Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Dance Photography, Westminster Arts Center

Nina Brewton

Rie Sueyoshi, Nina Brewton, Jennifer Bocian




Nina Brewton, Nahoko Sugiyama


Morgiana Celeste Varricchio

Morgiana Celeste Varricchio

Rie Sueyoshi, Jennifer Bocian

These are a few images from a set taken at the tech rehearsal of the Mosaic Dance Theater Company performing at the Westminster Arts Center in Bloomfield N.J.
Prior to the tech shoot, there were some lighting issues that the techs were trying to resolve but had not been completely ironed out during the shoot. Still, we managed to capture some fine moments of the performance.

I really enjoy photographing these dance performances. They are quite challenging due to the low lighting and movement of the dancers, but rewarding as well. Also challenging is having a large group on the stage at one time and getting the entire scene as well as isolating individuals.

When talking shop with other photogs, questions about settings and technique often come up and so here is a basic run down of how I approach this.

I used to shoot in manual mode and manual focus as I found it a bit more reliable, but lately I have been shooting in "Shutter priority" mode with auto focus while manually selecting focus points.Shutter Priority mode offers quicker flexibilty for me when it comes to changing settings.

In this performance I had the camera set to 1600 ISO. WB is set to tungsten for consistency. Using Shutter Priority mode allows me to quickly slow down or speed up the shutter release depending on what effects I wish to achieve for any given capture. Slowing down the speed of the shutter can give motion blur to hair, veils etc, while speeding it up can freeze the action. Due to the dark areas of the stage such as the black curtains I find its best to reduce the cameras exposure by about 1 stop. That would be EV -1. The black background fools the cameras meter into thinking it needs to increase the exposure. If I allowed the cameras meter to have its way, I would have lots of detail showing in the curtains and the dancers would be too bright with loss of detail. Spot Metering is not a good option in this situation. Most all cameras with any manual features at all have the ability to adjust the EV (Exposure Value). This also help to tweak out as much shutter speed as I need from the low lighting situation of theater.

I compose and wait until I think the timing is right and then fire off a burst of three or four shots, hoping everything falls into place and one of those bursts hit the right moment.

The good fun is looking over the several hundred images taken during the performance and seeing the magic of these wonderful dancers come out on the screen.

Editing and importing is done through LightRoom 2.5 and work requiring more extensive editing is brought into Photoshop CS4. All of these were cropped and tweaked to bring out the best exposures and detail in LightRoom only.


willow said...

That second one of Samara is especially nice, Gary.

Hilary said...

They're wonderful photos and I loved reading about how you captured them. I tend to shoot most often in shutter speed preferred too, and adjust the ISO as needed. I'd love to hear about what was done to the images in PS CS4

Gary Heller said...

Hey Willow, that's one of my favs of Samara too.

Hilary, none of the photos from this show has been brought into CS 4. I only go there for more extensive editing.
Cropping and desaturation was done in Lightroom.



The sitting scenes are mesmerizing.

Anonymous said...

Gary, wonderful photographs. your shutter settings make sense, i'll have to try this.

Eric Calabros said...

Thank ISO goodness :-)

Daryl said...

I am in awe ... in awe ... loving the first, I thought they couldnt get better and then I scrolled and they were ... one after the other .. superb .. light issues? Not that I can tell.

Lianne said...

Wow, Samara is amazing. What great expression you've managed to capture.

Dade F said...

Gary , some great shots there, well done, especially capturing the movement ;)

joanne May said...

Great photos, Gary. Samara looks beautiful in the second picture. I think my friend knows her as she is also a professional belly dancer. She is called Carmen. Her website is on my blog. Take a look if you have a moment.
I am watching V tonight. It has finally arrived here in the UK...Yay!
I will look out for your photo's in the apartment!
All the best.

P.S. I love this new Steam Punk fashion too. A fabulous portrait on your last post.:)

Anonymous said...

To capture the motion is really a talent! Nice collection as usual.^^