A photographer’s challenge!

I’ve been busy processing and finally delivering over 700 images to the e-Luminate team and various PR agencies etc., but now have a bit more time to share a few reflections from the e-Luminate, Cambridge event I photographed recently.

The first of these posts details a very tricky challenge set for me (and another photographer , Matt Widgery) which was a concert (featuring Rosy Anoush and Andrea Manzoni) at Great St. Mary’s Church, in the dark, with only one LED (for the pianist to see the score) and a tiny bit of ‘light pollution’ from outside.



I’m sure most people have tried to take images in the dark/low light and been disappointed with the outcome. Photographers (or those who can work off automatic settings) have a little leeway because they understand how images can be taken, often use RAW (which captures more data) and can adjust settings to capture a better image in low light, often without a flash or have a controllable flash.

In this scenario, even with all the technical know how (thanks to Matt for helping me shift my thinking) and good quality equipment (Canon EOS 7D Digital SLR Camera ) there was very little for the camera to work with. Obviously a flash wasn’t possible, and would have changed the nature of the performance.

The resulting shots were taking from both nearby (estimated 1-3 meters, 3rd image) and also from the balcony in Great St. Mary’s (guesstimate – 15meters +, 1st 2 images), using different lenses.

(Click on images to view at a larger size)


I think these images are more powerful from the areas where there is an absence of light, and along with the ethos of the concert (to really hear the music without distraction), they make the viewer concentrate on the detail.

All the above images were taken hand held and involved one very tricky lens change. Whilst I don’t often change my lenses out on location, I felt I wanted the extra zoom my 70-300 lens would give me – this meant, in the pitch black, trying to line up two tiny red dots and took over 5 minutes!. A lesson learnt that although I think I’m familiar with the camera, that pitch black lens changing is not something I want to try again!

Sadly I wasn’t able to capture the Soprano (Rosy Anoush) as she was wearing a beautiful (but dark) gown and not visible from the tiny spot of light available.

For me, this was a great challenge and a great learning experience. It turned my head from “it’s super dark so need a tripod” to really thinking about the available light and how best to use it and I think subsequent shots taken have benefitted from my learning.

Hopefully future assignments won’t be quite as challenging as this one, but the great thing about extremes is they make less challenging shoots feel that little bit easier!

More on e-Luminate




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