I covered a job Wednesday that made me smile, even laugh, and that is a big deal right now. The Athens Storytellers Festival is in its third year but this is my first time to shoot the event. I loved it. Not the light. It is ugly! The light filters through a big top style tent that is red and white striped and there are two huge halogen floodlights bounced off the top for interior lighting. Not nice. But the event is great.
I heard two storytellers Wednesday, Donald Davis and Carmen Deedy. The lady was hilarious. She told a story about a boy coming of age in the Mississippi swamp country. The idea was the boy had to face and overcome his fears made manifest in the form of the ‘hairy man.’ She does great voices and her body language is wonderful. I could have listened to her all afternoon. Mr. Davis also told a hilarious story about the time his mom asked he and his brother to babysit their younger brother. The consequences were a hilarious disaster that involved an entire bottle of Calamine Lotion.
I shot the event with the D3 and an 80-200 at ISO 3200. This was giving me an exposure around 1/320th at f2.8. The only problem was the color of the light. It was mostly red and balancing or toning that out is difficult. I also mixed in the 50mm f1.4, an old manual lens I found lying around the office and the 17-35 for a couple of shots. The entire shoot was done available light. Strobe in that big tent would have been fairly useless and would have changed the light quality which wasn’t actually bad. It was just the color of light that was hard to deal with. The light itself was soft and made photographing faces a breeze.
So the story on shooting storytellers is all in the faces. You shoot the storyteller because they are continually making faces as they tell their tall tales and you shoot the audience reacting to the story. In this case it was all elementary age school children which is nice because they just react. They don’t think about what the person sitting next to them will think about it so you get some nice facial expressions from the kids too.
This is a classic ‘shooting fish in a barrel’ type assignment. There are not any major technical challenges aside from the red light and all you have to do is lock in and shoot. It is great. You can have fun, hear some really good stories and bang away to heart’s content. That is what I call a photo assignment!
Photos copyright Gary Cosby Jr., The Decatur Daily. The opinions expressed in this blog are my own and do not necessarily represent those of my employer.