One of the big challenges for any professional photographer has to be the unknown and the unexpected and last night was certainly one of those.
I offered to take photos at the Question Time event staged by my good friend Dawn Ray from Best of Newbury and I knew Nigel Morgan from Morgan PR was going to be tweeting the session live on Twitter the social media network.
Five minutes before I left, Nigel rang me and suggested I bring my laptop so that he could tweet pictures as I took them, so dashing out of the door I grabbed what I thought I’d need.
Not knowing if the venue had wi-fi available I planned to shoot using a DSLR and upload to the computer, do a quick tweak and resize them and pass them on a USB stick to Nigel so that he could integrate them as the questions were answered.
What I hadn’t expected was that the venue had set up a stage in a drama studio with thick black curtains as a backdrop and incredibly high black painted ceiling, and very low lighting levels.
I immediately realised my chances of using available light were nil and with nothing to bounce flash off I had no alternative but to use flash directed straight at the speakers and any hope of including the audience would be even more of a challenge with the dark surroundings acting like a massive sponge, mopping up the light. Although not a new situation for me, I spent years of my youth crawling around potholes and caves and of course working in darkrooms, these sort of challenges make you think on your feet.
With the male members of the panel being traditionally dressed in dark suits achieving definition between them and the background was essential if disembodied heads were to be avoided.
Add to this the large bottles of water sitting on the desk in front of the panellists just waiting to reflect back at me every bit of light I threw at them I was not optimistic about the outcome of the evening.
But with some careful balancing of apertures and shutter speeds to make the most of any light there was and some gentle manipulation in Photoshop, I achieved my goal.