Sunday, 29 April 2012

The start of the Sheldonian series

An update to the post here.

When I was informed that I could take pictures in the Sheldonian theatre I had assumed that I was been allowed access outside the normal public access times. Never assume anything. I had said that I wanted to depict as many of the various perspectives public/private etc. I was told to come was between 10:00 am and 12:00 noon, I had assumed that because I wasn't told otherwise that my request would be granted. It wasn't told that this time was public access time! Well, because it was a public viewing time - of course I could go in, however because it was open to the public all the galleries were closed, most of the internal accesses were closed, only the very narrow staircase to the cupola was open, so my options were extremely limited and the planned shots were unlikely all to be fulfilled! I had decided to get there early, as the time inside was going to be limited! The shot left in the quadrangle between the Clarendon building to the right and the Bodleian Library to the left and a detail shot, right. The view from the cupola was one that I was looking forward to, but the windows  were locked, which limited the shots as reflection on the glass restricted the photographic opportunities.

Inside the theatre. The main door is at the performance end. The grey "carpet" leads in from this point, unfortunately the access restrictions didn't allow me to get a more balance view of the auditorium from above the door - see later. The scale of the building is seen quite well on the shot right, the couple discussing are viewing before a concert they are are sponsoring in June help "size" the building. Wren's design of the building that didn't use supporting columns in the main body of the theatre helps considerably with the acoustics and the sight lines.

Streater's ceiling painting on multiple panels was one that I wanted to try and depict, this is the best I got. I'm not totally happy with it and the detail shot of the central panel gives an impression of the quality of Charles II's court painter. I had also hoped to get a closer view of the organ (or rather the new electronic organ that was used to replace the old worn out one), but was again frustrated by the lack of access on a "public" day. This shot, right, connects the organ pipes to the celestial bodies, I hope to get closer to the organ at a later date.

Some ornamentation shots to get the feel of the place. Significant seats and interesting texts.

The chap in the centre and to his left his assistant were discussing with the management of the theatre details prior to them holding a charity concert in June. Sometime after this discussion finished I fell into conversation with them and it turns out that they will sponsor a concert with the Cape Town Opera as a fund raiser in June at this theatre. I wondered whether he had a photographer for the event and on finding that they hadn't, I volunteered. Assuming there are no complications I will join the event on the afternoon of 11th June to record the rehearsal, the subsequent champagne reception and then the evening performance. I have been told that I will have "access all areas", which means that a private function will enable me to obtain shots that were barred due to this being a "public day".

Up into the loft which had a couple of interesting features, firstly the model of the roof construction detail that Wren, with the help of Wallis, had convinced the University would provide the current unsupported roof and, secondly, access to the cupola, where I had hoped to gain some shots of the "dreaming spires". Well the windows and rain put paid to the idea of capturing the spires in any great detail, but the model of the roof construction, which seems to float below the roof supports was one that I was able to get. I used flash to help decouple the model fro the background.

A couple of shots to help give colour to the set. The first being a statue of a "player" holding masks to denote an actor and another which I took a like to due to the play of light coming through these very large windows.

To be continued

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