Once a year, there's a weekend where something other than sleep takes over. This year we spent the weekend, early in the year, in Pretenderos.
A weekend of stories and songs and dances. Love, loss, romance and battles. Wizards and elves and shadow children and butchers with tiny hands.
Creativity and art and emotion.
It's such an honour to stay up all weekend with these people.
I give you the crazy, amazing, talented cast of the London Improvathon 2017.
All shot on the glorious new Fuji xt2 - with the 50-140mm, a lens that didn't miss a focus all weekend!!
Firstly, I have to state that this was not a month of normal camera use. This was a total baptism of fire. In the last month I have shot over 300gb of images!!
Secondly, I should state that I don't normally write reviews. I have, however, been so amazed by the images I have got out of this camera that I wanted to make note of them.
Promises, Promises - production shots.
This was the first show I've ever shot without the old-faithful canon 5dmk2 at least present. Just Fuji, how would it cope? how fast is it really? What's it like in contrast-y, colourful theatre lighting? In short, it was a delight.
Shooting almost exclusively with the 50-140mm f2.8 (I had a sneaky 27mm on my spare xt-10) I skipped round the stage perimeter not even noticing the camera in my hand. That brings me to point 1.... I'm not a weedy little girl, but the 5dmk2 with 70-200mm f2.8 slapped on the front is a weight-training exercise in itself. Shooting a full show with the Fuji kit is a dream in comparison. My arm no longer falling off at the end of act two.
Hadn't yet sorted out new RAW processing options so these are edited from the jpegs. Quite frankly, every exposure was perfect just needed a tiny bit of colour correction.
London Jam & the Improvathon.
8 individual shows across 4 evenings followed by 50hrs of continuous improv theatre.
From beautifully placed delicate Ibsen & Austen to fast moving fight scenes of Dungeons & Dragons and massed Irish dancing. Shot entirely with the 50-140 I have to say that the lens didn't miss a single shot!!
These are edited from the RAWs on photoshop cc. Loving how much extra is in the RAW files, even though the jpegs are pretty wonderful straight out of camera.
Portraits with Evie & Sarah-Jane.
These are the photos we take completely for fun, I was also desperate to shoot some portraits on the new camera. And it really didn't let me down, I hooked it up to the cactus triggers and my canon speedlights and we created ourselves a makeshift studio.
The one thing I'm going to have to learn is how to better retouch images because this camera is so detailed that it's unforgiving. I guess that's not a bad problem to have. :-)
There will be a blog of more of these images but just a couple for now.
Just some wandering round in the chilly mist.
All with my beloved 35mm f1.4 - mostly at f1.4 (is there any other f stop?!). All edited from the RAWs.
I adore this camera, but then I adored the xt-10. What's special about this one? The extra bit of body size makes for a better balance with the larger lenses, it fits really well in my hand. I bought the battery grip but I haven't experimented with it yet because, quite frankly, I don't own enough spare batteries to make it worthwhile! I liked the grip with the xt-1 so I'm sure it'll be just as good this time.
I love the layout of the dials, having the iso so accessible is really useful. I also find myself altering the exposure compensation without even looking at it, just to "correct" to exposure when shooting aperture priority (how I shot the street scenes), it's already become the way I like to shoot.
I find the menus a little complicated, a few things weren't quite where I expected them, but then there's a hell of a lot to go through and I'm sure if I read the manual it would be quite simple!!
I have found the joystick a little hard to find, but I think that's just a change from using the 4 buttons on the xt-10. The extra choosable focus points are just brilliant.
The purchase of this camera and new lens is pretty much the complete crossover to being a fuji-shooter for everything I choose to photograph. The canon is no longer my camera of choice - even though it's still a lovely camera. It's just there's something about the fuji x system that makes me want to shoot more, and I adore the images from it.
….there's a crazy little show by the name of Saucy Jack and The Space Vixens - this year it's 20yrs old, a fact which dates me as I saw it "way back when…" and it's definitely not child-friendly!!
Anyway, last friday I popped by the Kings Head Theatre in Islington to make some images of this fabulous 20th anniversary cast, on the eve of their closing night.
These were grabbed in the stairwell as people ran past prepping for the show, with just a silver reflector as a suitably spacey backdrop, the light from the window - I could make a ridiculously geeky reference to another cult show at this point but no…. - a couple of shutter presses for each character and nothing more.
So, with no further ado, I give you Saucy Jack and The Space Vixens.
These lovely people are....
Zoe Nicholls, Jamie Birkett, Lorna Clare Hall
Ashton Charge, Hugh Stubbins, Sophie Cordwell Jones
Caspar Cordwell Jones, Tom Whalley & Kristopher Bosch.
All Fuji and Snapseed. Sometimes photos need to be a little more mobile.
Photographing Toxic Avenger at Southwark Playhouse has been some of the most fun I've had in a very long while. This show is bonkers... in the same vein as Rocky Horror and Little Shop of Horrors, both of which I love.
The music by Joe DiPietro and David Bryan is funny, touching and at times just plain silly and this exceptional cast of 5 raise the roof every night.
It's only running til saturday night, I wish Toxie was staying a bit longer.
The producers for this European premiere are Katy Lipson for Aria Entertainment, Guy James and Szpiezak Productions.
Toxic Avenger is directed by Benji Sperring with musical direction by Alex Beetschen and choreography by Lucie Pankhurst. This totally gorgeous design is courtesy of Nic Farman and Mike Lees.
And last, but most definitely not least, the cast is Mark Anderson, Hannah Grover, Lizzii Hills, Marc Pickering and Ashley Samuels.
There's not much that needs to be said about these images, beyond that we had so much fun seeing how many crazy different looks we could create in one afternoon. Evie and Sarah-Jane created something gorgeous for me to photograph and we laughed lots..... "i look so totally pinterest"
Just a few shots of my friend Martin, for the sole sake of making photos. All on fuji & 35mm f1.4. Mucking around a bit with the cactus flash triggers as well.
It was kind of all about symmetry yesterday, my brain was scattered and the sheer activity of focusing on images made me calm down. It was playing into my need for balance though.
New year = newJamie. x
Fuji xt10 - 35mm f1.4 - no flash - silly high iso.
Here follows a slight diversion from my usual style of blog-post, this one will have a few more words....
In the early hours of January 25th 1996, after returning home from the final dress run of Rent at New York Theatre Workshop, Jonathan Larson collapsed and died.
Later that day, his cast and creative team gathered to sing through what was meant to be the 1st preview of Jonathan's new work - the show he had fought and struggled and wished into existence. They didn't even get to the interval before they were up on their feet and performing the show in full.
The rest, as they say, goes down in Broadway history... that production at NYTW sold out and was extended again and again and just 3 short months later the show opened at The Nederlander Theatre on Broadway where it ran for over 12years. It made stars of it's original cast and won pretty much every award going. It has played round the world, opening in London in the May of 1998...
.....and that's where I come in, I discovered Rent in October of 1998. I was new to London and didn't have many friends, so I took myself to the theatre to see a young actor I'd admired in a previous show. I was under the misapprehension that I'd probably see this show once, how wrong can one girl be?!!
Within 10minutes I was hooked, by the end of the show I had tears dripping off my face and I was on my feet cheering... this was it, this was the "thing" I needed, I felt like I had come home.
I have seen Rent 100s (I am not exagerating) of times, across 3 different continents. Every time I went to New York it was always my first evening's entertainment.
So, when my friends Katy Lipson & Guy James (two producers I've worked with many times in the last few years) decided to stage a concert in London to commemorate the 20th anniversary of Jonathan's death and to celebrate his life, there was only one place I was going to be on Monday 25th January 2016.....
Season of Larson starred (from left to right!) Damien Flood, Krysten Cummings, Noel Sullivan, Debbie Kurup & Anton Stephans, with special guest appearances from MiG Ayesa and Scarlett Silver. Directed by Grant Murphy and Gareth Bretherton it showcased Jonathan's work from the big hitters of Rent and Tick, Tick...Boom! to lesser known works that are rarely performed.
These are some of my favourite people... I met Anton 4yrs ago when we spent more time talking than taking the photo I'd been tasked to find for Children of Eden, I've known Damien & Debbie for the best part of 15yrs since they, and my best friend, toured with Rent and Krysten, well Krysten was the person who had me hooked from 10minutes into that first performance in Oct' '98, she is "my" Mimi and has performed the role around the world.
Noel was the newcomer to this bunch and I can't imagine anyone filling the shoes better, but more on that after a couple more pictures....
I could write about the whole show, but that would descend into pages and pages.... So just a few highlights...
Noel's rendition of One of These Days was masterful and should be recorded, it's a lesser-known one of Jonathan's compositions but it's instantly recognisable as his work. It's clever and funny and full of emotion, as was Noel's performance.
Hearing Debbie & Damien's version of Without You, after so long away from it, was gorgeous, I'd forgotten how much I love these two performing together.
Anton's version of I'll Cover You Reprise was a joy to behold and I'm not sure how the audience held itself together, on stage they were barely holding back the tears as well. This song is Jonathan's memorial, it says everything.
Debbie & Krysten tearing up the stage as star-crossed lovers in both Take Me Or Leave Me and Therapy was a delight and hillarious from start to finish.
And then when Krysten flung herself heart and soul into Out Tonight, the song that for me will always be hers, you couldn't have paid me to be anywhere else!!
But, oh yeah there's a but, the person who brought the house down was Damien's daughter, Scarlett, and her performance of Destination Sky, a simple song that Jonathan wrote for a children's television show.
The evening was a fitting tribute to one of the finest songwriters there is, a man who changed musical theatre in the 90s even though he never got to see it. A man who changed the lives of anyone who's ever been touched by his music and definitely the lives of this little team.
I owe huge swathes of my life to that music, if I hadn't taken that chance nearly 18yrs ago my life would be VERY different. The people I love most in this world, well they love this music as much as I do.
Thank you Jonathan Larson. Even though I never met you, you're always in my heart.
The very last note of the concert, before the audience leapt to their feet and cheered.
Hanging out with Ed in Abney Park cemetery in North London. It's been a while since we made photos together, but I wanted to try a new lens out and Ed lets me play. Also the curls and beard from 2015's job will be going sometime soon for the next project, thought we'd take some pics before everything changes again.
Half of these are canon and half are fuji, both 50mm f1.4 (or equivalent!) - not sure how I feel about that I can still see the difference, or whether anyone else cares. Mucked around with a bit of off camera flash also. It was chilly and a little damp, but nice to be taking photos.