Saturday, June 23, 2012

Let The Dancing Begin!

As a member of a very large family, I am blessed with plenty of photographic options. Three of my beautiful and talented nieces are all excellent dancers. I've watched them perform over the years and tried to capture their movements - not an easy task since I am generally stuck behind some large-headed relative who loves to wave to their favorite dancer, blocking a large part of my image. 


I spend a lot of time in editing - cropping out those crazy heads. And I've learned that if I take a LOT of pictures, maybe I'll get one or two good ones.


 

I've learned a lot over the years thanks to the challenge of no flash and sitting a long distance away. I'd like to share some tips for those who would like to capture these precious moments.

My nieces Daphne and Kim. This is one shot I knew I got the second I snapped it. I was lucky enough to have a straight shot and I was prepared for the moment.

1. Sit next to someone who knows which acts your favorite dancers are in and where they may be located on the stage. (Preferably Mom - she can help you prepare for all the good shots)

2. Remember to put your ISO on the highest setting that works for your camera.  ISO can be your best friend. Today's cameras are providing great quality with high ISO numbers. It's another way for light to enter your lens. 

Just remember to readjust the ISO down to 100 or 200 when you leave the auditorium or your outdoor photos will be totally blown out. 




  
3.  Use a good zoom lens. I used a 200 mm on these. You need to use a lens that will allow you to focus in on your whole dancer. She (he) is no good without their feet included (and this is hard with big head in front of you).
 
4. Anticipate the motion. Dance is all about grace, style and motion. To capture it you need to be just a step ahead of it.




5. Don't trust your camera's automatic settings. The stage lights can trick your sensor. Check your viewfinder regularly and change your settings to get what you want. For example, I never go below 1/60th of a second, because I want my focus to be as sharp as possible, but I can play with my aperture depending on how brightly the stage is lit. An aperture of f8 is needed when my star is brightly lit.



But when the stage lights aren't so bright and I want to really focus on her alone, I open up to an f2.8 or whatever low number (wide open) aperture I can use to get the dancer in motion.


And, when the recital goes really long and you are cramping and hungry, know that you have done your very best and you just might have an award winning image.



Keep shooting, friends, and capturing all of the magical moments in life!