takes a while. 

Then its scroll through and look at them all. This is usually pretty interesting, because when shooting I'm normally looking through the viewfinder to keep the selected focus point on someone's face. What's in the rest of the image is often a surprise. Or I'll do zone shooting with the 14mm lens, where I know everything from about a foot from the camera out to several dozen feet will be in focus. 

We had agreed to divide up the photos by event, rather than just a list by day. In addition to the agreed list, I included behind the scenes and bonus shots because these are often the most interesting to me and the participants. I've found I can usually get really nice portrait shots of people while they are involved in something else.

While going through these I'm looking for obvious winners and pretty good photos, and ones I can delete because they are out of focus enough that I'd never show them to anyone. Sometimes trying to decide which group a photo will go in can be difficult. I'll make a preliminary edit pass with the computer doing most of the work and then assess what I've got.

From here it's more individual work, cropping photos, tweaking the editing. For the dark shots, one of the secrets is not to apply the lens profile corrections. During this stage I'm often comparing several very similar shots, or a sequence. Like this sequence, for example. The middle 10 shots took place over about 2 seconds. Which to pick?

This is Lauren doing a clown routine where something is supposed to go wrong, then recover from it. Note her purse disappears. Picking one shot out of this was fairly quick. I used to agonize over picking between several similar shots, but I came to realize that if I couldn't quickly tell the difference between shots looking at the full size image, then nobody will see the difference at social media size. Pick one and move on.

Review the final selection of shots and make sure there's no really similar shots, or too many of one person or not enough of another. It's really easy to pick the most photogenic or active of the bunch and shoot lots of them. Make sure there's no obvious lighting differences, except for where there is.

So here's some selections from the shoots. Even though these are not watermarked, they are still copyright to Keith Cartmell Photography, and are courtesy of Green Fools.

A moment of celebration during the clown wedding, before things go sideways.

The clown funeral, when they dropped the casket.

Bouffon. A dramatic poetry reading.

Everybody survived the crossing of The Abyss, then they all died during the Great Chicken War.

On the rocket to the moon.

Behind the scenes, training for a puppet routine on television.

Taking their bow afterward.

So much fun! Can't wait till they call me for the next shoot! In the mean time, they have both kid and adult classes you can sign up for.

Of the Day


Landscape, sort of this. This is the two route finders on the Leseuer Ridge walk. Yes, we got snowed on several times.

At one point during the walk we were on top of that ridge.

Film (35mm, Ektar 100)

1 comment:

  1. I'd be interest to know which of the shots of Lauren you chose. To my eye, 1107 seems the obvious choice but I couldn't examine them closely of course.


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