Friday, June 7, 2013

Shooting a Dance Recital

Originally Posted by davidc502
Over the years I've managed to do quite a few recitals and dance competitions. For me, the secret is under-exposing 1-2 stops due to potential blown highlights.
With a f/2.8 lens, ISO-1600, and TV=250 to 500 which is set completely on Manual. Never let the camera make any decisions when shooting dance competitions.
David's suggestion is dead on. You don't want to go +2/3EC... go the opposite. Start with -1 on meter. it all depends on the background. 80% of the dance/performance lighting have 1 to 2 stops of hot lighting in the main strip.

Position yourself at the back center of the seating area if possible. You want to be about 3ft above the stage floor height. A long lens will minimize your movement as you pan the stage.

YES!. Last friday night I shot a recital for Dance of Hope. The stage background was a black curtain in addition to a poorly lit stage to the rear. At that point I had a few options. 1. use spot metering for the dancers. Not very forgiving to say the least when your subject is moving. or 2. Stay on evaluative metering and compensate for the dark background by using exposure compensation. I went -1 1/3 EC and the photos turned out wonderful. Had I not used EC the dancers, especialy their faces would have been blown out.

For dance recitals i tend to use manual mode, keeping shutter at least 1/250. Mostly shot with 85/1.8 or 70-200. Single shot to avoid machine gunning the other audiences' ears. Rear LCD preview set to off, so i dont blind myself and others.

Yup.. manual mode only would be best. Otherwise your exposure will be bouncing all over due to how wide and tight you capture. Plus, the dancer's attire will also influence the auto mode. Again, if/when you fill the screen with a group of dancer wearing white, you'll be 2 stop under exposed.

Manual mode, keep and eye on your histogram, and I shoot RAW always so that I can adjust color if needed.
WB settings in camera won't help prevent colored lights from making a mess if they are constantly changing.

...and on the flipside, sometimes those lighting designers know what they are doing and can set a fantastic mood that you wouldn't want your cameras WB to compensate for and remove.

Absolutely, AI Servo for anything that moves. I kid you not, over the 2 days of that dance competition, I took 10,450 shots with the 5D3. ONLY less than 10 shots were out of focus... and was due to the subject (dancer) failed to track out of the AF zone grid.

Just like the 7D, normally for sports, I choose a point with expansion. The focusing point is either the center or 1 point off center. However for this event, I enabled the entire 61 points focusing zone but start tracking point in the middle. It's amazing seeing the square just following the dancer throughout the zone grid. Of course, once in a while it will get confused and I'll just have to go back to the center point and start tracking again.

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