Tuesday, July 28, 2009

That's entertainment

or, Adventures in Event Photography

It was my distinct privilege recently to be present at, and to be photographing, the first independent performance by the Bridge City Bombshells, Pittsburgh's newest burlesque troupe.

Elizabeth Couteau and Phat Man Dee
Their style is a delightful mixture of classical and modern burlesque; in their own words, "anything but ordinary." Friday's performance was jazz-themed, featuring the vocal stylings of Phat Man Dee as well as some classic recorded tracks like "I Put a Spell on You."

Elizabeth Couteau, Miss Hush, The Bees Knees, Kat de Lac, Shrimp Scanty, and the C*ntess von Tella (sorry about the asterisk, dear, but this is a family blog) each bring their own style and flavor to every number. The show featured a classic fan dance, some great character pieces including a petulant Shrimp Scanty dancing to Phat Man Dee's interpretation of "A Tisket a Tasket," and my favorite, a literally edgy interpretation of the balloon dance. The balloons already add a percussive element to your traditional striptease, but what if instead of that silly hatpin, you popped the balloons with an eight inch dagger?

ISO1600, 1/30, f/4, second curtain flash
And what if the balloons were filled with stage blood? Well then you'd be Tella. Stay out of the splash zone, kids.

Anyhow, about the photography. This was a very straightforward performers-on-a-stage kind of gig. Belvedere's is a dive, with lighting as low as the drink prices. I can't really complain, but I needed a little bit of reinforcement if I wanted sharp images of moving people. What I ended up doing was putting my SB-800 in remote mode, choosing a low power level and a pale amber gel to balance with the ambient light, and setting it on top of the PA speakers at stage right. The angle was consistent with stage lighting, so you don't look at the pictures and immediately think "flash."

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