An Evening of Good Things

Last night, deep in the ancient cellars ... or were they dungeons? ... under the castle in the Swiss town of Nyon, we members of the Leman Poetry Workshop held an evening of readings and music.

It was in celebration of our new website, the publication of our latest anthology Up To Now and a homage to Brian Hughes, an acclaimed poet, founder of the Workshop, and our much-missed mentor.

As well as reading some of my poetry, I took photographs.

Reading your work in front of an expectant audience is a tough challenge but the photography was a tougher. Light levels were very low and, in such a gathering, you can't use flash. The burst of blinding light is too distracting for reader and audience alike.

So, it was a good opportunity to try out the new Nikon 50mm f1.4 prime lens I've just bought.

The lens worked like a dream. With it wide open and the camera speed racked up to ISO 1000 I could hand-hold in the available light:


And, with an aperture of f1.4, the depth of field was shallow, enabling me to focus on one performer whilst showing others, in a non-distracting way, in the background.

The light, though dim, was also beautiful down there and occasionally I got lucky with it highlighting a performer whilst leaving the audience in shadow ...

My one regret with this last photograph is the background line through the performer's head. Could I have avoided it?

I always seem to ask myself questions like that afterwards.

6 comments:

@photovince said...

I don't believe in the perfect photograph, especially when events unfold before your eyes and you can't do any choreography. I don't mind the projection behind the woman's head so much, except a bit for the fact that it is exactly running into her nose. I guess it can only be avoided by location/angle. Going a bit lower would have avoided the nose incident, but too low (to avoid the whole projection) would be artificial and ugly. I'd rather see a bit more of the woman's face, so location permitting would go a bit to the right... but I see than environment dictates much of how you shoot. It's about the event, not the photography!

Alistair Scott said...

Thanks Vince. You're quite right about event photography.

The blue background against her head came from a display of our photographs that was being projected on the wall behind. Unfortunately, a few minutes earlier the display had been changing. But at this point it had switched to a static desktop image as the computer keyboard hadn't been touched for a while.

I couldn't easily move, either, as I'm still recovering from a broken leg.

So, in some ways it was unavoidable.

Even so, I still say "Damn" to myself when this happens.

AntS said...

Fantastic Radio 4 programme on the poetry archive at the weekend (link to archive on the page) - worth a listen http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b00kc071

Alistair Scott said...

Thanks for that link AntS.

John said...

Great shots, Alistair and an even greater evening as I can confirm having been there. Great poetry, great music, great ambiance, great food, great friends. Should have been called "An Evening of Great Things" but then you always were a modest sort.

Alistair Scott said...

Thanks John. Glad you enjoyed it. We certainly enjoyed putting it on. And the venue was wonderful.