A Shot in the Dark 17 August 2021   

MK TheatreThe final zoom meeting of the Summer Programme was yet another interesting topic that we have not had before. Mike Kwasniak ARPS showed his passion for the Theatre as he gave his chatty and informal presentation from his home in East Anglia.
Still as enthusiastic as ever after taking photographs of both professional and amateur productions after 37 years! He got into it by accident when he was asked to take some publicity photos as a favour. The images went down well and so he got involved in several theatres in the Suffolk area and he was asked to take over the publicity and supply photographs for the press and to display in theatre foyers.
In the early days this was of course using film and he was often limited to the amount of film he used and processed. Theatre lighting is very difficult for photography and in those days the camera ISO often gave rather grainy images because of the low lighting. Images were in monochrome but non the less Mike produced some of amazing images with the equipment then available.
MK 2In the early 2000’s came the breakthrough with digital – although basic at first they have improved immensely and now Mike can use very high ISO’s to give superb results in the dimmest of conditions.
Mike explained that he takes his images at the final dress rehearsal before a production opens and he has to get the images approved and ready for the publicity often by the next day. His lively talk was full of stories about what can happen when the auditorium is in darkness and he has to move about as best he can to get in a good position.
Mike has to capture the key moments of the production using both close-ups of the cast and also shots of the whole stage. Using flash is a completely prohibited so the camera has to cope with all the changes of lighting. Mike says ‘know your camera – it is a tool - keep it to your eye at all times or you will miss the action’.
Most of us will not have the chance to get up close or move around during a theatre production but the same principles apply to taking any action photos. Maybe wildlife, sport, music events, street theatre or re-enactments etc. Mikes advice is – be patient, try to anticipate what might happen and wait for the moment.PM 

David Wilkinson thanked Mike for sharing his enthusiasm and passion for theatre photography.
Many thanks to Frank Collins for arranging such a diversity of photographic subjects for club members to enjoy during the summer break. Thanks also to Dave Eagle for all the work he has done setting up all the technical side of the zoom meetings.