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This month I have worked with the London Symphony Orchestra on two occasions; once in Abbey Road Studios, during a recording session and once with a few of the musicians and quite a few of the “friends” at Teddington Lock studios.

I find the dynamic and the musical ability of large orchestras like the LSO absolutely astonishing and this really comes to the fore in the recording studio where the rehearsal time is usually minimal (or non-existant). At the beginning of the month I joined the LSO for a recording session (in the famous studio 1 at Abbey Road) to create a series of informal portraits to be used in this years advance booker brochure.

Silent cameras are required to take photos such as this during recording.

Working during a session requires the upmost care, understanding and of course silence! Nikon cameras are notoriously noisy so I hired in a silencer (basically a big padded box) that encompasses the camera and lens and feeds though just the minimum of controls. Before shooting all the exposure controls needed pre-setting (luckily the light does not change in a session) leaving me with just the shutter to fire…

The players clearly enjoy their work

My newest purchase, the Fujifilm X100 has a slient mode that is, well, silent. This meant I was walking round with a black box about 300mm square on one shoulder and the smartest little retro designed camera on the other. It did make for a few comments from the players. The X100 performed almost as well as my main Nikon DSLR.

Bass player

Last weekend I joined a number of them again along with RedTed Films as the new promotional film was shot. The aim again was informal portraits for the “Friends of the Orchestra” brochure as well as general documenting and PR for both the LSO and RedTed.

Setting up the HD camera

Quite often the first comment from photographers who have not shot in a white studio is “well at least you will have plenty of light”.

Filming

Thats not the case as the video cameras actually need a little less light (in simplistic terms each frame on a video is at normally about 4 times longer than the a typical still image exposure meaning 4 times as much light gets in).

The group filing the studio space

Again the key is having a stills photographer that understands the filming process and its requirements. The lighting guys produced a really nice set-up and light and by working closely with the production team I was able to create some great portraits .

Enjoying the interview

Still images combine really well with videos particularly on websites and ensuring that the still images have the same look and atmosphere of the video (as I have done here) they can break down the barrier between the web (the domain of the video) and the printed matter such as brochures.

This weekend I travel to Goma in the Democratic Republic of Congo with CARE International to document the great work they are doing out there following the troubles.I’m expecting it to be a very busy and interesting week which I look forward to writing about on my return.