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3.6. Theater Performances

Capturing stage performances is difficult even for professional photographers. What makes theater lighting tricky is that the bright main light on the actors is often right in the same frame with a subdued or even darkened background. If you photograph this composition "as is" in automatic mode, then the camera calibrates the exposure, brightening up the image enough to display the dominant dim background. As a result, the spotlighted actors turn into white-hot, irradiated ghosts.

Your built-in flash is useless under these conditions (unless you climb right up onto the stage beside the actors, which is generally frowned upon by the management). The typical range for the camera's flash is about ten feet, after which it's about as useful as a snow-cone machine in Alaska. Turn your flash off at theater performances—because it's annoying to the rest of the audience, because it's worthless, and because it's usually forbidden.


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