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Thread: Moroccan Dancers

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    David's Avatar
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    Moroccan Dancers

    Hi All - Apart from providing some eye candy, I thought these images might be of interest. While eating at a Moroccan restaurant there was a floor show. Three dancers demonstrated their ample skills. I took some 50 shots with my Canon 40D fitted with a f1.4 50mm Canon prime lens. ISO was set at 1600, I used Av mode and sometimes fill in flash. Exposure times varied between 1/10 and 1/20 th second without flash and up to 1/200 th second with flash. Conditions could be summarised as very low light, fast, chaotic movement, handheld camera, no chance for formal posing. Most of the shots were poor. How should such a show be captured?

    Moroccan Dancers

    Moroccan Dancers

    Moroccan Dancers

    The third image is of a dancer balancing several lighted candles on a tray on her head. Do not try this at home.

    Cheers

    David

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    Re: Moroccan Dancers

    Quote Originally Posted by David View Post
    How should such a show be captured?
    First I'd say don't be afraid of ISO 3200. Are you going to make 20"x30" fine art prints of these? With good exposure and processing ISO 3200 will look great as 8"x12" prints. It's my experience that a good exposure from a higher ISO tends to look less noisy than an underexposure from a lower ISO.

    Learn raw processing. You have a lot more options to deal with the noise using raw. Shoot jpeg + raw if you want.

    The meter is looking to make middle gray, so if you point it at a dark scene it's going to expose to really lighten it up. Dial in -1 exp comp, or better yet switch to manual. Take a few test shots to see what looks good, and then just leave it there. Unless someone is turning on and off the lights the lighting is likely to remain the same. If the dancers are moving from light to dark figure out the setting for each area.

    With the fast prime lens shooting with available light only would be my first choice. I would do some testing to see if you like what that lens looks like at f/1.4 and f/1.6. It's a little dreamy, but that works for some subjects. By f/1.8 it's starting to look pretty sharp and contrasty.

    Don't be afraid of a little motion blur. It adds to the flavor of the subjects. Drama and good color trump sharpness any day.

    When hand holding slow shutter speeds try to brace the camera correctly.
    http://www.google.com/search?q=how+to+hold+a+camera

    Sometimes I'll set the camera to continuous shooting, and fire off a couple of shots. Sometimes the second exposure will have less camera shake than the first. The 40D is pretty quiet, but this could get annoying depending on the noise level. It works fine shooting rock-n-roll bands.

    A Speedlight bounced off the ceiling is going to be a lot better than the pop-up. You may want to dial in some negative flash comp. Just like the light meter the flash is looking for middle gray, and dark scenes can confuse it.

    http://www.diyphotography.net/the-pa...ck-in-business

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    David's Avatar
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    Re: Moroccan Dancers

    Thanks for the comments Henry. The point about middle grey I shall bear in mind.

    David

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    Re: Moroccan Dancers

    Difficult conditions indeed. From the colour casts it looks like incandescent lighting so the best bet would have been a Lightsphere on your flash with the amber dome insert and white balance set to Incandescent. (Two days with a lightsphere and suddenly I'm an expert)

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    Re: Moroccan Dancers

    Probably outside the scope of what you're after, but if you're looking to shoot these kinds of event professionally then nothing beats setting up some flashes close to the stage - powered by external power sources - and triggered with pocket wizards.

    All depends on how you're allowed to handle it - but if you have the luxury of setting up & testing before hand the difference it can make can be measured in "orders of magnitude".

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    David's Avatar
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    Re: Moroccan Dancers

    Bill, Colin - Thanks for the comments. A Light Sphere was out of the question as I had to use the in-built flash, although I suppose had I thought I could have improved with some sort of diffuser. I agree that professionally some fixed lighting etc would be the way to go, but that would not be on without the consent and cost of restaurant management.

    Thanks again.

    David

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    Re: Moroccan Dancers

    David,

    A 'quick and dirty' solution in the sort of situation you found yourself in would be with the aid of a handkerchief to act as diffuser. However, whilst appreciating that this is not a 'pro event/set up', my greatest advice would be to abandon using your in camera flash and use a detachable or bracketed unit. It really would make a world of difference and take your pictures to the next level.

    I think you did right in cranking up the ISO, I would always try taking some available light shots, but given what appear to be flashing spotlights etc, then you can control it a little by using your own lighting, and then reduce the ISO utilising the benefit of your own flash lighting. A dedicated flash will undoubtedly make this easier.

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    Re: Moroccan Dancers

    Quote Originally Posted by shreds View Post
    ...my greatest advice would be to abandon using your in camera flash and use a detachable or bracketed unit.
    Hi Shreds,

    Is there any advantage in using a bracketed unit over using just the detachable hot shoe mount unit?

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    Re: Moroccan Dancers

    I rarely use my flash on the hot shoe anyway.

    I have a very old Vivitar bracket that has done me proud for getting on for getting on for 25 years. I regard it has having a better and firmer connection than my Metz 76.

    The advantage of using a bracket is to get the flash head up and away from the lens, which avoids problems of lens shadows appearing, and of course generally removes the spectre of red eye, which I notice is just visible on the first of these shots.

    I find the additional grip is handy with the additional weight of the flash unit, although sometimes I will use the flash totally off camera, using a command unit to trigger a number of flashguns placed on stands around a room.

    Although I have not used them, some of the brackets available now, will open out, to change the flash position, which if I were buying one, I would certainly consider.

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