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  1. #11
    rbarker's Avatar
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    Even if you can only shoot at the final dress rehersal, and from off-stage, Nicole, I think I'd try to talk to stage manager to see if you could get access to the stage, with the lights on, to do test incident metering prior to the start of the dress-rehersal performance (relating to my diagram suggestion). Also, ask if there are significant lighting changes that will occur during the performance.

    I'd think if you convey the idea that you want to stay out of their way, but want to capture the full glory of their efforts, they'd be likely to cooperate. They may start with the attitude that the photography is a nuisance they are forced to put up with, but a little ego stroking might go a long way.
    [COLOR=SlateGray]"You can't depend on your eyes if your imagination is out of focus." -Mark Twain[/COLOR]

    Ralph Barker
    Rio Rancho, NM

  2. #12
    Nicole's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by rbarker
    Even if you can only shoot at the final dress rehersal, and from off-stage, Nicole, I think I'd try to talk to stage manager to see if you could get access to the stage, with the lights on, to do test incident metering prior to the start of the dress-rehersal performance (relating to my diagram suggestion). Also, ask if there are significant lighting changes that will occur during the performance.

    I'd think if you convey the idea that you want to stay out of their way, but want to capture the full glory of their efforts, they'd be likely to cooperate. They may start with the attitude that the photography is a nuisance they are forced to put up with, but a little ego stroking might go a long way.
    Thank you Ralph, I'll give it a go.

  3. #13
    Wally H's Avatar
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    I photograph musicians in performance. Maybe some of my approaches might be transferable to your situation, maybe not.

    *) When shooting or moving around off or on stage black clothing keeps one less of a distraction.

    *) I never use a flash. I feel it is disrespectful towards both the musicians and the audience. As a musician I feel it is very distracting, as a member of the audience I feel it is very distracting when other use flash. If I need to use flash then it needs to be a closed auditorium and shoot set up specifically for that purpose.

    *) I use slow speed film, (100 asa). If shooting digital and the end usage is small enough, I'll use a higher speed / lower resolution setting.

    *) I try to know where the spots (lights) are going to be and only shoot when the subject is in those spots, giving me enough light to shoot the slow speed film with a shutter speed that will stop the action. Shoot when the subject is there and take what the situation will give you. Most of the time when a musician is doing a lead and the expression are most expressive they tend to be highlighted with spots anyway so in my case in works out okay. Blurred motion is acceptable a lot of time, maybe even more in your situation.

    *) Study the art of the performance. For instance, as a musician I generally have a feel for when breaks in songs are going to be, leads are going to happen, etc. One can be prepared for the moments when specific light, lack of movement, climax in expression, etc, etc., all happen. Something like, "chance favors the prepared".

    *) Generally long lenses are used, 200+ (35mm)

    *) I work individuals rather than for group shots. The light is almost always too contrasty, (some musicians in spot lights, some not, some stage areas totally black, etc.), for successful overall stage images. Some larger productions may have overall lighting that might work, but most of the time not.

    *) I watch a lot thru the viewfinder. Sometimes I spend so much time behind it people think I'm doing video.
    Regards,

    Wally

    Member:
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    (like we need your support)

  4. #14
    Nicole's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ceratto
    I photograph musicians in performance. Maybe some of my approaches might be transferable to your situation, maybe not.
    *) When shooting or moving around off or on stage black clothing keeps one less of a distraction.
    *) I never use a flash.
    *) I use slow speed film, (100 asa).
    *) I try to know where the spots (lights) are going to be and only shoot when the subject is in those spots, giving me enough light to shoot the slow speed film with a shutter speed that will stop the action.
    *) Study the art of the performance.
    *) Generally long lenses are used, 200+ (35mm)
    *) I work individuals rather than for group shots.
    *) I watch a lot thru the viewfinder.
    Wally, you're a world of information!!! Thank you very much!!!
    Unfortunately I do not have a long lens and will therefore will have to work with either a 50mm 1.4 or an 85mm 1.8 on my F90X.
    I'm very suprised you use such a slow film.
    Kind regards
    Nicole

  5. #15
    rbarker's Avatar
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    Oops, forgot to mention. If you have a monopod, you might try that for flexibility, instead of a tripod. You can then leave it extended to eye level, and just whisk around. I did a fashion model shoot at night recently on "Glitter Gulch" (Fremont Street) in Las Vegas for a calendar, using only existing street light. The monopod allowed me to shoot as low as 1/15 sec on ISO 100 color film with the Noctilux on my Leica M. The other fellow was using a portable studio strobe. My shots came out, his didn't. (insert evil tee hee here)
    [COLOR=SlateGray]"You can't depend on your eyes if your imagination is out of focus." -Mark Twain[/COLOR]

    Ralph Barker
    Rio Rancho, NM

  6. #16
    Flotsam's Avatar
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    I used to shoot a lot of Classical Ballet. It is very challenging. Let me see if I can remember any tips.

    I used to use Tri-X at 1600 developed in Diafine.

    Most important. Timing is everything. Remember that when something goes up, it is motionless for a split instant before going back down. Time your exposures for the peak of the action or the tiny momentary pauses in movement. This can be difficult and takes concentration but it will make the difference between a useless blur and a tack sharp shot even with slow shutter speeds. This often defines the skill of a performance photographer.

    Practice holding the camera rock steady and releasing the shutter smoothly without moving the camera. Even if your subject is still, a tiny amount of camera movement can ruin the shot, especially when using telephotos at slow speeds.

    While it is natural for a photographer to concentrate on faces and expression, the Ballet is all about the full figure especially the feet. Don't cut them off. Concentrate on the whole frame.

    Lighting during the performance is constantly changing. There is a guy at a light board whose only job is to foil any attempts at successful photography. (not really, but it sure seems like it )

    Beware the wing lights. As dancers approach the sides of the stage they can get blasted by those d@mned things.

    While the overall stage may meter fairly dark The priciples, being followed by a spotlight can be very brightly lit. You can often run into more problems with blocked-up overexposure than too thin.

    Try to be invisible. Stay out of the way of the dancers. More than once, while concentrating too intently on the viewfinder, I've nearly been stampeded by a flock of fairies. If you are shooting from the wings, shoot with both eyes open.

    Shoot plenty of film. Some shots will inevitably be blurred or otherwise unusable. Nobody gets 100% under those difficult conditions. The successes are very satisfying though.

    Best of luck and have fun!
    That is called grain. It is supposed to be there.
    =Neal W.=

  7. #17
    Nicole's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Flotsam
    I used to shoot a lot of Classical Ballet. It is very challenging. Let me see if I can remember any tips.

    I used to use Tri-X at 1600 developed in Diafine.

    Stay out of the way of the dancers. More than once, while concentrating too intently on the viewfinder, I've nearly been stampeded by a flock of fairies.
    Neil, what great advice! You crack me up totally with the fairies story. I can just imagine, and sympathise.
    I have 400 film for the dressing rooms and 800 film for the stage. I'm hoping to get away without pushing as much as I can.
    Question: If I do have to push different frames on a film, it'll be impossible to take notes on all frames of course, what instructions do I give the lab?

  8. #18
    Flotsam's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Nicole McGrade
    Neil, what great advice! You crack me up totally with the fairies story. I can just imagine, and sympathise.
    I have 400 film for the dressing rooms and 800 film for the stage. I'm hoping to get away without pushing as much as I can.
    Question: If I do have to push different frames on a film, it'll be impossible to take notes on all frames of course, what instructions do I give the lab?
    You can't push individual frames. You have to shoot the whole roll at the pushed speed so that it can processed to compensate. It's all or nothin'.

    I didn't notice before that you planned to shoot color during the performance. You may have problems with color balance. I don't have much experience with those films. Hopefully someone who has used those films under stage lights will tell you what to expect.
    **************
    When you watch a Ballet performance from the audience those girls seem to be lighter than air, barely brushing the ground as they float across the stage.

    When I was first backstage, I was shocked that those graceful, airy little things actually stomp around the stage like a bunch of Teamsters in a room full of cockroaches.
    A line of Snowflakes rushing off the stage at full speed in your direction is like facing a herd of stampeding buffalo. It's terrifying.
    Kind of suspends the illusion.
    That is called grain. It is supposed to be there.
    =Neal W.=

  9. #19
    rbarker's Avatar
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    Cute story about being trampled by that herd of faeries, Neal. And, good tip about the momentary stillness at the peak of jumps. My experience has been limited to more controlled work in the studio.



    She came prepared to do Swan Lake, but all I could afford was a rubber duck.
    [COLOR=SlateGray]"You can't depend on your eyes if your imagination is out of focus." -Mark Twain[/COLOR]

    Ralph Barker
    Rio Rancho, NM

  10. #20
    clogz's Avatar
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    So: a bathing beauty!
    Digital is best taken with a grain of silver.

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