At the Movies

The stars may have finally come together for my next project.  The 3-d movie,  Monsters vs. Aliens, is playing in New York – and I plan to take my infrared outfit into the theater today and see what I can do ( a la Weegee).  I don’t expect to be able to recreate his famous shot – that would be too great – but hopefully I’ll be able to get a seat in the front row  and during the show get enough distance between me and the audience to take some infrared digital shots with my infrared flash.

It’s complicated – technically – because you really want to have the camera fairly far from the first seats in the frame so that the difference in flash exposure isn’t too much from the nearest to the furthest objects (uhm make that people with 3-d glasses).  Also, since I don’t exactly have permission to stand in the front and take pictures of the audience – that adds a bit of a handicap to the project.  I’ve already decided to use the 30mm lens, since the infrared flash won’t cover the wider 20mm.

So I sit for a while with the flash and try and figure out what f-stop I want to try for so that I can get the best depth of field, but still get enough flash to illuminate the audience, and also not blow out the people who are nearest the flash and if possible, be able to recycle the flash quickly to take as many shots as I can once I stand up in a corner.  Of course, if I had permission to do this – it would be easy, and I could do a bit of trial and error and get it pretty quickly – but this will have to be surreptitious.

Throw in one more factor – I don’t exactly get up out of my chair like lightning right now because my back is still sore — and you’ve got a nifty little project.

On top of all that – even if everything goes right – it will still only be a copy of a great idea.  On the other hand – you never know.  Many times I’ve gone out to catch the white whale and returned with an unknown fish which is equally interesting in it’s own right.  And one advantage I have is the instant feedback of the digital camera, though I’ll have that turned off while I’m shooting so as not to throw more attention to myself.  I will also dress in black, or in as much black as I can find in the dresser.  I actually have a black turtleneck which is perfect, and black jeans and black shoes and black hair.  (No black paint for the face though).

Two good choices, a multiplex nearby.  I’ll start with that theater since I know it – and shot there two years ago with infrared film.  It’s small, and I can easily cover most of either side but I’ll also be conspicuous.  And then later, maybe tomorrow, seeing how that goes, there’s a larger IMAX theater on the West Side (where I don’t know the layout) to try.  Sounds like a heist as I write this out.

I was waiting for the weekend, figuring that the theater would be most crowded on a Saturday – and the two sets of flash batteries are in the charger.  And if all else fails, perhaps I’ll enjoy the movie, though that’s pretty low on my agenda.

P.S. A bit of research and I find that the IMAX 3-D glasses are based on polarizers, and are clear – not like the typical red / blue 3-d glasses.  However, I think the non-Imax 3D movies are still red / blue, or red / cyan.  Something like that.  There are also electronic LCD glasses which I think open and close very quickly, synced to the projector.


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My name is Dave Beckerman. I am a fine art photographer working in New York City.

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