Acting And Re-enacting – Part One – The Day Out

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I have recently¬†considered the business of actors and re-enactors – as recently as last week, when I enjoyed a day on the grounds of Government House. In costume. No, I wasn’t playing Queen Victoria – I was just an itinerant photographer. I accompanied 7 others dressed in clothing reminiscent of the period of time in which the building was relevant. The general public was allowed in for free to stroll and gawk in areas normally forbidden them.

Were we re-enactors? Not really. We were visual props, as were several veteran motor cars, a section of the Army pipe band, and a complete Salvation Army band. I ‘ll bet none of us were paid for attendance and I know that at least one of me wasn’t fed or watered either, but I didn’t mind – I gathered $ 100 worth of commercial blog material that will pay off eventually.

Were we actors? Hard to tell – no script, no parts, no direction other than the internal orders of the day within the Great War society. Did we have an audience? Did we entertain them?

More to the point, did they entertain us? I can say yes to this – the crowd had very few wallys in it and the ones that did pipe up were pretty tame. Perhaps the venue dictated the manners. If so, I will be going again next year. I had a lovely time. I thought the hanging went off very well, and even if my shoes were painful at the end of the day it was worth it.

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But there are other questions…and other rules to follow. Follow on …

The Zeppelin Has Landed – The Steampunk Ball

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The use of the term “punk” has never appealed to me. From the 1950’s – when it denoted a puerile pest – to the 1970’s – when it denoted a puerile pest with a safety pin – it has always seemed to be a sleazy word. I am quite surprised to see it attached to a delightful theatrical show – the Steampunk hobby.

I suppose it might also be classified as a movement or a genre or a trend. I hardly know what these mean anymore, and I suspect that few others do either. Be that as it may. I must say I enjoyed my first foray into the Steampunk world last Friday night.

It was held at the Government House ballroom here in Perth. A public venue, but a regal one, and perfect for the event. They had dancing and music on the main floor and supper and merchant’s stalls on the lower floor. Food was simple and drink affordable – and the organisers were very wise in their provision of free coffee and tea to all.

Let’s face it, the main event was the participants and their costuming. As you’ll see from the accompanying images they really did put a very great deal of effort into this – and the hobby seems to be one that has enough elasticity in it to permit varying levels of expertise. My own outfit was my classic general-purpose Victorian gentleman’s dress – plain and simple. I did not add extra brass embellishments or dark spectacles. Not that they would have looked out of place – quite the opposite – but I needed to move discretely with my Hudson Detective camera to get the shots.

The Hudson Detective was initially set to 400 ISO but this did not cut it in the ballroom and was upped to 2000 ISO. The camera ran in the aperture -priority mode at about f:2.8 for the last half of the evening and this seemed to do quite well. I expect that if it gets used in the daytime it will do even better. If some of the exposures were blurred, I can only say that the real detective cameras of the 1880’s would have done so too. No flash was used, and the white balance was just left to automatic – it had to cope with several different colour temperatures. In the end I steeled myself to the fact that a lot of the images would be massaged in Alien Skin Exposure ¬†and they were purporting to be 1880 exposures and it was dark and I had two glasses of wine and…Actually I am pleased with the result, but not so complacent as to stick with it.

Next venture will see a different rig-out – a studio set-up with Electrostatic Discharge Illuminators ( read Nikon SB 700 speed lights ) and a suitably-housed Nikon D300. I already have the perfect tripod and flash holder all ready, and the extra illumination will make all the difference.

For now, here are a few of the very good-looking people of the Steampunk scene. I handed out small contact cards directing them to this blog, and hope that they will pursue it out of curiousity. If they do, I have a direct message to them:

Friends, you were magnificent. I have made a complete CD of images and I would be delighted to send it to you free of charge. Please email me at:

rstein@bigpond.net.au

and I will post you a copy. You will be free to use the images of yourself on Facebook or Twitter, though I ask you to contact me for permission if it goes to a commercial publication. Fair do – let us be polite to one another. If you would like to do a dedicated Steampunk shoot at my studio – and I hope you will- I can be contacted on the email or on the Western Australian number of 08 9310-1038 after hours. I would looooove to take some real portraits in Steamstyle with my Linhof 4 x 5 camera – I am one of the last large format practitioners and have been doing historical portraiture for decades.

Did I take a selfie? No. Damn. I’ll remember next time.

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