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There are various types of dance - ballroom_ modern_ jazz_ ballet

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There are various types of dance - ballroom_ modern_ jazz_ ballet Powered By Docstoc
					There are various types of dance - ballroom, modern, jazz, ballet, etc. Generally speaking jazz and ballet often has reasonable light (ISO 3200-1600, 1/250 - 1/60, F2.8-F4), modern is all over the place from very dark (ISO 3200, 1/10 F2.8 to very bright (ISO 800, 1/250, F4), and ballroom is consistently bright. Junior dance competitions are also very well lit and high shutter speeds can be often used. The 5D and 1D-III perform exceptionally well in low light in terms of noise and very well for focus (of course, the new Nikon cameras such as the D300 and D3 are superb choices). The 135L, 100mm F2, 85mm 1.8 or 1.2, 50mm F1.4 and 35mm F1.4 are excellent in very low light (although the 85 1.2 is slow to focus). Generally, the lenses of choice are the 24-70 F2.8 and the 70-200 F2.8. In good light, the 24-105 should be quite good if you work shooting in front of or near the stage. Lighting styles for serious dance is now, for some reason, very low compared to a few years ago. Supposedly, this adds to drama and also makes a dramatic dint in the pocket book when you buy high speed primes. Here are some suggestions that should work: 1. use ISO 3200 and don't worry about noise. The important thing is to keep the images as sharp as possible - shutter speed helps. For most of the performing arts, NOISE IS NOT BAD - and, in fact, can add to a picture. Always attempt to capture the BEST IMAGE OF DANCE and don't get concerned about noise levels, colour balance and other things that the many shooters are overly-concerned about. Besides, colour, shadows, lighting direction etc. as set up by the lighting designer is a very important part of the production. The colour rendition at ISO 3200/6400 is not perfect - however will not be noticed in any images because of the nature and colour of performance lighting. 2. If you shoot MANUAL exposure, I think ISO 3200, 1/160, F4 is a good place to start particularily with the 24-70 or the 70-200. Of course, different lighting conditions will require substantially different exposures. I generally shoot manual exposure, use the spot meter whenever a lighting change happens and examine the image on the display every few shots to ensure my exposure is accurate. This takes a bit of practice, however yields the best results. 3. If you shoot Shutter Priority, use average exposure (the magical things with the ettl just don't work properly for these severe conditions). Always examine the image display for exposure and find if compensation is needed. If the general background of the production is sort of medium tone with colour or scenery, shooting Tv mode works quite well. If the background is black and the dancers have various coloured costumes, none of the auto-modes work well. None the less, shooting Shutter priority with a "medium size spot" or "small spot" for metering can work fine if you figure out how to use on-the-fly exposure compensation. The medium sized spot meter will cover a sufficient part of the dancer and exclude a large portion of the background. Typically, I find that an exposure compensation of -2/3 stop on Canon cameras will avoid blown highlights - but that depends upon the lighting design, costumes, and your ability to follow focus. Even with auto-exposure, you should examine for blown highlights and adjust your exposure compensation to suit. After a while, you will learn to judge the compensation simply by looking at the lighting style and dancers' costumes. 4. If you are in front of the stage, you will probably find that focal lengths from 40-105mm will capture good compositions - 40mm for the nearer dancers and 100mm for further away dancers.

5. If you move a couple of rows back, sit in a chair with your elbows on the arm rests for support - you can use the longer focal lengths and get good images without camera blur. The 135mm F2 is very sharp wide open - don't be afraid to use this lens at F2 or F2.8 - focus however is a bit more difficult. 6. Almost always, shoot TUNGSTEN white balance (dont use AWB). The camera will never follow the light properly in Auto White Balance (assuming a normal dance production with coloured lights, etc) This will preserve the lighting quality intended by the lighting designer - and the lighting is truly part of the intent of the dance. 7. Dance is often "peak action". Try to time the images at the peak of a grand jette, jump, etc. This can yield very sharp results even at 1/30 second. It is not important to keep the entire body perfectly sharp - motion blur in the feet, hands, and hair is very acceptable and gives the impression of motion - of course some of the critical parts of the body should be very (or at least acceptably) sharp. Different dancers have different skills - older experienced dancers have grace and muscle condtioning to allow smooth peak action shots. Children are often much more difficult to photograph because of their lack of dance grace however some that make it to high level competitions are quite competent. 8. Normally, I would recommend shooting RAW files if you have enough card space: try RAW - simply to allow exposure recovery when needed. 9.Generally speaking, your camera should be at the waist level of the dancers, This gives the best overall perspective and body shapes. For jumps, it gives the illusion of height. This would be the case automatically if you are shooting from the front of the stage with the 24-70. If you move back a few rows to use the 135mm, try not to be looking down on the dance. 10. Dance often has a specific "direction" or "location on stage" for at least a number of seconds - you might think of these as "choreographic scenes". Don't be afraid to move around while you shoot to try and capture a good composition. 11. Dancers and choreographers have a different perception of "a good photograph". Generally, they are concerned about the body composition as it is in space and how the body interprets the choreography. The photographer is generally more inteterested with action, geometric composition rules, photographic lighting precepts, and technical image quality. Very often, a good picture by your standards will be marginal at best by the performers standards and visa versa. From the dancer's perspective, a hand or foot slightly twisted in a "wrong" angle can negate the image in their eyes however the photographer will see a "beautiful" image. 12. If the lighting is "really very low" use an F2 or faster lens, move a bit get proper performance coverage, prop your elbows and shoot at F2 :-) It will work and very well. Even cropping heavily with the 5D yields excellent images. 13. SET CONTRAST TO LOW (for jpg files) in the camera. Dance is often high contrast, spot lights, diagonal lighting, etc. On my 5D or 1D-III I have set the picture style to Neutral, sharpenning = 0, contrast = -3. 14. don't worry if your exposures are not perfect. Colour images almost demand perfect exposures - however many images of dance actually look better in black and white. If you have some nice images with block-up red channel (quite common) or other exposure errors, simply try a B&W conversion - very often the images becomes very good. In fact, even for perfectly done images, try a B&W conversion.

15. Because of probable low light and difficult contrast conditions, use the centre focus spot alone - the only "crossed" spot on the 5D. If lighting is reasonably bright or if you are using a camera with multiple cross-type focus sensors, try to select the appropriate focus point for the given action. Choosing the appropriate focus point is MUCH better than using the centre point and the recompose for the shot. 16. I use AI Servo with the * button to allow focus. If it is difficult to choose the appropriate focus poing for a given shot, follow the subject with the centre spot - use the zoom to ensure enough coverage and crop later. If you wish to use One Shot and "focus and recompose", it becomes difficult to get forward / diagonal motions sharp - however works well for other images. A fine dance capture that might be heavily enlarged and noisy is much better than a mediocre full frame low noise image. tony


				
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