Shooting Your Favorites
Take your little camera to the movie theater and see if you can stop the flickering image of your favorite star. It's really quite easy when you catch on.
SNAPPING candid shots in movie theaters is rapidly becoming the latest craze of novelty-seeking camera addicts. Cinema houses in New York, Detroit, and dozens of other cities have recently inaugurated “Candid Camera Nites,” when amateurs can bring their cameras along and shoot away at the silver screen to their hearts’ content.
Theater managers are hoping these candid nights may be the successor to bank nights, which the courts have outlawed in many states, and have already begun to give worthwhile prizes for the best photographs. They are usually held on Mondays, when movie attendance is ordinarily rather light, although some photographers just take their cameras along as a matter of course whenever they attend a theater.
If you are interested in getting in on this new game, the technique is surprisingly simple. Here’s the way to go about it.
When you go into the theater, you should select a seat directly in front of the screen and about a third of the way back, so that the screen will just fill your view-finder. If the camera is too close, the image becomes distorted, and if you are too far back, the image will be small.
Your camera lens should be kept open at its largest aperture. About the smallest stop that can be used successfully is ƒ 4.5. Faster lenses can be used to advantage, but they are not necessary. The shutter speed depends upon the stop opening and the amount of light on the screen at the time of exposure. Shutter speeds as low as 1/20 second can be used, but if you have a bulb set on the shutter and are able to catch moments on the screen when there is relatively little motion, irregular exposures will give the best results. After a little practice," you can learn to expose until you see a slight movement on the screen, and then close the shutter.
The film in the theater is projected at the rate of 24 pictures per second. Since the projector has a twobladed shutter, each picture is flashed on the screen twice. Thus there are actually 48 individual pictures per second.
When this shutter on the projector interrupts the light beam, there is an interval of darkness. Due to this fact, a high shutter speed should be avoided, because you might happen to photograph one of the dark intervals.
You will find that a supersensative Panchromatic film is good to use. If you own a camera taking a 35 mm. film, Super X Panchromatic is best.
After you have your camera set up and everything ready, sit back and wait for a break in the action on the screen. Whenever you see a scene that strikes your fancy, shoot. Occasionally you may guess wrong, and another scene will flash on the screen before you close the shutter. One fan who didn’t pay close enough attention once was embarrassed to find when he developed his film that he had Haile Selassie mixed up in an Italian airport! But you will soon learn when to expect a natural pause in the action.
In general, fast dances, fights, and mob scenes are almost impossible to photograph. Musical comedies are about the easiest. Singers are usually very still when holding a long note or waiting to be kissed. In a singing number it is best to wait until near the end before shooting.
When a beautiful natural scene is to be photographed, the exposure should be made as soon as possible. On the screen, shadows and highlights do not show the contrast they will when rephotographed. Minor subjects, which are lighted less than the object of primary interest, are often completely swallowed up by shadows, while the main subject appears correctly lighted.
Sometimes it is necessary or desirable to make pictures without a tripod. By using a strap around your arm and bracing your head against the back of the seat before bringing the camera up to eye level, it is possible to get fairly good results. The picture of Grace Moore was shot without a tripod.
After a few trials, you’ll find that it isn’t difficult to make good pictures. UnTess you go to a theater that advertises candid nights, however, it is best to get the permission of the manager before you start shooting. He will usually have no objection, although there are a few films distributed with the condition that they are not to be copied.