Low Light Dancing on Stage

Discussion in 'Beyond the Basics' started by B Kennedy, May 29, 2009.

  1. B Kennedy

    B Kennedy TPF Noob!

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    So I have this dance collage end of the year show to photograph this weekend. I don't use a flash and in the past have just shot on manual settings. My question is do you think it would be easier to shoot on say shutter priority mode during this? The lighting I get is off the stage lighting, so many times the lighting is constantly changing, as do the dancers as they do their thing. I'm used to switching on the fly between the aperature and shutter with the iso having already been set, but I really havent gotten into aperature or priority modes. Any advice?
     
  2. PhotoXopher

    PhotoXopher TPF Noob!

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    Manual mode, fast glass and auto ISO would be my choice for this kind of work.

    1. You don't want to overpower the stage lighting by having your aperture too open so I'm not sure how well shutter priority would work. (Faster speed, open aperture.)

    2. You don't want blur from too slow of a shutter speed so I'm not sure how well aperture priority would work. (Less light, slower speed.)

    I think your best bet might be to have a happy medium and adjust from there, set your shutter to at least 1/500 and then just open/close the aperture to your liking.

    Just a guess based on my limited experience in these types of conditions (Disney on Ice for example.)
     
  3. Big Mike

    Big Mike I am Big, I am Mike Staff Member Supporting Member

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    To me, aperture and shutter priority modes serve the same purpose and it doesn't really matter which mode you are in. If you need a faster shutter to freeze movement, you can use Tv and set a higher shutter speed, or you could just set a wider aperture, knowing that it will give you a faster shutter speed.

    Personally, I prefer to use aperture priority (Av) because I'm then I'm unlikely to 'hit the wall'. The shutter speed is a lot more variable that the aperture. For example, if you are shooting dancers and you use Tv and set a speed of 1/250, you might be limited by the max aperture...in which case, the camera may blink the numbers or just under expose the shot. If, however, you use Av and set your maximum aperture, the shutter speed will be the fastest for that light & ISO (according to the camera's meter).

    Of course, if you use manual mode, you can bypass the camera's meter, which is likely to be fooled by the stage lighting.
     
  4. msf

    msf TPF Noob!

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    I think its preferable to be underexposed than to have motion blur, so I would suggest setting the shutter speed to something that you like, between 1/200 and 1/500 perhaps, and then see what the light meter gives you for aperature, then adjust the iso accordingly, finally confirming by the histogram. If the results are constant, perhaps just use those settings in manual.

    Fast glass is a must.

    I have a similiar event coming up next month. The ballet instructor doesnt expect any shots from the performance because its low light and flashes are not allowed. I hope to wow her, and her students after the show. :)

    The nice thing about having an underexposed picture is you can boost the exposure some in the raw converter, then in photoshop, you can bring even more detail out with the shadows/highlights tool. And if you have to and probably will, reduce the noise with helicon or noise ninja. Ive been recommended noise ninja so this will be my chance to try it out, and probably end up buying the plugin version for photoshop so I can batch process all the images.

    Of course some motion blur shots will be good to have, as an artistic effect.

    I plan to use my 50mm F1.8 and 85mm F1.8 lenses at the performance. Im trying to figure out if I need a long fast lens or a wider fast lens. Its tempting to rent the 50 F1.4L lens, but instead I was thinking about buying the 28 F2.8 lens, its only $200. Or perhaps the 135 F2.8.

    Its events like this that I wish I had the Canon 5d Mark II with its incredably high iso range, and apperantly low noise levels. Or even the Canon 50d.
     
  5. msf

    msf TPF Noob!

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    Hmm, flash isnt allowed, but I doubt the parents will follow that rule. Perhaps I could give some of them a wireless flash to hold for me, so they get the blame and I get the result *smirks*.
     
  6. B Kennedy

    B Kennedy TPF Noob!

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    Thanks for all the advice, lots to comment on so here goes.
    Im gonna be shooting with the 5dm2 and 70-200is 2.8 I pretty much roll back and forth in front of the first row. Most parents don't take pictures as even with a flash on most poitn and shoots, they don't come out.
    Noize -- I'll have to see what the lighting will be like, but I'm pretty sure I won't come close to 1/500. The last recital I photographed with the 70-200 at 2.8 & the 30d set to iso 1600 (lots of noise reduced with noise ninja) and shot at 1/100 at 2.8. see the attached picture. So we'll see what the 5d can do with me pushing the iso to maybe around 3200, and ill check out 6400 as well. But this pic was by far one of my best shots that I think i was lucky to capture her and the lighting just right.

    Definitely not going to be shooting raw, as I'll prolly end up with a couple thousand pics and theres no way im gonna be editting raw...lol I'd shoot myself. And I guess one of the biggest challenges is that the lighting intensity is constantly changing and the dancers aren't always right in the direct light, so theres a lot of quick changes that you gotta make. I think I'm gonna go with what you said Mike about just setting to 2.8 and iso up there, and then just adjust my shutter. I'm sure that way will be better to just go manual so that the camera doesnt fool itself.

    msf- I will say though that I was shooting from around 15-20 ft from where teh dancers were because there was a lot of things going on right in front of the stage, so I would definitely recommend the zoom cause the parents love those nice up close shots. The pic I attached was right around 145mm. My gf this time around is goign to concentrate on the wider pics with the 24-70 f2.8 and get more of the zoomed out shots of the scene's.

    Thanks for all the replies it really helped me out
     

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