I was asked to take some photos at a rehearsed reading of a new musical, Billy Buckett, last week (a rehearsed reading is basically a run through of a musical without formal choreography where the actors are holding their scripts). I had bought a new camera body that week (my very belated Christmas/birthday present), so I was fairly eager to try it out in low light – it’s a huge step up from my previous body, and deals with high ISO like a dream, taking relatively clear photos with the ISO set at 2000, whereas my previous body would churn out horribly grainy photos once I got up to 800 or so. So I was relatively confident that I could deal with low light, but what I hadn’t considered was a combination of low light plus dazzlingly bright light from the spotlights.
Everything I took with my own settings was horribly overexposed, and I couldn’t actually see in order to fiddle too much with them – I was shining my phone onto the camera so I could see which way I was turning the dials, much to the consternation of the people sitting next to me. “The director asked me to take photos,” I hissed at them reassuringly, so that they would realise I wasn’t being randomly irritating, but was instead being irritating at the behest of the director. I eventually gave up and switched to auto, which worked fairly well apart from dealing with the spotlights. I would have a series of photos where the actors in the background were beautifully exposed and clear, and the actor singing the song would be a glaring white blob. I’m not even sure how to deal with that – I would imagine if I adjusted my shutter speed so that it exposed the person under the spotlights properly, then the background would be completely black and you wouldn’t see the other actors at all. Not that I could see enough to try doing that in any case, so I kept shooting on auto and hoped for the best.
I ended up pulling 50 semi decent shots from around 800, and the husband commented that it was lucky I’d had the nice new camera. Which is something that normally irritates me, when people look at a photo I’ve taken and say “Wow, you must have a lovely camera.” Because yes, I do have a lovely camera, but I would vastly prefer them to say, “Wow, you’re an awesome photographer”, as I like to have my ego stroked at every opportunity. But it’s not really something I can get on my high horse about when I’ve taken photos on auto, because apart from me zooming and pressing a button, I didn’t have much to do with the process. Although I did set the ISO, I suppose. Me and the D7000. We’re a team.