Stage Photography

Miss Palace Princess Pageant

On Saturday 27 July 2013 I did some photography at the Miss Palace Princess Pageant held at the Klerksdorp Recreation Centre. It is always fun doing photography at a beauty pageant and this one was no exception. The pageant, hosted by B-EliteModels (B-EliteModel Facebook Page), was very well organized and the stage beautifully set up. The pageant, besides having categories for the youngest models from ages 3 and up, also had categories for beginner models. I was very happy to see this for a change as this gave those young ladies who wanted to take part but did not have any formal training also a chance without having to compete against more experienced pageant models.

By the end of the day I had 1573 photos that needed to go online and I was very happy with what I got. The photos will be made available in my online shop (green button at top of this site) until 1 November 2013.

You can also follow this link to the complete album of photos from the pageant: Miss Palace Princess Pageant Photo Album

Below is a random selection of some of the photos from the pageant.

Please note: These photos are copyright and may NOT be used anywhere else whether printed or in online media which includes social media sites.

Steve Hofmeyr Fan Photos

On 24 May 2013 Steve Hofmeyr performed in the Klerksdorp City Theatre. Many fans have asked me in the past to photograph them after the show during the signing of CD’s, Posters and other memorabilia and on this occasion I made a point of concentrating on the fans instead of just the show.

I have created an online album from which the fans who were photographed can order copies of the photos as digital download, print in various sizes or even canvas. This album will be available until 31 August 2013 after which it will be deleted to make room for new event albums. If you were photographed by me at the the event, find your photo at the link below or by clicking the “Shop” link at the top of the page.


Order Steve Hofmeyr Fan Photos Online

Steve Hofmeyr Show Klerksdorp 24 May 2013

Juanita du Plessis in Klerksdorp

On 11 April 2013 I did photography at the show of Juanita du Plessis in the Klerksdorp City Theatre. The theatre was very full and the performance by Juanita du Plessis was outstanding. The lighting by he crew was also really good and in the end I did not even need the two flash units I had set up to the sides of the stage. Here are a couple of the photos I shot for the everning. More photos of Juanita du Plessis show can be found on my Facebook Page

Miss Matlosana 2012 Pageant

On 10 March 2012 I was contracted to do photography at the annual Miss Matlosana 2012 pageant held at Rio Casino in Klerksdorp. The event was organised by Talent Africa with proceeds going to Cancer Research in South Africa in remembrance of the late Joubert Barnard of the Your City Newspaper. The event was held in The Barnyard Theatre at Rio Casino.

The Barnyard theatre is high ceilinged theatre with high stage lighting which is mostly set up for lighting the stage, not ramps where the contestants would be walking. The front T-section of the ramp had more back lighting than front which, from a photography point of view, would require fill flash to light up the contestants properly. Since I did not really want to use on camera flash since it would cast nasty background shadows, I opted for twin flashes on high stands on either sides of the judges. The flashes were set to 1/4 power which would be enough to light up the contestants at f/4, ISO400 with a shutter speed of 1/80-1/125 without filling up the ambient light. At the back of the stage the lighting was still poor and reaching that far with the flashes meant killing the ambient light, so I pretty much avoided long range shots.

There were four categories with age groups ranging from 5-7, 8-12, 13-15 and 16+. When you are a spectator at such a pageant it seems as if things flow along at a fairly slow pace, but when you are there to do photography time seems to speed up. You know you need to get a number of great shots for the contestants and the parents and the pressure is high. Getting good photos which are in focus with no blur and correctly lit and exposed becomes a challenge with the constant motion of the contestants. If you have done photography at such an event where the lighting is very subdued you will understand how hard this becomes! It seems at times as if the contestants rush onto the ramp and rush off and you always wonder if you got enough shots.

Even with a shutter speed of 1/80 there is so much “slow” light which may be caused by strong back lighting that blurring on the edges of you subject is inevitable on some shots. “Slow” light is light which is equivalent to or stronger than the light produced by your flashes. When you have slow light motion at a slower shutter speeds (slower than 1/160) tends to add a blurring on the edges of your subjects. Since the object was to get some ambient light into the scenes the shutter speed could not be raised too high as the backgrounds would fade to black. The alternative of using the flash on the camera is unappealing as this would effectively destroy the ambient light and light up ugly backgrounds and cause strange harsh shadows in the far background.

Since the contestants are in virtual constant motion you need to keep an eye on background for “slow” lighting caused by stage lights and know where your flashe “sweet spots” are (points on the ramp or stage where your flashes fill up the light without having to compete with other light sources) and time your shots accordingly. Even with hair and dresses flowing I managed to catch great shots by timing the shots to fall within the flash sweet spots. If you are are a photographer planning on doing a ramp shoot with subdued ambient lighting then it is strongly advised you practice this with a photographer who has done it before so you can learn how the contestants move and what settings work best for your camera model. It is also advised that you use a “fast” lens.

Using an on-camera flash is an option, but this kind of photography can be done by anyone with a newer generation dSLR camera, and really flattens the look and adds harsh background shadows. Invest in a set of wireless transmitters for your flash or flashes and a set of stands to put them on and a good “fast” lens and you will soon discover the joy of light and how you can capture a scene in a whole new way.

Once you learn how to combine ambient and artificial lighting (from your flash units) you discover what photography is really all about.

Equipment used:

  • Sony A55 body with Sony 28-75 f/2.8 SAM lens
  • Sony a230 body with Minolta 50mm Prime f/1.7 lens
  • 2 x GN42 flash units with remote flash triggers

Live on Stage – Nicholis Louw

Nicholis Louw

Last night, 29 February 2012, Maritza and I had the privilege to do photography at the live stage performance of Nicholis Louw at the Klerksdorp City Theatre. The show was opened by Megan Pereira, a young lady you should look out for in future! The show was great as can be expected by one of South Africa’s top Afrikaans artists. Nicholis sang most of his popular songs and threw in a couple of surprises as well, such as his rendition of the Gummy Bears theme song, which entertained the adults more than the crowd of young ones he had called forward to sit in front of the stage. Nicholis is a very energetic performer on stage and keeping up with him is hard work, from a photographers perspective. Nicholis has an amazing on stage personality and his audience interaction during songs and during pauses between songs really keeps everyone entertained.

Megan Pereira

Photography, as with any stage performance, was a challenge. The light setup was different from most other stage performances I have covered in the past. The lighting was set up close to the artist and only about shoulder height. Though this looks great for the audience it presents a photographer with rapidly varying lighting requiring virtually constant adjustment in camera. Since both Maritza, my second photographer, and I shoot in full manual we had to keep our finger rolling through settings all through the show. Any kind of automatic mode gives unpredictable results in stage photography. Aperture mode cannot keep up with the constant changes in lighting and Shutter mode usually bumps the aperture wide open, which is not desirable in all cases and makes focusing very difficult. I shot the performance using my Sony A55 and 28-75mm f/2.8 lens. Maritza used the Sony a230 and a Minolta 50mm Prime f/1.7 lens.

Nicholis Louw

Nicholis Louw

Stage photography is tricky at the best of times, and a fast lens is a must. For manual settings on the A55 I use f/4 on the 28-75mm lens with an ISO of 200-400 and shutter speed of 100-160 depending on how much light comes in. The noise on the A55, even at ISO 800 is very little so I can push the shutter speed up even further if need be. The odd thing with stage lighting, especially the modern moving lights, is that they can cause blurring on edges irrespective of shutter speed. I have shots taken at much higher shutter speeds that still show blurring where moving lights crossed the image. Many of these newer moving lights introduce another element of motion you need to contend with. The best advice I can give is to learn the motions of your artist. If you carefully watch them for a while you quickly notice patterns and you learn to anticipate pauses in their motion which is where you want to snap your shots. You also need to learn to pre-focus and wait for shots within your planned focus area. Often these don’t come through and you have to refocus for a new setup, but this is worth it when you start seeing results. The other problem is that you may get hundreds of great shots which are in focus, but then the lips, position of the head or other element may not fit into the image to make it a good photo. There are some photos I choose to publish which aren’t even perfectly in focus, but the composition makes up for the loss (but obviously the focus needs to be acceptable!).

More photos from the show can be found in the Facebook Album