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Photographing dance events

June 14th, 2011

Photographing dance events

I've been lucky over the last past two years to get connected with the local dance groups. I'm often able to photograph the performances or dress rehearsals and have come up with some techniques to capture the events.

To set expectations they are very low light typically so I've been lucky to be able to afford some fast glass. I shoot most of the performances at f2.8 meaning I have to get my focus dead on. I will also have two cameras where each one has a different lens so I can zoom in and zoom out depending on the lighting, distance from the subject etc. the first camera I usually have at ISO 800 or so and the second at ISO 6400. This allows me to shoot medium light to dark just by switching a camera and not messing too much with settings. Another thing is that I chimp a lot to make sure I'm not overblowing the light too much or having it be too dark.

For post processing I use adobe lightroom and that lets me adjust images that are too dark a stop or two. I also have a lot of the filters and tend to find some of the black and white filters do wonders to the images that have some motion blur but you want to pop out the dancer.

A few other random notes about dance photography. Light balance I typically set to incandescent, shutter speed is usually between 40th and 250th of a second. F-stop is usually between 2.8 and 5. I also never use a flash (makes it harder for dancers to concentrate.) And the last bit is that dress rehearsals let you get angles you could never get from a control room or a fixed location during a performance.

Be groovy and all good shooting.