|Slim Chance and the Gamblers|
I am relieved to report that I have finally finished editing the photographs from the Special Olympics Dance that was successfully held at the Keene New Hampshire Country Club a few weeks ago. With events such as the dance, but most significantly through the crazy Penguin Plunge held every February, our community has always been an enthusiastic supporter of the Special Olympics. Peter Simon a photographer famous for his pictures of Martha's Vineyard and of pop music culture over the last decades was scheduled to photograph the event, but Peter was unexpectedly laid up and I was asked to fill in at the last minute. If I am to be roped into this kind of work, I prefer to be the last minute desperate alternative because expectations are inevitably quite low. What can they reasonably expect, there wasn't a tree in sight. Actually I enjoyed the assignment and learned quite a bit. I had to be at the dance anyway and the job gave me an excuse to avoid all but a token amount of dancing.
Fortunately the band, Slim Chance and the Gamblers, was great and, with the dance floor packed all night, few people noticed me lurking around. The band was not only crazy talented but also very animated and energetic.
My plan was to try to shoot with natural light. I was acutely aware of how frequent blinding flash explosions could distract both the performers and the audience. The problem was that the stage light was extremely low and composed of red spots on one side and blue on the other. In order to stop any action I had to shoot wide open with my f1.8 portrait lens and with ISOs in the 3200-6400 range. Color balance was impossible with opposing red and blue color on every face. At post all I could do was balance for the predominant color and let the other side go crazy. To speed processing I ended up saving red and blue adjustment profiles to apply as required although I still needed to do considerable individual adjustment on each image. Conversion to B&W is another option which I am considering for some of the images. Half way through the second set I finally gave up and started using flash. I wasn't sure how much I would be able to salvage from the natural light images and I wanted to make sure that I had something to fall back on. I used a full CTO gel to balance with some of the ambient light and shot only bounce off the nice clean ceiling. The results were reasonable without too many annoyed glances from the band. The flash images don't have the colorful flavor of the ambient light but they are much sharper. All together I think we ended up with a good range of images from which to choose.
All in all the dance was a great success. Everyone had a good time and we had the opportunity to remind the community about the importance of the Special Olympics. Now I have to get geared up for the Penguin Plunge. At least that will be held in daylight.