Another weekend, another challenge of shooting live performances.
This one, a benefit for the Metropolitan School of the Arts, presented a particular challenge. Held at the George Washington Masonic Memorial, the event featured performances by the iMpulse Youth Jazz Dance Company, Metropolitan Youth Ballet, Metropolitan Youth Tap Ensemble, students from the MSA Academy, and area professional musicians.
The second annual event served as a benefit for MSA's Next Stage Building Campaign to develop world-class performance and educational facilities at the Alexandria and Lorton campuses. It was the first time MSA has used the Masonic Memorial facilities, and the lighting system had to be put up on the fly.
I wrote about the challenge of shooting live events in a blog entry last month following a similar performance at the Atlas Performing Arts Center in Washington, D.C. From a photographer's standpoint, that event was magical because the lighting was just perfect.
The lighting was not the problem for this show, but the venue — despite its beauty — did present some issues. The stage was not large enough for the companies to perform, meaning they had to dance on the cement floor in front of the proscenium. That meant the dancers were too close for me to get a truly good angle, so I had to move up to the top of the theatre early on and stay there for the most part.
At that point, the overhead and side lights presented a number of hurdles. If the person was captured in the spotlight, that meant their face would be blown out and the shot would be ruined. In other places, the shadows were so dark that the dancers were obscured partially or entirely.
I found some work arounds while shooting the dress rehearsal. Fortunately, I had seen many of the numbers in similar form at Atlas, so I knew what I wanted and knew what I liked. By the time the performance started, I thought I had it all figured out.
Here are the results.