Pleasant Valley Intermediate School’s Musical: Peter Pan, Jr.

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Pleasant Valley Intermediate School is fortunate to have Ms. Snyder and Mrs. Hicks as teachers. Not only are they very capable and quality teachers, but they put on a spring musical each year that rivals some high school productions!

This year’s musical, Peter Pan, Jr. is no exception. The students opened Friday night at PVI and they brought the house down! Peter Pan, Tinker Bell, Wendy, Captain Hook, and all the rest took the stage and presented a musical that was entertaining. Parents and guests had the first-hand experience of seeing the talent of these young students. Ms. Snyder and Mrs. Hicks did it again; they prepared their students and the production was sensational!

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I also had the opportunity to try out the new Nikon D7100 at this performance. Musicals can be quite tricky to photograph because theater lighting is typically spotty. Bright areas and dark shadows are usually only a hair-breath away from each other. High ISO settings are required. My D300 is okay, but I get nervous when I have to push above ISO 1600. Well, enter the D7100! I was told this camera could perform, even at the high ISO settings, and I found out tonight that this is accurate. The photos you see here in this blog entry are all at ISO 3200! Unbelievable! As I was editing my photos earlier, I was struck by how many times I hit the “pick” button in Lightroom because the quality of these photos from the D7100 are so good!

Congratulations to Ms. Snyder, Mrs. Hicks, and all their students! If you haven’t seen Peter Pan, Jr. yet, I sure hope you get to attend on Saturday night or Sunday afternoon. You’ll be in for quite a show!

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A “Director’s Cut” of a movie is the Director’s own preferred edit. “Dances With Wolves,” one of my all-time favorite movies, has a Director’s Cut. So this got me to thinking–since I am a still photographer why not create my own version of the “Director’s Cut” from my photo galleries?

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My creative thinking was based on two reasons. First, on any photo shoot, I have my personal favorite shots that I prefer for one reason or another. It might be the lighting, the composition, the expression on a face, or any other reason why I just like some of my photographs. Second, I create very large photo galleries after a photo shoot. For example, at the recent Pleasant Valley High School musical, “You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown!” I produced over 9,000 photos! Even once the photos are edited and the bad ones removed, this results in some extremely large galleries. So my second reason was to offer more manageable photo galleries for visitors on my website to view.

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I am calling these preferred photographs from a photo shoot “Pcuts.” They represent this photographer’s personal favorites for one reason or another.

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I just posted my newest Pcuts of the first performance of “You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown!” on my website. If you care to view these Pcuts (my personal favorites), you can view them here. The photographs you see here are just a few of the Pcuts from Friday’s performance.

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Pleasant Valley High School’s Dress Rehearsal of “You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown!”

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Pleasant Valley High School just finished a fantastic weekend performing the musical: “You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown!” The students did an absolutely wonderful job and the co-directors, Mr. & Mrs. Mulligan did an amazing job preparing these actors for the weekend. They should all be very proud!

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I had the opportunity to capture the drama on the stage with my camera. I attended all the performances, including the Dress Rehearsal. The photographs here in this blog entry are just a few of my favorite “Pcuts” which stands for “photographer’s cuts” or my favorites of this performance. I still have to edit the photos from the three live performances so I have a lot of work to do!

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I hope these photographs do justice to the outstanding performance of these PV students. They were absolutely amazing!

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You can see all the Pcuts of the Dress Rehearsal here.

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You can view all the photographs from the Dress Rehearsal here.

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Fun with Collages

Yes, I confess; I am really having fun creating photo collages these days!

A combination of events contributed to this. One contributing factor is the photo shoots I’ve been fortunate to photograph this week. Pleasant Valley High School’s performance of Oklahoma and the baseball games are just two quick examples. Then, my brother, shared some tips on how to better create photo collages.

All this is helping the creative side of my photography interests and I have to say I am thoroughly enjoying this new-found challenge!

What do you think of this photo collage?

Capturing the Event Photographically

Our daughter, Lydia, performed in Oklahoma at Pleasant Valley High School this weekend. The musical was fantastic and extremely well done!

Photographing theater is a definite challenge but one that I do enjoy. I attempt to capture the facial expressions and the passion of the actors. The lighting presents one of the biggest challenges both because of the lack of light and the requirement to shoot without flash. But I am learning to work with the light available in the different venues. An f-stop of f/2.8 does help, so my preferred lens is the 70-200mm. This provides enough reach to create images of the actors that are full frame or thereabouts.

Now capturing the action with my camera is only part of the equation. What do I do with these photographs? Well, lately, I’ve been honing my skills in Photoshop to create collages. These custom collages try to capture the story and emotion of the musical. The collage here is my first attempt to capture Oklahoma from Friday’s performance.

What do you think of this collage? Does it tell a story? Does it capture the action of the musical?


Lydia, our theatrical daughter, enjoys performing in community theater. Last weekend The Sherman Theater hosted Ragtime. The actors/singers/dancers in this musical were astounding! Their voices, expressions, and stage movement provided wonderful opportunities for photography.

Now don’t think for a minute this was easy. No, the light wreaked havoc on exposure settings and the low-level of light blurred just about any movement whatsoever. Add to this the variant colors of the stage lighting and you begin to get an idea of what I was facing. Fortunately, I was able to capture some of the wonderful facial expressions of the actors and I believe the following photographs show at least some of this expressive drama.

Photographs require light and light is the subject we are after many times. Light can make or completely destroy a photograph. I was shooting without flash, which wasn’t allowed and is a huge distraction for the actors, so available light was the only option. AsĀ  you can see in these photos, the colors of the lights changed from red, to yellow, to blue. I found that darkening the background worked some of the time but it was a struggle to work with the available light and get images in focus. Even with my f/2.8 70-200mm Nikkor Lens, this was not possible much of the time. Facial expressions can also make a photograph successful and certainly help to tell the story and drama of the musical. Facial expressions are great and I believe the facial expressions in these photos make them work. What do you think?


Selling Photographs

I heard a very interesting podcast tonight while I was driving in my truck. That discussion revolved around the differences between the different ways to market and sell images. Mainly, they were discussing the difference between “rights managed,” and “royalty free” pricing.

Have any of you had any success selling photographs?

A majority of my photo sales are with parents who want the action images I captured in a baseball game, a school musical, or some other event. This is much different from selling photographs to magazines or other venues. I also sell wildlife and landscape photos occasionally. But I am curious to how you market and sell your photos. What works for you? Are any of you into micro-stock photography, for example, selling photos on iStockPhoto or some company like that? What works? What do you find frustrating?

Stage Lighting and Backgrounds

This past weekend I photographed a Christmas musical that my daughter had a role in as Holly Moss. I find stage light to be difficult and un-user friendly much of the time. The problem is that many different colored lights create all kinds of light casts on the actors and have a way of tinting skin and hair to amazingly unhuman qualities. It can get quite funky!

I choose to go without flash for two reasons: first, most of the time flash is not allowed in these situations, and second, I want to portray the lighting as we see it in the actual performance. These seem like pretty good reasons to me.

I have found that dark, black backgrounds are the best in these conditions. Other backgrounds not only can get busy looking, but they can reflect a lot of different colors that come from the stage lights. Black is predictable more so than any other background and it seems to swallow up some of the ambient light colors that reek havoc on skin tones.

The next time you are out on a photo shoot think more about the backgrounds and try a black one if possible. It works beautifully at times when nothing else seems to work at all.

Portraits & Headshots

If you had predicted that I would some day be photographing portraits and headshots I would not have ever believed you. Funny how our children bring us into things we never even dreamed of doing!

Our daughter, Lydia, is very much into musicals, singing, acting, dancing, and performing. She sings in our church, performs in many community plays and musicals and does the same in her school. Just as our son, James, gives me opportunities to photograph baseball games, Lydia gives me the privilege of photographing plays and musicals. Moreover, she sometimes needs a headshot for an audition and enjoys sitting in as my model as I learn how to do this more effectively.

Headshots and portraits were never high up on my list of photographic interests until Lydia started with all of this. Now I am finding the challenge to be invigorating and rewarding! I am learning more and more how to make better portraits and headshots these days!

High School Musical 2

Tonight I attended the dress rehearsal for High School Musical 2 at the Sherman Theater. It was awesome!

All the hard work and dedication of the actors and crew is going to pay off big time this weekend. If you have a chance to attend one of these performances, I strongly urge you to be there. You can order tickets online at the Sherman Theater’s home page.

Photographing a musical dress rehearsal is not easy and present a number of challenges. The lighting is great at spots and lousy elsewhere, at least for photography. I finally settled in on using manual mode and shot in RAW. I will be going through these photos tomorrow and hope to have them posted on my website in another day or two.

I just hope my photos are half as good as the performance by the actors. This is one awesome production!