When I got an e-mail from my “twin” sistah Joyce that our high school would be presenting its excellent one-act play, “Fire in the Hole,” for everyone’s viewing pleasure, I knew I needed to attend. Especially when she said that cameras were welcome.
Normally, the play is performed during competition when no cameras or camcorders are allowed. This was a great chance to see these talented actors and actresses in action. And to do battle with the challenge of uneven lighting that our school’s auditorium loves to feature.
I had just moaned and groaned about those sometimes-blinding bulbs last week when my #1 son walked across that stage to receive a math award. And I went on and on about them in this post when many of these same kids acted in our fall school play.
As you can see from the first photo, I had to compensate for uneven lighting. Justin, on the right, is overexposed, while Grace, David (lying on the table), and Daniel (Joyce’s son) are well lit.
Overall, the stage wasn’t very dark. I had the ISO on my Nikon D700 set at 1000–1600 (of course, I used my beloved low-light champ, the Nikon 85mm f/1.4 lens). My exposure-compensation to tone down the keylights mostly was at –.7.
When I reviewed photos on my LCD during the play and saw that some parts of the stage were too overexposed (too light), I pulled out one key photographic strategy: Avoidance! The problem area mainly was in the middle of the stage; that’s why I have few photos of the action there. I figured I would get decent pics on the left and right sides, and that’s what happened.
“Fire in the Hole,” set around a Kentucky coal mine, is one of nine one-act plays from Robert Schenkkan Jr.’s “The Kentucky Cycle.” A union organizer (Justin) encourages Mary Anne Rowen’s family (Grace, Daniel, and David) and fellow miners into striking against the Blue Star Mining Company.
The school play became especially poignant with the recent West Virginia coal mining disaster when 29 miners were killed.
Coal mining is a way of life in West Virginia, just like it was in the play. I couldn’t help but think about those miners (dead and alive) and their families, as I watched our students’ amazing performance (they almost made it to the state competition).
Battling those brilliant bulbs seemed so insignificant.