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  1. #1
    Nicole's Avatar
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    Stage Performance Shoot

    Hi all
    I was wondering what tips/warnings you may have on shooting a ballet performance shoot on stage and candid shots backstage. This is not a setup shoot with backdrops etc...
    I have: TriX400, Delta3200,
    NPH400 for dressing rooms, Fujicolour Press 800 for on stage,
    No Flash, F90X & Hassy 501, No filters.
    I like to keep things simple.
    Look forward to your input. Thanks again everyone, always nice to hear from you!
    Kindest regards.

  2. #2

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    No flash? Unless it's extremely well, and brightly, lit, that's a recipe for underlit, grainy photos. If grainy is the goal, then go for it. I've shot some plays w/Delta 3200. It's a definite "look", but not what I would think of if I were to shoot ballet.

    I've done a couple of these, and my approach was to shoot at a rehearsal, or set up a special shooting time, when I could use a flash. I got on stage with a TLR and a flash w/an umbrella, and got some good stuff.
    "If You Push Something Hard Enough, It Will fall over" - Fudd's First Law of Opposition

  3. #3
    Nicole's Avatar
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    Hi Doug, thanks for the info.
    Unfortunately these are with many, many very young and older children so I won't be allowed on stage due to 101 accidental reasons that are possible.
    I really don't like the look of bright flash units and prefer the more dramatic stage look but am also desperately trying to keep the grain down low. Not the most flattering for very young ballet dancers - in this instance anyway.
    Tricky I know. But I'm sure nothing APUG can't solve...

  4. #4
    Bob Carnie's Avatar
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    Nicole

    I printed for a very succesfull stage photographer out of the UK.
    Her work was in demand world wide, when Livent was going well we produced work for Showboat, Joseph, Kiss of Spiderwoman.
    Her work was superb. HP5 rated 800 processed Microphen.
    She used 35mm with extremely fast lenses. No flash
    good luck and have fun

  5. #5
    Nicole's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bob Carnie
    Nicole

    I printed for a very succesfull stage photographer out of the UK.
    Her work was in demand world wide, when Livent was going well we produced work for Showboat, Joseph, Kiss of Spiderwoman.
    Her work was superb. HP5 rated 800 processed Microphen.
    She used 35mm with extremely fast lenses. No flash
    good luck and have fun
    Thanks very much Bob. This is great!!
    In that case my 50mm 1.4 lens should work very well here. TriX 400 will have to do in this case for behind the scenes work.
    On stage they'd like colour.

  6. #6
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    I've done a few and they are somewhat challenging as far as the performance part, as the light levels from the stage lights are not as bright as they seem. I would attend a rehearsal to familiarize yourself with the routines/performances/lighting so that you will have a better sense of the timing for the dancers. I remember to (at times) having to push the 800 to 1600, the 1600 at times to 3200 to get 125th/sec, in order to stop action as best I could. At other times you may want the movement to show which can be very cool. I love shooting theater as it can provide some dramatic images. (I attached one of my favorites-but not sure I did it right).

    Have fun.
    Matt's Photo Site
    "I invent nothing, I rediscover". Auguste Rodin

  7. #7
    rbarker's Avatar
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    Although I've not actually done stage work myself, it seems to me that the consistent element in the exceptional stage images I've seen has been metering/exposing for the highlights, and letting the shadows fall where they may (translation - fast glass). That, and excellent timing - where it's obvious the photographer was in sync with the rhythm of the presentation, and was thus able to capture just the right moment to convey the story behind the ballet as well as the mood/emotion of the dancers.

    Depending on where you will be located during the performance, it would be good to go there in advance to get a feel for what the compositions will include considering the lenses you'll be using. That way, you can develop at least a skeleton of a plan. Being able to at least meter the areas of the stage in advance would be helpful, too, I'd think. That way, you can set exposure based on the area of the stage being photographed, rather than having to try to meter each shot. Making a little diagram of the light-level zones might be helpful in that respect.
    [COLOR=SlateGray]"You can't depend on your eyes if your imagination is out of focus." -Mark Twain[/COLOR]

    Ralph Barker
    Rio Rancho, NM

  8. #8
    Helen B's Avatar
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    For dance I use either EPJ (EK 320 reversal film balanced for tungsten) normal, pushed one (hardly worth it), two or three stops (desperate measures: no latitude) depending on how much light there is on stage, or Portra 800 normal or pushed two (rating that at 2000, not 3200). I used to use Fuji NPZ before the current version of Portra 800 came out, and I rated that at 1250 or 1600 for push two. I guess that the Press 800 is going to fit into that slot. Don't pinch on the exposure if you want good colour without a blue filter.

    I sometimes use a KB6 (light blue) filter when using daylight neg film in tungsten light, but it's not always necessary. A filter does not add any light, it only takes away - so you can often get the same result by applying a 'filter factor' even though you have no filter on the lens and allowing the film's 'overexposure latitude' to look after the reds. Only when you need all the latitude you can get (eg full range of detail under contrasty lighting) is a fully-correcting filter necessary. It all depends on how you want the final images to look, of course.

    I aim for exposures in the 1/15 to 1/30 range, and an aperture of f/1.4 or f/2. As Ralph says, I expose for the highlights and let the shadows fall where they may. I normally hate the proofs and descend into a pit of despair at my complete lack of skill and talent. For some strange reason everyone else likes them and I get asked back. There's no accounting for people's taste.

    Best,
    Helen

  9. #9
    Nicole's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Helen B
    Don't pinch on the exposure if you want good colour without a blue filter.
    I aim for exposures in the 1/15 to 1/30 range, and an aperture of f/1.4 or f/2. As Ralph says, I expose for the highlights and let the shadows fall where they may. I normally hate the proofs and descend into a pit of despair at my complete lack of skill and talent. For some strange reason everyone else likes them and I get asked back. There's no accounting for people's taste.
    Best,
    Helen
    Great to hear from you again Helen!
    I don't understand what you mean by 'pinch'.
    I'm trying to (if I can get away with it) hand hold most of the shots but if all else fails have my trusty tripod always with me.
    I find tastes have the biggest Circle of Confusion!

    Early warm seasons greetings
    Nicole

  10. #10
    Nicole's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by rbarker
    Depending on where you will be located during the performance, it would be good to go there in advance to get a feel for what the compositions will include considering the lenses you'll be using. That way, you can develop at least a skeleton of a plan. Being able to at least meter the areas of the stage in advance would be helpful, too, I'd think. That way, you can set exposure based on the area of the stage being photographed, rather than having to try to meter each shot. Making a little diagram of the light-level zones might be helpful in that respect.
    I can only shoot at the last full dress rehearsal just before the main event and not at the actual event. Therefore no room for error!
    The good thing about this is I have the freedom to move around and shoot from any location, as long as I'm not on the stage.
    Thank you very much for your thoughts and input. Most appreciated.
    Kind regards,
    Nicole

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