Photographing Richmond’s Historic Byrd Theater
Above: It was a cold, gray day in Richmond â” perfect for shooting indoors. Here’s an iPhone pic of me in front of The Byrd (photo by Brad Moore).
So, last month I’m reading USA Today (online) and I run across an article about classic old historic movie theaters (link) and I saw that one of them was in Richmond, Virginia, which was great because in just a few days I was going to be in Richmond with my seminar tour. So, I asked my assistant Lynn to contact the theater and see if there was any way I could come in the day before my seminar; set up a tripod; and take some shots of the theater while it was empty. Well, as luck would have it, the theater manager (a really cool guy named Todd Schall-Vess) was a KelbyOne subscriber and had some of my books as well, so we were all set for our afternoon shoot, and he pretty much gave us the run of the place, which was awesome.
Above: Here’s the Byrd from the very back of the theater shot with a 15mm fisheye lens on a full frame 5D Mark III. The fisheye is so wide that you’re also seeing the balcony, which is right over my head, in this shot. Click on it for a larger view.
Above: Here’s a behind-the-scenes shot. I mostly shot from the seating areas, and tried both of my lenses for each location (a 15mm fisheye, and a 16-35mm).
Above: Here’s a fisheye from the balcony.
There are not HDRs
I did shoot three exposures (one regular exposure, one 2-stops under-exposed, and one 2-stops over), and I tried doing some HDRs, including 32-bit HDRs but the problem was always the chandelier â” when the HDRs merged into a single file, the chandelier was still blown out big time, so instead I put all three images into the same file on their own separate layers (Open all three images, then go under Photoshop’s File menu, under Scripts, and choose Load Files into Stack). Then I just used Layer Masks to paint in the chandelier and ceiling from the layer that was under-exposed, and then I painted in areas that needed to be brightened from the over-exposed layer, so kind of an old-fashioned layer mask party. It takes longer, but it was much more effective than the results I was getting from regular HDRs (including trying Photomatix Pro 5).
Above: Here’s a closer view.
Above: Here’s the reverse view, from the stage looking back at the house, shot with the 16-35mm at 16mm.
Above: Another behind-the-scenes shot. Using a travel tripod and a cable release. Can’t believe we actually remembered it.
Above: Here’s a fisheye version from the same shooting position.
The theater is MUCH darker than it looks in these photos
In fact it’s so dark that Todd Schall-Vess (the theater’s manager, and a photographer himself), told us that one time a photographer was there to shoot the theater and asked Todd to turn the lights on. Todd told him, “All the lights are on.” I could see how he’d ask that â” it was incredibly dark inside, so my shots are actually brighter than the theater. When I made them look like it really did, you would swear the shots were 2-stops under-exposed.
The Byrd Rocks!
My thanks to Todd Schall-Vess for letting us takes some photos of The Byrd. Just a beautiful place, and if a three-hour long movie hadn’t been playing that night, Brad and I would have been there that night to take in a show â” it’s a perfect place for it, and one of just a handful left like it anywhere in the country, and I feel very fortunate to have had the opportunity.
OK, I’ve gotta hit the sack â” big day today here in Vegas and a long flight home.
Hope you have a Tuesday packed with all the wholesome goodness of 100% whole grain. ;-)