And More Dance

November 18th, 2008

D20 1286 vi And More DanceLighting, of course, is key to successful dance performance photos. And particularly when working with student productions I never know what I’m going to encounter. The Ohio University School of Dance has an excellent lighting designer on the faculty who teaches lighting design. When he lights a piece I know I’m going to be getting good photos. His students also do a good job when they do the lighting, but there are sometimes surprises for me as they learn the exacting craft of lighting design.

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Most often what I encounter that provides a challenge for photos is a lot of range in the intensity of the light. Since built-in exposure meters are useless in this lighting situation I have to shoot with the camera on manual and adjust by eye as the light changes. That’s one reason I like to attend the lighting rehearsals. I take test exposures and make notes. When I’m shooting I’ll have a notepad open beside me with the lighting adjustments for each dance noted. I also do quick “chimping” to check the histogram now and then to make sure I’m not too far off.

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But sometimes the dancers, choreographers and lighting designers get so creative that they end up throwing a real curve at me. That’s ok. These productions are not intended to be designed to make it easy for the photographer. They are aimed at the audience. I’m just there to record what they came up with. If we were there just to make photos the light would be very different…and at a much higher level as well.

D20 1338 vi And More Dance This piece was one of those curve balls for photography. Yes, that’s right, the piece is lit by flashlights carried by the dancers. There were parts of the piece where that was the only source of light. Thankfully most of the dance also had some, not much, but some, light thrown in from the stage lights.

D20 1397 vi And More Dance My exposures ranged from 1/15 to 1/100 of a second at f/1.4 at 1600 ISO. My goal was to capture the feel of the light and the piece while still getting an occasional somewhat sharp photo. I think it worked out pretty well.

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Photos and comments by Dave Levingston. This is the place to see my most recent work which may include nudes, dance, landscape, nature and whatever other kinds of photos I feel like taking.

Since it does contain nude photos, this blog is not intended for viewing by anyone under the age of 18.

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