Saturday, February 24, 2007

Shooting Englebert

I went with my mom to see Englebert Humperdinck at the Kirby Center in Wilkes-Barre last Sunday. It wasn't something I had planned on doing. My sister was supposed to go with her, but the weather intervened, and my mom was stuck looking for someone to go with her. In the end I was chosen for my combination of driving skills, sure-footedness (we had to park several blocks from the theater, and had to clamber over several snowpiles at crosswalks), and willingness to tolerate Englebert Humperdinck. Hell, I had grown up with his music in our house, so it would be kind of fun.

My mom took her digital camera. Like most theaters, the Kirby has a "no flash photography" policy - not that a flash would have made much difference from our seats in the balcony. So the challenge was, how do I manipulate the settings on the camera to get pictures to commemorate the event?

Simply turning off the flash causes the shutter to stay open until the CCD on the camera has absorbed enough photons to satisfy it. This generally results in a richly-colored, blurred, partially overexposed photo. But I wanted to be able to get photos that were recognizably Englebert.
Well, it took a while, but eventually I remembered a combination of settings that I have used to take pictures of my nephews blowing out candles on a birthday cake in a darkened room. I turned off the flash and set the camera to "Sports" mode, where a single shutter press will take a rapid sequence of short-exposure photos. I was concerned that the photos would be too short-exposure and I might get nothing at all. So I had to restrict myself to moments when the stage was brightly lit and a spotlight was shining on Englebert. That was the situation in the photo above: the stage was illuminated a bright red and Englebert was being picked out by a spotlight. As you can see, the resulting photo shows a stage dimly glowing red and Englebert just barely visible. Still, it is possible to zoom in on the figure of Englebert and see detail in his face:
So I would say the photographic technique was a success. Unfortunately, now I have some 60+ photos to sift through to try to determine which to get developed. Or maybe we'll just develop them all!

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