The Underwater Shooting Film Extravanganza - Comments of the Photographer
Shooting in the dark of the UWP interior, silent, to not disrupting the flow of beautiful sounds, stealthy so to speak, with a digital camera that is even more prone to a color cast, being forced to stay put, not blocking the view for the other guests, ... Well it requires to be a fly at the wall. Or being the invisible man. Neither am I.
I try to be respectful, ask for permission to take pictures and offer to put the pictures on my website - that is where I present a collection. I stay put. I press the shutter button only in the moment when I am sure that my camera “click” is unheard. Well, at least for the singer. I do not block the view. And yet I wished I could walk around, like a film director searching for the the right camera angle while the actors rehearse. Trying out new angles that emphasize the the expression, the lyrics and even more the feeling of the song, getting the best picture of that person, in all its glory and beauty.
But this is no rehearsal, this is a live performance and I am not invited to disturb the creative process. For some singers the situation on being so close to their audience - lovers of classic music or not - is intimidating. There is no need for a witness sticking his lense in the scene.
So, what to do? Use video? Maybe a tiny GoPro camera? The phone?
No way! I want to document the moment, the artists using all their skills, expression and singing technique to present an aria or song in its entire beauty. Plus that little extra that only a photograph can deliver: A moment frozen in time. A glimpse into the beauty of singing. No artist resists the flattery of an excellent image of the themselves, something they can stick on their social network page or hand over to their agent for promotion.
When all was already difficult enough I wanted to raise the bar: Use film and a vintage camera that clicks louder than a thunder clash. Voila, a disaster in preparation, I thought. Yet here I was, fumbling with the manual focus lens, hoping for a loud song to disguise the noise of the mirror flapping in camera body. Not knowing if I had an out of focus shot - or was spot on. There was that complete unknown of film. Was the exposure right? Was the movement of the singer going to show a blur on the film? Was this an expensive let down?
Carry on I thought, 36 exposures on one roll, how much had I left? Too dark to read the meter. Was my depth of field right? Who knows...
2 weeks later I felt like a little boy when my film was developed and scanned by this little retro photo shop in the center of Oslo.
And what I saw was this: Perfection and rubbish. The grain, pictures where in and out of focus and an immediately lesson learned: Forget the rules of framing and everything you ever read in photo magazines. Put the person in the center. Make it big! Show eternal beauty in black and white.
No wonder I love the pictures of jazz musicians so much. A great facial expression is always going to end as a great picture. Period.
So here they are: 3 artists. And a selection of only the best shots from a roll of 36. Camera: Nikon FE. Film: Ilford XP 3200 ISO. Lenses: Carl ZEISS 135mm, f2.0; Carl ZEISS 85mm, f 1.4. A Benro monopod. And a happy finger on the shutter button.
Caroline Wettergren is "in the zone".
Bo Elley listening to the last couple of chords of his song.
Stine Levvel with an enchanting rendition of the mermaid aria by composer Dvorsak
Caroline Wettergren with her "signature aria" of the queen of the night, from Mozarts last opera "The Magic Flute".
Good night, I hope you enjoyed yourselves...