Performance

Sound Stage

I was recently asked to photograph Centrepointe Theatre’s new sound system.

I am a volunteer at Centrepointe on the stage crew, primarily as a lighting operator, but other things as well. The Supervisor of Production Services (Matt) asked if I would come and make a few images of the new setup. It’s a major update for the theatre, the same speakers had been there for 25 years. These new arrays are just awesome. During the shoot, I put on some of my favourite tunes to listen to. Amazing. I heard stuff in the mix I’d never heard before. What’s more, its very high tech. Everywhere in the theatre sounds the same and at the same volume, whether you are in the front row, back row, left or right side of the stage. It all sounds equal and great.

So it was a fun shoot.

Matt is a sound guy, and gave a tour of the system and what it can do. I’m more of a lighting guy, but I have a greater appreciation of the sound end of things.

And I have to give kudos to Scottie, who did the the lighting on stage and did some extra lights on the speaker arras to make them glow a little bit more.

All shots are with the Fuji X-T1 and the Fujinon 10-24 f4 lens.

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Rockraiser and the 16-55

When Fuji announced its 16-55mm f2.8 lens that was weather resistant, I was very happy.

I bought the X-T1 partly because of its weather-sealed body, but without a lens equally sealed, it was not quite there. the long telephoto came out, but this one was in the focal range and aperture I wanted, and the bonus was the weather sealing.

I pre-ordered it, and it came right away when it was officially released. Of course, its winter here in Canada, and its dark early, and everything around is in a range of white and grey. And when there is a blue sky, its frightfully cold. (I just read that Ottawa has had a record 45 nights of colder than -15 Celsius, the last time like this was in 1888.)

I was chomping to get some real colour and use out of this lens. Happily, I was asked to be one of the photographers at RockRaiser, a benefit concert for the Ottawa Independent Living Centre.

The lens was awesome and worked well. Coupled with the X-T1 and its battery grip, it was a perfect balance, and the combo was not heavy at all over the six hours of shooting. My equivalent Nikon would have been more of a burden.

The range was great and the final images, some shown here, worked well. The X-T1 was fine in the crunch of shooting the bands. I’ve read a number of commenters complaining about size and specs. Well here is my comments for that:

Size and weight: yep, its bigger than the typical Fuji lenses. But given what is involved, to make it work, you can’t have your cake and eat it too. Overall, the weight is not oppressive, and the size not that bad. Compared to some of the primes, yes, but its not a prime.

Image Stabilization: Nope, there is none. But I’ve never needed it – never had it with my Nikon 24-70. No big deal. I find it more of a crutch in smaller focal lengths. Need a stable image? Boost the ISO or grab a tripod. Use what you have and make the pictures.

I can’t wait to get out and use this some more. I like the lens. The real bonus to me as well is the filter size. Bigger, yeah, but it means I can continue to use my polarizer and ND filters with it.

So here we are, a few shots from the event. More are in my Gallery > Performance area.

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New Year, Scottish Style

Happy New Year!

I’m a bit slow on this salutation, as I’ve taken upon myself early in the year to relax, and slow down. Last year was busy, hectic and exhausting. So I’m starting with a relaxed attitude. I can safely say I’ve done nearly nothing so far this year.

For New Years eve this year we did somewhat the opposite of the above. We hit three locations over the course of the evening, starting with a nice steak dinner at The Keg (where service is just great), then onto something we tripped across a year ago. It was the Scottish Society of Ottawa’s Hogmanay celebration – Scottish New Year. This year is was moved to a new location at the new Lansdowne park in the pavilion.  Nearly two years ago, we were in Scotland for four days, and have never forgotten it. I am pining to get back as soon as possible (which isn’t soon enough). The land, the culture, the sounds and the whiskey are great. So any chance of reliving that here and we are in.

We stayed for a couple of hours to have a wee taste of the scotch (well, I did). Not the food, since we had recently eaten, but the music and sights of Scotland – kilts, pipes and drums and some great accents. And we learned a bit more about my Scottish background.

These are a few shots of the Glengarry pipes and drums. What a terrific sound of the band, including what I’d call a drum solo. I brought my X-Pro1 and 35mm f1.4 lens. As usual, I could have/should have brought a wider angle, but this was fine.

Scottish flag decorations

Scottish flag decorations

Glengarry Pipes and Drums providing some entertainment.

Glengarry Pipes and Drums providing some entertainment.

Kilts

Kilts!

Pipers of the Glengarry pipes and drums

Pipers of the Glengarry pipes and drums

Drummers in a line.

Drums solo with glowing sticks.

We welcomed in the new year on Scotland time (7pm). It was a fun time, but too short, as we had to make our way to friends for the Canadian countdown. Maybe next year we will stick around for the fireworks. If really fortunate, we can celebrate Hogmanay in Edinburgh. Time will tell.

 

In Sync

In Sync. No, not the boy band.

My girlfriend is involved in synchronized skating. Typically, its about 18-22 women on the ice doing the exact same thing for 2-3 minutes. Think synchronized swimming, but on ice (and no nose plugs). When we first started dating, it was a new thing for me. And in the ensuing years, has become very interesting, and I’ve become totally involved. I’ve learned the lingo and know my “chaussay” (that’s the phonetical spelling) from a “mohawk”.

I also have become the unofficial photographer of the team. That is, I shoot the team photo and their practices, and the occasional competition/show.

When I started shooting the shows, I was diligent in culling the not-so-great shots from the cool ones. I was told they want all the shots. But, I countered, some aren’t great. You want the great ones. I quickly learned, that they want them all for training purposes. Those shots show where members are out of step, and where to improve. So I’ve eased on the culling. But (shhhhh), I still remove the odd one. I will take on the course of a 3 minute program, about 250 shots. They don’t need each shot second-by-second. That’s what video is for.

This shot isn’t the team. Its a different team. They recently did a showcase, and the first few teams up I shot to get my metering and focus set for their performance. But looking through the shots, I like this one. Not that the shots of our team weren’t great, the dress, the pose; everything just fit.

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Its actually the very end of their program. Watch for it, I’ll probably put something up from the Green Machine team later on.

All that Jazz

Last week was busy. Actually, busy is an understatement.

As I do each year for the past five years, I was a member of the volunteer stage crew for the Ottawa JazzFest. This year I was the stage coordinator for the lunch time show on the second stage, and was either helping with coordinating the same stage for the early show, or running lights. Either way, it was early starts and very late nights.

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Highlights included running lights for Elliot Brood, and watching Colin James and Aretha Franklin from the monitor board.

This year I was able to unload the trucks, hang lights, and finish with the loading of the trucks to take all the stage gear away until next year.

This year I made the effort to document some of the shows and setups. I brought my Fuji X-PRo1 and 35mm each day, and if I had the time (which wasn’t as often as I’d hoped) I shot a few frames. Here I put a few of my favourites. The full set is available on my Flickr page. It was an exhausting week, and I can’t wait to do it all again next year.

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Load in

One of my many “hobbies” includes working as stage crew for various theatres in the city. As well, every June, I also am on stage crew for the Ottawa JazzFest. For me, it is one of the highlights of June, and truly initiates summer.

This year is no different, and the other day I took the day to help with the load in of the main lighting and sound equipment. All this gear is rented from a company in Ajax. They bring it all up on a 40 foot truck. So the first order of business is unloading the truck and putting road cases in locations where they will be needed. For the most part, the cases include lights (and their cables, control consoles and such) and sound (speaker arrays, monitors, more consoles and a lot more cables).

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A fraction of load in for the jazz festival.

After unloading, I took time out in our rest period to take a few frames of the cases. By the end of the day, we had the lights up, speakers in place and cabling near done. And at the end of the festival, we do it all in reverse. Striking it takes a lot less time, and loading the truck is an art unto itself.

JazzFest runs from June 20 to July 1. If you are in the Ottawa area, its truly worth checking out.

Oceans Apart

Being a volunteer at a number of theatres and venues, I have a large group of creatives within my circle of friends. Of those is Alain Chauvin. I met him when working a show at Ottawa Little Theatre. He has since moved into writing a play about a Canadian soldier and his battle with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and his journey across Canada to figure things out, meeting a buddy in Saskatoon en route to the west coast.

Well, that’s the Coles Notes version.

Alain was fortunate enough to have his play selected to be put on at the Ottawa Fringe Festival this month (June 20, 21, 26-28). I asked to photograph his show, and in the conversations, ended up doing some set design for him as well, creating a cool lighting effect on two benches, that represent the two coasts of the country. I’ll take a moment to make a nod to Les Petite Ballet, another group I helped set up in May for lending us the benches for this production.

Oceans Apart Rehearsal

Oceans Apart Rehearsal

Alain asked me to come to a rehearsal to shoot some promo shots, and it worked out that I could deliver the set pieces as well. If you want to see the set pieces, you’ll have to see the show. I can say without prejudice, it is a fine show, and worth the trip downtown to see, and the Ottawa Jazz Festival is on at the same time. The photos here are a small selection of the shots I made.

I used the Fuji X-T1. Love the high ISO settings with little degradation on image quality.