I am, or at least am trying to be, a theatre lighting and set designer. In order to be successful at this, I need to put together a good portfolio of my work, and to do this I need good photographs of my work. Theatre companies (at least, competent theatre companies) normally hire someone with good skills and equipment to take publicity photographs, but that doesn’t entirely cover my needs because such photographers are shooting to show off the actors, not my work specifically, so things that I was proud of and that were integral to the whole of the design weren’t shown at all. I used to own* a cheap point-and-shoot digital camera that I’d try to use to cover these flaws, but that didn’t work so well, because that cheap little camera either underexposed the photographs badly or else left the shutter open so long that the actors were blurred too badly to be useful. Only in extremely bright scenes did that little camera successfully get me shots that were useful, and even then it complained to me that things were underexposed. Obviously, using a flash entirely ruins the shot, because I’m very interested in recording what the stage lights are doing at the time. I know it’s possible to get good photographs under these circumstances because these semi-professional photographers with good camera equipment are doing it-- I want to know what I need to look for in a camera to get reasonable photographs myself.
What I’ve been able to understand is that the little point-and-shoot digital camera didn’t collect light quickly enough, and so it either tried to leave the shutter open longer, creating blurred photographs, or it closed the shutter quickly and the photographs were underexposed. I know that you can, in theory, adjust the aperture size to compensate, but either that little camera didn’t have the ability to do so or I just couldn’t figure it out. I also seem to get that buying a nice lens helps alleviate this problem because it allows more light to be gathered, so you don’t need a long exposure to get enough light for the shot.
So in summary, I need to be able to take relatively unblurred photographs of moving (not quickly moving, but still moving) people under stage lights. What do I need in terms of a camera and a lens to be able to do this? Thanks in advance!
*Stolen this summer, in an unrelated event.