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Drama: backstage at The Furies – part 1

Monday, October 20th, 2014

This is the first set of pictures from my time backstage at The Oxford Playhouse while the cast of The Furies were getting ready. There isn’t a lot of space in the dressing rooms so I did my best to keep out of the way while still making pictures – notice my reflection in two of the shots. Before arriving I didn’t know what the light levels were going to be like inside but I wanted to test out some Eastman Kodak Double-X motion picture film (the same type that was used by Spielberg for Schindler’s List) so I took a gamble and rated this roll at ISO 400 which is a 1 stop push from box speed. Overall I’m very pleased with the results considering how much contrast there is in these shots – bright lights and black clothing is a torture test for any film. A quick shout out to Charles Graham, the director, for allowing me access and a big thank you to the cast for being so accommodating which always helps to make my job a little easier.

[Tech info:] Yashica Electro 35, Eastman Kodak Double-X film rated at ISO 400, processed in Kodak HC110 1+31 for 6:30.

Drama: Twelfth Night cast portraits

Thursday, August 28th, 2014

Portraits of some of the cast from the Oxford University Dramatic Society production of Twelfth Night which played in the Old Schools Quadrangle, Bodleian Library. These were made five minutes before the audience were allowed in and I’m very grateful to the cast for giving up some of their warm up time. These costumes came from the Royal Shakespeare Company and were amazing when you were up close.

[Tech info:] Bronica ETRSi, 75/2.8, Fuji Pro 400H film, developed and scanned by Ag Photo lab.

Drama: The Alchemist @ Freuds, Oxford

Wednesday, July 23rd, 2014

Some shots here from a production of The Alchemist which was playing at Freuds last week on Walton Street. I managed to make these shots shortly before the doors opened and I must say I really liked the set that they had created in a relatively small amount of space. It was nicely lit too and fortunately for me I had some Cinestill motion picture film in my camera from when I photographed Giffords Circus and as it’s tungsten balanced it was perfect for these shots. The film has expired so these were a bit of an experiment but I do like how they turned out.

[Tech info:] Nikon FM2, 50/1.4D, Cinestill film (expired), home processed in a C41 kit that I opened in July 2013!


Oxford: Mikado rehearsal

Thursday, May 8th, 2014

Here are some shots from a rehearsal for The Mikado that I attended a few months ago at New College thanks to the show’s director, Tim Coleman. I had hoped to photograph at the dress rehearsal as well but unfortunately the timings didn’t quite work out. I used this occasion to test out some film that I’ve been struggling with to find a look that I like. The film is Ilford Delta 3200 which is designed for low light photography but finding a developer that produces results that I am very happy with has proven tricky (not least because the film expired 7 years ago and has lost some of its sensitivity) but I think I’ve finally cracked it with a developer named Rodinal. Ironically Rodinal is renowned for increasing grain which is usually the last thing you want with fast film but I like these results and will continue to test with this combination.

[Tech info:] Bronica ETRSi, 75/2.8, loaded with Ilford Delta 3200 rated at ISO 800, processed in Rodinal 1+25 for 7 mins.


Oxford: Chicago dress rehearsal part 2

Saturday, November 30th, 2013

When I arrived at the Chicago dress rehearsal last week there was already a roll of film in my camera so I finished it off with some quick portraits of some of the performers before the dress rehearsal started proper. I rarely use on-camera flash in any kind of auto mode but I thought this was a good opportunity to test it out so I set the flash to TTL mode and bounced the flash from the ceiling in the corridor. I manually set the exposure on the camera to keep things consistent. These were all shot  between f2 and f4.

[Tech info:] Nikon F100, 50/1.4D lens loaded with Agfa Vista 200 (Poundland), processed and scanned by Simon at ASDA Swindon.

chicago dress rehearsal

Oxford: Chicago dress rehearsal

Tuesday, November 26th, 2013

If you’re one of the lucky people that got to see Chicago last week I’m sure these pictures will remind you how great the production was, if you didn’t manage to catch it then these pictures will show you a little of what you missed. I’ve got some very special film that I keep for special occasions and I was excited to photograph this dress rehearsal because it meant I could test out some of this film because it’s designed to be used under tungsten lighting conditions. What makes it so special is that it’s Kodak motion picture film, the same stock that is used by Hollywood studios for movies and tv shows. Under regular tungsten lighting this film can look incredible but because the colour of the lights kept changing during the performance it’s hard to get a sense of what this film is capable of rendering. I’m very pleased with these results and look forward to testing some more of it soon.

[Tech info:] Nikon F100, 50/1.4D lens, Cinestill 500T film, developed and scanned at ASDA, Swindon (thanks to Simon).

chicago dress rehearsal

chicago dress rehearsal

Oxford: …and all that jazz part 2

Sunday, November 17th, 2013

Here are some medium format film shots that I made last weekend during one of the rehearsal’s for Chicago that is on in a few days at the Keble O’Reilly theatre. This film expired in 2007 and generally high-speed film doesn’t age well so I’m very pleased with how these turned out considering the light level was incredibly low and not very contrasty. I was partly using this occasion as a test for a bright (Beattie) viewing screen that I recently installed into my Mamiya C330f camera and I’m happy to report that it’s a lot brighter and easier to focus with than the stock screen.

[Tech info:] Mamiya C330f, 80/2.8 lens loaded with Ilford Delta 3200 (expired 2007), rated at ISO 1250, processed in Rodinal 1+25 for 10mins.

Oxford: …and all that jazz

Thursday, November 14th, 2013

Some shots from a rehearsal for Chicago which is on next week at the Keble O’Reilly theatre from 20th – 23rd November. From what I saw I can tell you that it’s going to be excellent. I almost titled this post ‘adventures in grain’ because that’s something I was testing when I chose to use some  Ilford Delta 3200 that expired in 2006 for this shoot and then developed it in developer that is renowned for its ability to increase film grain. I think the film coped very well considering the room where the rehearsal took place had sunlight pouring in at one end while the other end was only lit by the energy saving light bulbs hanging from the high ceiling which was quite a punishment test for this film. My thanks go to Jack Sain, the director, for allowing me to photograph during the rehearsal and I hope to do some more photography during the dress rehearsal next week.

[Tech info:] Nikon F100, 50/1.4D and 70-200/2.8 lenses, loaded with Ilford Delta 3200 rated at ISO 1250 (expired), processed in Rodinal 1+25 for 10mins.

Drama: Rope, Oxford Union Society

Wednesday, February 27th, 2013

Here’s a set of images I made at the dress rehearsal for Rope which was being staged at the Oxford Union Society (one of my favourite venues for photography). It was a tight schedule but fortunately for me things were running a little behind so I had time to try some different setups. When I arrived the last rays of sunshine were streaming into the windows to produce the most amazing ambience but sadly the actors weren’t in costume at that time. It was completely dark outside by the time the actors were ready so I lit all of these shots with the floor standing lamps that were part of the set. I’m pleased with how they turned out and I especially like the shot at the bottom right hand corner.

[Tech info:] Mamiya RB67 with 90mm and 180mm lenses, loaded with Kodak Tri-X rated at ISO 1600. Processed in Rodinal 1:50.

Drama: Killing Hitler

Monday, October 15th, 2012

Back in May I was invited to do some photography during the dress rehearsal of a theatre production called Killing Hitler by the director of the production. Unfortunately I couldn’t make it so instead I went along to the opening night to try to squeeze in a little photography during curtain up. You’d think I would have learnt my lesson from trying that during a production of Cabaret with not a huge amount of success but I felt it was worth a try. Needless to say the cast and crew had more important things on their minds than to make time for my photography so all I managed to get was these three shots. It’s a shame because the set for the opening scene looked really good with the lighting. My thanks go to the director, Lucie Dawkins and the cast and crew for putting up with me.

[Tech info:] Mamiya M645 1000S, 80/f1.9 lens, loaded with Fuji Acros 100 film, processed in Kodak HC110 (dilution b).


Drama: Killing Hitler, O’Reilly Theatre, Keble College, Oxford

Wednesday, May 16th, 2012

Earlier this evening I did a little photography at the O’Reilly Theatre in Keble College as the actors were warming up for the opening night of Killing Hitler, a production directed by Lucinda Dawkins. My original plan was to do photography during the dress rehearsal yesterday evening but I was unable to make it. You’d think I would have learnt my lesson about photographing during an opening night after I tried it at a production of Cabaret at the very same theatre but no, I didn’t learn so it was no surprise that the actors were busy preparing for the production so I didn’t manage to get many shots. Sorry. It was such a shame because the costumes, set and lighting looked really good. If you get a chance you should go and see it.

I might have time to go back again on Saturday, we’ll see. For now all I have to post is this diptych of Freddie who I had previously photographed during a dress rehearsal for POSH earlier this year. I manage to get a few other shots but I haven’t finished the roll that they’re on.

[Tech info:] Mamiya RB67, 90mm lens and diptych Polaroid back which allows me to make two exposures on the same print. This scan is from the reclaimed negative part of Fuji FP-100C instant pack film.

Freddie Bowerman as Anthony Eden.