Apollo Theater

Had an assignment to get the marquee of the Apollo Monday night.  It was the first little thing I took on since I got sick with the Colitis/Crohn’s syndrome again, maybe a year ago.  I planned it pretty carefully since my legs are still weak, and I didn’t want to carry any extra equipment. So it was the lightweight tripod (which I like a lot, at least as much as you can like a tripod); the DSLR (cropped) with the 10mm-20mm zoom.

The thing is, that nowadays, it’s pretty easy to just go to google images and look through hundreds of shots of the Apollo and get some feeling for what worked and what didn’t.  Best time of day (night).  Best weather (stormy but not actually raining), best angle etc. etc.

Which is what I did.  So I knew, going up there, just about exactly what I was looking for.  Over the years, I’ve had a few assignments like this, to go out and shoot something for someone that wants something special, or at least technically well done.  And I always go about it the same way.  It’s the complete opposite of street shooting, where the outside world surprises you, or tells you that this is something worth pressing a shutter to get.

These types of shots are more like designing stage scenery in your head, and then going to photograph it.

As far as angles go, I only saw (and I could be wrong about this) three basic ways to shoot the marquee.  From the left or right side on 125th, or from across 125th.  The problem there was that I wanted the vertical and the horizontal signs.  And I also knew ahead of time it would be b&w.  So it was just a question of setting up the tripod and framing, and waiting for it to get dark.

I had to wait for the persons’ name I was hired to get on the marquee to roll around; it took about 3 minutes, then flashed for two or three seconds; click click click, and wait for it to roll around again.

The Apollo Theater Harlem


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