Capturing Drama In The Big Top

Much of my photographic portfolio is focused on historic landmarks and landscape stories but not all. For this image I took a break, capturing drama in the Big Top. Taking good photographs of moving people, in a dark and dusty circus tent is a real challenge but when you pull it off the results can be dramatic and wonderful.

Capturing drama in the Big Top — Acrobuffos at the Big Apple Circus

Seth Bloom and Christina Gelsone are Acrobuffos, a talented performance duo that travels the world delighting audiences with their comedic acrobatic antics. In this image, you see Acrobuffos at the Big Apple Circus when it visited Washington DC a while ago. In this image, they were performing as Madame and Monsieur, a ‘fast-paced, non-verbal mask comedy’ in a tradition of comedy that goes back centuries. As you can see the lighting was very dim and the air was full of dust and dry-ice fog. Despite the conditions, resting hands on the empty seat in front of me (l didn’t have a tripod) I was able to keep the camera steady enough to get a slightly grainy but decent set of images. I love the expression on the audience captured in this moment of time.

Photographic Details

The final image is a two exposure HDR composite taken with Pentax K-r. At the time I shot triple hand-held exposures but found that the longest exposure on each of the sets were too blurry to use. Selecting just the -2 and O exposure I was able to build the base image in Photomatix. I then finished the image in Adobe Lightroom. I later posted the image to the Acrobuffos Facebook page and was really pleased when Christina emailed me to say thanks for the picture and that it was one of her favorite images of the act. They are a great act if you see they are performing near you go and see if you can capture the magic of the big top.

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