July 10, 2008 – Performing for a private event, Ringling Bros. Barnum & Bailey Circus, AKA “The Greatest Show On Earth,” came to the Chaifetz Arena in three-ring style with the performance of “Bellobration.” The performance starred head-clown Bello Nock, who was named by Time Magazine as “America's Best Clown,” and featured a host of other attractions including acrobats, trained animals, death defying stunts, and, of course, general clown-foolery.
While most of my duties as the house photographer for the Chaifetz arena involve music acts, Ringling Bros. Barnum & Bailey Circus provided an exciting assignment. The nearly two-hour event provided no shortage of engaging subjects, with all manner of acrobats, clowns, and other acts filled up the hour and a half-long show, from the floor of the arena to the ceiling.
I photographed the event from the very edge of the floor, well outside the ring. For some of the acts that required supports, the rigging of which was positioned betwen me and the action, this position did have some limitations. However, the majority of the event was covered easily with the Nikon 70-200mm f/2.8 on the D3.
In addition to the 70-200mm, I used the Nikon 300m f/2.8, 24-70mm f/2.8 and 14-24mm f/2.8. While the 300mm obviously had superior range, the flexibility of composition with the 70-200mm won out.
Thanks to spotlights used for most of the more key acts, light levels were no problem for this event. I shot between ISO 1600 and 3200, with shutter speeds between 1/400 and 1/1000. Lighting was bright enough to keep a relatively tight aperture range of f/3.5 to f/4.
While the event as a whole was more multi-dimensional than most concerts – in the performance space and range of entertainment – most of the basics of event coverage carried over. Timing, observation of the subject, and a little luck all came into play.