Canterbury Marlowe Theatre
Landscape &Travel Photography Techniques
Oct 6th 2013
The Marlowe Theatre is a fairly new building which always means new opportunities for photographs. By day it looks fine, but I always imagined a shot at twilight with all the lights on and reflections in the paving stones.
EOS 5DMKIII, f11, 1/4 sec, ISO 800.
Sounds simple, and to be honest, it wasn't technically or creatively very hard to produce once I was on location at the right time. Finding the 'right time' was much trickier. The basic ingredients for the shot are not rocket science-use dusk light, retain some colour in the sky, make the most of reflections in the stones, time it for some people walking in the shot, set correct shutter speed for some motion blur, etc etc. What made this photograph tricky was that it was only possible to produce it for about a week or two during the year...
The problem was that for reflections in the stones I needed rain, not during the shot of course, but just before. I also needed a clear sky to have the best possible colours in the midnight blue colours that appear. Add to that, I also needed a evening performance at the Marlowe Theatre timed to coincode with these natural events. So the conversation I had with myself went something like this:
'OK, that's a 'yes' to some recent rainfall please, but a 'no' to cloud cover and a 'no' to rain during the shot. Also, I'd like the lights on in the building.'
'Well, Sir, I'm afraid the lights only come on when we have an evening performance on and we don't have one on every week.'
'OK, so when do you have one on that will coincide with twilight?'
'Well, in the evenings we sometimes have a 19.30 performance.'
'Right, so I need a rainy day, that's cleared up by half seven at a time of year that coincides with when the sun also sets at 19.00 for a twilight at 19.30 when people are also filing in for the performance?'
Suddenly the chances of the shot coming together are looking less straight forward!
You can't control everything with landscape/outdoor photography and this gives you an idea of some of the variables I contend with. Of course there's a little bit of luck-after having this "planning session" with my alter ego I could work out the week that would co incided with sunset at 19.00. I got lucky that Priscilla Queen of the Desert was also on during that week in the evenings. I also got lucky that we had rain and the cloud rapidly parted from 19.00 leaving a crystal clear twilight sky.
In theory, you could do this shot at the other end of the year, in Spring when the timings coincide again but you can't be sure everything will quite come together like this ever again...