I just really had to write about what I thought of the photos from this particular play and my experience in taking them. This play was the so far, the hardest of all the plays to photograph, for the sole reason that it was too dark.

VLF6: Huling Habilin ng Sirena

Nicco Manalo and Alex Dorola Yasuda

I was able to catch two shows and the first time, I was still fumbling around my camera’s settings (which was by then less than a week old). I did not get any good photos on that first time. Most of them are too dark to be of any use to me or to anyone else. I am surprised that the camera was still able to focus given that amount of light.

When I do post-processing, I actually just move the curves.  That is just basically what I do all the time. For this set however, I had to Despeckle too every now and then.

VLF6: Huling Habilin ng Sirena

I thought about adjusting the Brightness, but I found out that adjusting the Brightness only made the photos more glaringly red – which was painful to the eyes. In the end, I opted not to.

As much as possible, I try to take photos of each cast member. In this case though, I was very limited to the amount of light that was available.

Like this photo:

VLF6: Huling Habilin ng Sirena

In any other case, I’d discard this photo because Alex is blurred; but this is the only photo I have of Alex that clearly shows his face.

I tried to take photos of William, but most of the time, he was in the dark…

VLF6: Huling Habilin ng Sirena

…and this was the best that I could do.

VLF6: Huling Habilin ng Sirena

I did manage to take a photo that I could consider my favorite in the entire photo set and it happens to be this one:

VLF6: Huling Habilin ng Sirena

I also like the following photo…

VLF6: Huling Habilin ng Sirena

… because it makes me think of an underwear billboard ad, or something like that. Hahaha! (My husband said, “bume-Bench ba-ding” in reference to Bench Body)

I actually took a little bit more than necessary photos of the curtain call, only because it was the only time one could see the actors’ faces clearly…

VLF6: Huling Habilin ng Sirena

… and also because Ram’s expressions in the audience just makes me laugh.

VLF6: Huling Habilin ng Sirena

I wonder what they are talking about, whoever it is he is talking to. In the above photo he seems to be saying something like, “Two?”

Whenever I look at these photos, somehow, my lighting class finals comes to mind. My professor, Sir Amiel Leonardia, had given me a low grade in our finals project because he said our lighting design was too dark, that we had emphasized too much on the mood, and less on actual illumination. In class, we were taught that above all things, the purpose of one’s stage lights is to illuminate the actors. Your actors might be exceptionally good, but if your audiences cannot see the expressions on their faces, then what is the point?

I am a great admirer of Monino Duque’s lighting designs. I remember watching Repertory Philippines’ Song & Dance in Greenbelt 1 back in 2007 and just being wowed! I still think about that experience all the time. I don’t think I’ve ever seen such a clean and beautiful lighting design.

I used to evaluate lighting design on the over-all mood and effects. Like how the light fell on the actor’s faces in this particular moment, or how the color of the lights just went so well with the falling “cherry blossoms”, or how the lights just totally blew me away, as it did on Jose Estrella’s take on Federico Garcia Lorca’s The Butterfly’s Evil Spell which was staged by Dulaang U.P. as Ang Malupit na Encanto ng Mariposa back in 2003. (I remember seeing some stills of the production in Tuxqs Multiply site, but the site does not exist now).

When I started taking photos of theater performances, it became clearer to me that it is just more than the effects. Somehow, every time I have to make up my mind about how good the lighting design or technical design was for a particular play, I not only recall how I felt during the performance but I also look at the photos – and evaluate from there.

Go ahead and take a look at Monino Duque’s Tuesdays with Morrie. I was not able to personally see this play but the stills still take my breath away….

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