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Ohlala 23 - Bubble Gum

Updated: Oct 28, 2023

My first visit to Ohlala since 2014. I got to shoot at the opening performance on 19th Oct and then again at the Gala Premiere on 25th Oct. A very entertaining show, with great performances. It felt considerably more refined than the shows I attended between 2011-2014 and I would thoroughly recommend it to anyone (over 16) who enjoys watching talented acrobats & performing artists and is OK with a bit more being exposed on stage than you would find at a regular big top performance.

From a photography perspective it presented the typical fast moving, low light challenges of many stage performances that I have shot over the last 15 years. Space to move around was very limited, so I was more or less restricted to the one shooting position each night, which proved great for acts at stage level, but not ideal for the areal performances. I chose to shoot with a 50mm lens on the first night (supplemented with a 105mm) and then to road-test my new 135mm (Plena) lens on my second visit.

One of my favourite shots (above), not recommended for the bathroom at home, was taken on the first night, with no knowledge (only a bit of intuition) that the hair flick was coming. It was taken as a single shot (no auto-burst) and I was pretty lucky to get the water trail just about perfect. In hindsight - it would have been great to get the singer in the background framed by the water trail - but I'm happy with it. On the second performance, I tried to position myself better for the shot (knowing it was coming) and set up for an auto-burst at 20fps. The shot was OK, better framed but the water trail not as impressive as the first night, and the full water trail was only present on 2 of the shots - confirming that my timing on the first night was either really good, or really lucky.

The aerial acts were great to watch as a spectator, but not so easy to get good shots, positioned from below. I did manage a few that I'm happy with, the shot below being my favourite.

One really impressive act was a hoop-spinning act. Shots taken at shutter speeds that froze the subject on the first night were OK, but to me didn't give a good impression of the movement - so on the second night I had a play with motion blur, the results are shown below. To get the desired effect I needed to choose moments when the performer was relatively static (to remain sharpish), whilst blurring the spinning hoops. Fortunately, that wasn't too difficult.

First night, no motion blur... ok shot - but missing something...

Second night, a bit of motion blur..., better.

Second night, lots of motion blur... happy 🙂

All in all, there was something on display there for everyone, be that chiseled 6-packs, comedy moments, great songs, dancing, acrobatics,...

If you have a spare evening before 19th Nov - I recommend Ohlala Bubble gum as a fun and thoroughly entertaining night out.

As for the new Plena lens ? - I really like it and can't wait to try out in a more suited environment where the creamy out of focus areas (bokeh) will really shine through.

For all of the photos - visit my online gallery

Enjoy the photos! 🙂

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