Stage photography: It’s a mistake

Schuyler Robinson rehearsed in the sanctuary of Christ Church Cathedral in Lexington, Ky., on its organ by Holtkamp Organ Company of Cleveland, Ohio. (c) Photos for the Lexington Herald-Leader.

One of the things I and a lot of golfers love about the game is the mistake that can turn out great. We’re talking about the fabled ball that  ricochets off a tree back onto the green and rolls into the hole. That kind of mistake. You misfired, you should have ended up losing a stroke or two, but instead, you scored. Big time.

A properly white-balanced image of Schuyler at the organ.

I had one of those shooting an image for the paper earlier this month. I was getting ready to leave an interview with a pair of organists who were helping organize – organists? organize?! ha! O.K. … – the Region V convention of the American Guild of Organists in Lexington. We had shot a few portraits of them around the organ at Christ Church Cathedral, and I thought that was it for our photo opportunities. But then Lexington organist extraordinaire Schuyler Robinson mentioned he needed to practice some, and I asked if he’d mind if I photographed him in action.

He said sure, so I got my D300s out with the 17-35mm lens mounted and got in close to line up a shot of Schuyler at the console with the pipes behind him. I looked at the LCD and –  Rats! – I still had the white balance in flash mode. So this unflashed image had a serious yellow-orange hue. I switched the white balance and continued shooting with a literal interpretation of the room’s colors.

It’s not a huge loss here in the digital age. The loss of that one shot on a 4MB CF card wouldn’t have mattered as much as that errant golf shot that will force you to take several other shots to compensate for it.

But when I got back to the office to edit, that shot kinda struck me. I liked the warmth and mood the lighting conveyed. So, I went ahead and turned it in along with several other properly lit images from the afternoon.

And darned if our designer, Randy, didn’t make that the lead photo on our June 12 Arts+Life section.

Usually, you take a bad shot and just hit delete. But sometimes, it’s in the hole!

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