First Date at TYA Teen Professionals

Heading in for the headshot shoot, there was quite the captivating sunset.

I really enjoy my relationship with Red Branch Theatre Company/Drama Learning Center. A little theater buried in a non-descript industrial park on Red Branch Rd. in Columbia, Maryland.

They have a well-deserved reputation for both developing young talent and producing theatre that is out-sized for what would be expected by the size of their theater and budget. Beyond that, they are a now 501(c) non-profit with a socially conscious mission to tie their productions to important messages for their community.

My latest work with them was for the area premiere of the musical First Date. When I was asked to schedule headshots, the date conflicted with a planned trip to Atlanta for Imaging USA. So, we had to push that back to the same night as production stills. So, now, I’m shooting headshots and production stills less than two days before the show opens all on the same night. In an attempt to simplify things, I had their awesome stage manager, Dana, send me a couple of set pictures while I was away. It was enough to convince me that I wanted to try to shoot the headshots in the set, a bar/restaurant which is the setting for almost the entire show. This would, at least, alleviate the setup and lighting for a backdrop.

Since we were planning on shooting character headshots, I could shoot with a bit more edge than I usually do for teenage actors. I originally planned on a 3 light setup. But that ended up too cumbersome for moving around the set to get a different setting for each actor. Also, I had a bit less than 30 minutes to set up and test before shooting more than a dozen actors. So, my key light was one of my Phottix Mitros TTL Flash For Nikon with a 1/2 CTO Gel and the Rogue Photographic Design ROGUEXLPRO2 Flash Bender 2 XL Pro Lighting System (Black/White). For the fill I used a second Phottix Mitros TTL Flash For Nikon with a MagGrid and a blue gel to give some separation and tie it into the set motif.

Kendall Grove as Remedy Rose

Patrick Campbell as Aaron Goldfarb

Daniel A Joya as Reggie Knowles

Naomi Muwowo as Renee Lee

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

MORE HEADSHOTS

This lighting setup worked pretty much how I hoped it would. A nice separation from the background, some shape to their faces and yet they seem perfectly in place in the restaurant.  16 headshots, under an hour. *Phew*!

Now, I just have to shoot the production stills. I’ve talked about the challenges of shooting without knowing the show, the blocking or the lighting before. This was no different. I won some,







and I lost some… but, hopefully, you’ll never see those.
MORE PRODUCTION STILLS

I can’t think of a bad photographic experience I’ve had. Every one is an opportunity to learn, improve, meet people and make images.

I recommend making a trip out to Drama Learning Center and seeing what goes on in Columbia’s latest restaurant A New Leaf.

TYA Professional Training Program presents the AREA PREMIERE of FIRST DATE the Musical

Book by Austin Winsberg
Music & Lyrics by Alan Zachary & Michael Weiner

January 15, 16, 21, 22, 23 at 7:30 PM
January 17 at 2:00 PM

Tickets: $18 in advance, $20 at the door

FEATURING
Lauren Alberg, Flora Aubin, Patrick Campbell, Lila Cooper, Brittany George, Kendall Grove, Daniel Joya-Iglesias, Brandon Love, Aly Murphy, Naomi Muwowo, Ellie Parks, AJ Patel, Ava Pirie, Jason Quackenbush, Mark Quackenbush, Shannon Taylor

Directed by Stephanie Williams
Music Direction by Tiffany Underwood Holmes
Stage Managed by Lindsay Hopkins
Production Managed by Dana Fleischer
Lighting Design by Lynn Joslin
Props Design by Seth Julius Fallon
Costume Design by Shimra Fine
Set Design by Bush Greenbeck

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Eagles Over Wilde Lake

One day after Winters First Kiss the temps were back over 40 and the sun was re-asserting its control over the Maryland Suburbs. I took the long way home through Columbia town center from my workout and decided to swing by Wilde Lake Park. Maybe a little mid-afternoon landscape or some ducks would be revealed. There were ducks-a-plenty,

but I got distracted.

Was that a bald eagle? I’m pretty sure it was. So, I switched from my 12-40mm that usually sits on my Olympus E-M1 to the 40-150mm. This isn’t exactly a birders dream, but you shoot with what you have and it did give me an effective reach of 300mm. The beauty of the expensive lenses is that they can be shot at full aperture at full zoom. So, at f2.8 ISO200 I was still able to get an action-freezing shutter speed of over 1/2500s.

The real difficulty was shooting against the light. However, I didn’t know if the eagle (I found out later it was a bunch of eagles) was going to hang around the lake long enough for me to get to the other side. So, I tried to keep the sun off my left shoulder and did the best I could.

The eagle(s!) seemed to be in an accommodating mood and stayed around. I learned from some passing bird fanciers (whatever they call themselves) that there had been up to 12 bald eagles seen around the lake in recent days. I could see at least two more hanging in the back part of the lake. I also found out that the eagle without the traditional aspect of white head and tail is a juvenile.

It might have been younger, but it is the one that scored while I was there.

I’m not primarily a bird or even a nature and wildlife photographer, but I couldn’t help getting excited about photographing these amazing animals. Once again, I was struck by how much better my day goes when I step out of my routine, camera in hand, and look around.

These shots and more available for purchase:
http://www.brucefpressphotography.com/Nature/Birds/Eagles-Over-Wilde-Lake/

Images shot with Olympus OM-D E-M1, Olympus M. Zuiko 40-150mm f/2.8 PRO. Processing in Adobe Lightroom, ON1 Effects 10

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Winter’s First Kiss

We had our first real taste of winter today. January 5, 2016. Yes, it was 70 degrees just a day ago and today dawned around 12. Strange times.

There’s a little pond in our neighborhood. Not much more than a drainage ditch, really. You know the kind they create when turning farm land into subdivisions. The ones that keep people’s basements from flooding.


Well, the beauty of these necessities to human expansion is that nature finds them. They make it home.

Birds, fish, deer and wild plants take root. This provides a little oasis of forest beauty in the suburbs.

So, this is where my wandering took me this morning. With a change in season, or in weather, for some reason I’m drawn to places where land and water meet. Even if it is not the grandest spot, there’s something to be found.

Images shot with Olympus OM-D E-M1, Olympus M. Zuiko 12-40mm f/2.8. Processing in Adobe Lightroom, ON1 Effects 10

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“It’s a Wonderful W.I.G.” Friday, Dec 11 at HCC’s Horowitz Center

This coming Friday, December 11th, the Horowitz Center at Howard Community College will host the What Improv Group? for their holiday-themed show, “It’s a Wonderful W.I.G.”

I’m treated very well by the various groups I’ve worked with in the HCC theatre community. Their is a little less “we’re doing our thing, please keep up” and a bit more “do you have all the shots you need” than other groups I work with. Which is both a gift and a burden. As someone who is more used to being a fly on the wall, it is a little disconcerting to have attention paid to my shutter, but I have a little more control to be sure to get the shots I need.


I was first introduced to W.I.G. just a few months ago, when I decided to see one of their shows. Their director asked if I would be willing to take some shots of the new cast since I was going to be in attendance. I was fine with this, although it did leave my wife alone for a chunk of the show.

We thoroughly enjoyed their hi-jinks and looked forward to the next show. Which will, unfortunately, occur while we are on vacation. However, I did get a preview last night while taking these shots.
I’ve never done improv, but I’ve watched both the good and the not so good. I’ve also talked to many performers about it. So, I feel I can safely say that improv is hard. Those that can both put themselves out there

and creatively be in the moment

Are rare. There is some really great talent in this group and I can comfortably recommend a fun evening out. So, why don’t you try a W.I.G. on for size? It just might be wonderful.

Friday, December 11, 2015
7:30 p.m. – 9:30 p.m.
(includes one intermission)
Studio Theatre
Directed by S.G. Kramer and Daniel Johnston

Donate a Children’s Picture Book & Receive a Treat in Return! Details below!

W.I.G. takes on the holiday season with jingley-jangley improv surprises for all! Take a break from the hustle-bustle, bring the whole family (ages 8 and up only please!) and join W.I.G. for improv holiday fun!

W.I.G.’s holiday improv show promises joyful, beyond hilarious and sentimental on-the-spot, interactive holiday storytelling, including audience participation for the kids! Ring in the holidays with W.I.G.!

Donate a Children’s Picture Book in Exchange for a Free Intermission Treat:  Get into the wonderful spirit of the season by bringing to the show a new or gently used hard-cover children’s picture book (books suitable for infants to five years old), which will be donated to Howard Community College’s Children’s Learning Center “Library for Little Readers,” and receive a free treat at intermission, courtesy of Arts Collective!

This performance is recommended for ages 8 and up!

WIG’s Cast: Douglas Beatty, Noah Bird, Diego Esmolo, Doug Goodin, Daniel Johnston, Autumn Kramer, Scott Lichtor, Thomas Matera, Apryl Motley, Shannon Willing, Sierra Young… and very special guests!

More Information and Tickets for “It’s a Wonderful W.I.G.”

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Peter Rabbit Headshots at Red Branch Theatre Company

I like opportunities to stretch my skills and make some creative decisions in studio sessions. This doesn’t always happen when I am taking cast headshots for theatrical productions. They are often fit into a very small window of time before a rehearsal and at times the casts are quite large. Like 28 people large. In a window of about 90 minutes. That’s OK, it’s the job and I’ve gotten more adept at it over the years.

For RBTC’s “Peter Rabbit” they asked for character shots. So, I knew this could be a little different than the usual white background setup. I arrived early enough to talk to the costumer prior to setup. I found out the color scheme leaned toward earth tones and oranges. So, I quickly ditched the white or grey backdrops and went with a very pale brown.

Peter Rabbit Headshot SetupThis didn’t seem interesting enough, so I gelled a flash rust color to punch that up. (Turned out, after white balancing, it ended up pretty close to the wall color. Ha!)

I went with a shoot-through umbrella for a soft and forgiving key light, since I didn’t really know what the costumes would be like and a 1/4 CTO gel to keep the subject from ending up too pasty.

A reflector to balance out the shadows and I was ready to go after setting a custom white balance. I also took a selfie with the X-Rite Colorchecker Passport to double down on the color correction just in case the walls caused a weird cast.BFPPHOTO-_BFP4356

 

Here’s a preview of images straight out of the camera (with only a little tonal correction).

Cory Jones

Katie Ganem

Stephanie Williams

Jennie Phelps

Gavin Shown

 

Tierra Strickland

I think the choices worked out well for these images and I’m really looking forward to shooting production stills next week and getting a preview of this world premiere show.

Peter Rabbit at Red Branch Theatre Company | December 11-19, 2015

Music and Lyrics by Dustin Merrell | Based on the classic tale by Beatrix Potter

What happens when an impish bunny disobeys his mother’s command to hop through a big, scary vegetable garden? Find out as the rabbit we all know from our childhood collides head on with a rag tag group of new friends that set off on unforgettable adventures. This exciting new musical adaptation by local composer and Red Branch Company Member Dustin Merrell marks Red Branch’s first ever world premiere.

Tickets Available Here

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Life Events

This past weekend I traveled up to Connecticut for my niece’s Bat-Mitzvah.

While I didn’t officially photograph the event (for various reasons I’ll probably write about later),

 

However, I couldn’t help taking a couple pictures of my crazy nephew

 

 

 

 

and niece.
 Uh, nieces.

While we traveled up there for one nieces’ life event, we couldn’t ignore that another niece recently had a very different kind of event in her life. So, I grabbed a few shots here too.

Mom

Dad

Grandma

A baby.

It’s what I do.

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Argonautika – Howard Community College

One of the privileges of my job, such as it is, is to get to see lots of theatre. I have had a love of theatre since I was in elementary school and my mom would take us to shows at Storrowton Theater (a Summer theatre in-the-round under a tent in Springfield, Ma. during the 60s and 70s).

Last night I shot production stills for Argonautika at Howard Community College. This is a student production of Mary Zimmerman’s play depicting the voyages of Jason and The Argonauts (of Greek Mythology fame).

This play is a wonderful adaptation of the story with great comedic elements highlighted with, oh, a bit of anachronism.

A few costumes that one my consider. Ah, silly.

What else does this play have?

Are you kidding?

Fencing, fighting,

torture, revenge,

giants, monsters,

chases, escapes, true love, miracles…

and Goddesses!

The comparison to the Princess Bride is apt (did you get that reference?), this show has it all and it is lovely.

The set works very well and the cast clearly has a great time in the production.

“Argonautika” by Mary Zimmerman

Directed by Jenny Male

November 12 – 21 \ Studio Theatre
The HCC Theatre Program is proud to present Argonautika, written by Tony Award winner Mary Zimmerman. In this powerful story, the goddesses Hera and Athena weave together an epic tale about the adventures of Jason and the Argonauts and the fateful and haunting romance between Medea and Jason. Come see the dazzling sword fights and spectacles on this journey and share in the joys and heartbreaks of these well-loved mythological characters.

Buy Tickets Online

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Pendulum – Kinetics Dance Theatre 


Saturday evening, November 7th, 2015, Kinetics Dance Theatre’s professional company had their Fall show at Slayton House in Columbia, Maryland. KDT’s choreography is always inventive and expressive creating many interesting photographic opportunities.

I really love shooting these dance performances. They are some of my most challenging assignments. Why? Really? Fast movement…


Low light…


Changing conditions…


no second chances…


And no idea where to shoot or what is coming next.

All while trying not to ruin the experience for the paying audience. The best of times, the worst of times. I honestly don’t know if I have anything until I  get home. That makes the solid shots so much more gratifying.



  
Every one of these shots feels like a huge win. Oh, I actually got a few more than these too and I haven’t been through the whole set yet.

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There will be blood

Last season, one of the standout shows at Red Branch Theatre Company was “Carrie: The Musical” staged by TYA, their teen professional company. This was the first show since the theatre renovations and the depth of the stage area changed everything for productions at this great little theater in Howard County, Maryland. There was new depth and and it was used to spectacular effect in this show.

Keeping with Red Branch’s mission to be socially conscious in its productions and outreach, the bullying elements of the Carrie story were used as a jumping off point for discussions of how we treat each other both in the meat world and on social media.

Carrie: The Musical at RBTC TYA

Carrie: The Musical at RBTC TYA

Besides being wonderful creatives and great folks, it’s this mission that really excites me about my relationship with them. You’ll read me writing about that often.Carrie: The Musical at RBTC TYA
So, this show was back in January, why am I writing about it now? Well, because I’m trying to blog more and because I was recently asked for images from the show for a review Stephanie Williams was writing for the theatrical blood company that provided the gooey effects for the big scene at the dance.

I’m trying to be better about getting compensation for my work when someone asks for it. In this case, since I was originally compensated by the theatre, I felt it was reasonable to ask for something for them. In this case, the nice people at Gravity Momentum were willing to give Red Branch some free blood (which I understand will be very useful next season!)

So, here is the review and my photos and just in case it disappears
Carrie Review at Gravity Momentum

 

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