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Thread: Dance concert

  1. #1
    wilgk's Avatar
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    Kay

    Dance concert

    Sportsfan - coerced into Dance concert photography eeek.

    If anyone has suggestions for what worked and what didn't, if they have done this, I would love to hear from you.

    Gear -The school has a 5D and 24-70 so I am borrowing that to go with my 7D.
    I have hired the 70-200 as will be more restricted movement wise than when using my trusty 85 & 200.
    I think I will be upstairs at front of dress circle or in 1 of the side 'boxes'.
    So was thinking 24-70 on the full frame and 70-200 on 7D??

    Exposures - I can watch a run through first - but I don't think just asking temperature of lights will help with all white balance evils - as I think there will lots of coloured lights and separate spots etc.
    So was thinking maybe leaving grey card on stage for run throughs to see if that helps with white balance - does that sound an idea?

    Other exposure idea was start with speed to freeze their motion, aperture to get Dancers chosen sharp, then crank up the ISO - again if anyone has a tried and tested methodology, I would love to hear from you.

    I want to get a sample of whole stage large group shots and some close ups of faces or feet or costume details, to give a bit of variety.

    I don't know if panning or artistic blur - might be a bit OTT in this context, the chance that they think it's blurry due to a mistake is a bit of a fear.

    Thank you so much in advance to anyone who has time to share their ideas on this 1.

    Bring back the basketball season I say!

  2. #2

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    Re: Dance concert

    I have a book about low light photography that mentions some of your issues Kay, so I'll let you in on some of it. The bit that I can remember anyway.
    If you have access to the dress rehearsal, you don't need to be where they put you, as you're not getting in the way. Tell them that if they want pictures, that's the way they'll get them. Its a rehearsal for you too.
    Colour temperature - (from film days BTW) should be based on the spotlights, where the lighting guys intend natural lighting. Any colour casts from coloured gells on lights is intentional, so you can capture that using the same white balance and if the colours are of, well they were when you took the shot, so the colour cast was "meant to be".
    Plonk a tripod down (in the rehearsal) if you can, to help steady the camera to use lower ISO.
    Let them know that on the day, you will not be able to just roam about, as it will annoy the audience, so they have to put up with you in the rehearsal.
    Shoot the star's faces, dressed up, before the rehearsal if you can. They'll be less sweaty and any makeup will be new. You'll also have some "in the bag" before the occasion, which has got to be a plus.
    Get some rehearsal shots printed and on display for the main event.

    HTH

  3. #3

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    Remco

    Re: Dance concert

    I did something like this a couple of months ago (see here and here). Not by invitation though, so no access to rehearsals :/. It was a dance performance of the school my daughter is taking dancing lessons ('Conservatoire d'Avignon', dancers from 6y old to adults, beginners to semi-pro) so a lot of different scenes, with different lighting and speed of movement. So just some notes about what I felt worked and didn't work

    I did have access to several performances, which was a big help: it allowed me for the later ones to have an idea of the key points in the performance, and have an idea where to position myself.

    I found that a monopod was already a tremendous help, and a lot less limiting than a tripod would have been.
    As for exposition: maximum opening (F4 or thereabouts on crop sensor), get the time around 1/125 if possible, and ISO up as high as you can to get decent quality (for me: 800-1600 ISO worked out quite good for 13cm prints, even on rather severe crops). That said, I had successes at much lower speeds as well (down to 1/6s ). Another point: I could dial in a negative exposure correction (I went to about -1 EV) as there was a lot of black in the scene (background and floor).
    I set a manual WB (tungsten), to get 'true' colours in the preview JPEGs (and avoid the camera going bonkers trying to get a neutral picture when there's only blue or red light...)

    As I only have my kit lens (18-55 mm) or a 70-300 mm telezoom (on a 1.5 crop factor Sony A330), I only used the kit lens (and with Sony, forget renting lenses...). The tele was way to restricted to get anything but individual dancers, and I didn't have (access to) a 2nd body.

    The main 'problem' I had in PP was noise, but results were quite acceptable with reduction of chromatic noise only. This preserved a lot of the sharpness a luminance noise reduction would have destroyed. And I find luminance noise less objectionable...

    A few gotchas I ran into:
    - foot lights: they really mess up the exposition... You can get hit by them when positioning yourself to the side of the scene (as I did for one performance...)
    - strongly coloured lights : light metering gets confused, and over exposes -> one channel gets blown, and the others have very little info, so the image is lost (or very difficult to recover).
    - public: a lot of the parents were using cameras, and if you are behind them, those LCD's show up...

    In your case, I'd really try and get access to several rehearsals, not only the dress rehearsal, in order to get a feel for the performance and block out when and where you want to take shots. Also, if they want shots as a souvenir or a reportage, pics from rehearsals can be very interesting (behind the scenes might be possible for you, I'd have to get a female shooter for those).

    As for getting prints done before the main event: I did some after the first performance, but mainly to see how things worked out (noise, exposition, colour). It's be nice to have some handy, but don't expect any of the teachers or performers to look at them: they are way too busy/stressed to take the time and sit down to look at pictures.
    Last edited by revi; 2nd November 2010 at 12:48 PM.

  4. #4
    wilgk's Avatar
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    Kay

    Re: Dance concert

    Thankyou Remco & Jonathan
    Remco I did check out those threads as well, so that was great thanks - also Antonio pointed me to another spot (that started in the portrait topic, bounced onto Basketball & finished with Dance) ....don't ask me how

    Quote Originally Posted by Antonio Correia View Post
    Key look what I found ! ...
    Dance concert
    [URL="http://lens.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/06/01/shoptalk-capturing-dance/"]

    Quote Originally Posted by Antonio Correia View Post
    I am reading it and you came to my mind.
    Quote:
    "...If you can pan your camera to follow the movement, it will help isolate your subject from the action happening all around..."
    They refer to ASA but you can read ISO instead.(The same link clicking on the image.)
    So today is the day!
    This is a school program with kids choosing Dance in sport, rather than a Dance Lessons program's performance.
    So there is 1 show only with 1 in theatre rehearsal (not dress - but with techs& lights) a 1hr break for techs - kids eat then show begins.

    The images are needed for school magazine with publishing deadlines requiring my shots need to be back to them tomorrow, so I'm going to get a wee taste of 'the real world' in that respect.

    Backstage in the dressing room area is a good odea, but this is where I used to assist for the past 5 years - I'm concerned if I pop in there, they won't see 'photographer' they will see...Ooh goody someone else to help with little jenny who's sick, little sally with a blister and little mary who's costume won't do up

    However I will take the advice of 'side stage' and the wings - as I think due to the kids coming on and off at the sides - there may be some 'looking at me' from that vantage point.
    The Dance Teacher also advised me with this age group & level of ability they often still watch their feet and if you are up too high - you won't get any faces, more just heads!
    so I'm hoping the 'side stage' idea might assist with that.

    So thanks again for your replies - Murphy's Law this performance is at a different theatre than the choirs day, which is my 1 other venture into this area.....oh well.
    I am really looking forward to the challenge and hoping for a fun day/night

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