The Performance - Exposing for The Stage

The house lights dim and the audience stifles in anticipation with whispered and hushed murmurs. Maybe the stage is hidden by a thick, velvet curtain waiting to open. Maybe the stage is open, revealing a darkened outline of instruments and props. This stage waits, expectant of the life and energy of music; the percussive sounds and artistry about to fill the space, straight to the hearts of the audience.

Such is the atmosphere of the live performance. The performer outputs a rendition of their song, dance. Sometimes better than the last time, sometimes not, but each performance is perfect and imperfect, each unique. Sometimes the performer wonders how he or she could create such beautiful sound even as the music is being created. That’s when you as the performer get back all that you give.

One of my "goals" is to take the time and effort (because I'm old and would rather spend my evenings curled up on the couch with my cat) to get out and enjoy more live music, theatre and dance performances. Back in November, we attended a concert by the a cappella group, Straight No Chaser and their policy on photography allowed me to use my DSLR freely.


From a photographer’s perspective, getting the correct exposure is challenging with the often dark edges of the stage and bright spotlights. These extremes confuse the automatic matrix metering so I always flip to spot metering or manual exposure, erring on the side of under exposing. I look for the silhouettes, the light gradients that create depth on the stage. And try to capture the artist in their element - the essence where the purity of sound fills their soul.

And when the lighting falls flat, convert to black and white!

Lights and Song

The best part of the night? When they reverted back to "Old School" a cappella - no mics, no beat boxing, just lush harmonies.
Closing Time

What was the last live performance you enjoyed? Any events on the horizon? We now have tickets to catch violinist Rachel Barton Pine, performing the Barber Violin Concerto (a fave of mine) with the local CU Symphony Orchestra

Barb  – (January 15, 2020 at 4:58 PM)  

Wow - I'm so impressed with your photos, Shirley! It's so difficult to take stage photos - all that light and shadow. Unfortunately, we have nothing on the agenda. In the winter, we're leery of bad roads so rarely go out at night. (Now that's getting really old!)

Diane  – (January 21, 2020 at 11:09 AM)  

oops, my original post must have disappeared. You've done a great job on these stage photos. I also really love the black and white conversion. I too plan to take in more live performances.

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