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FORUMS Photography Talk by Genre Performing Arts Talk 
Thread started 26 Feb 2016 (Friday) 08:27
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Newbie at shooting ballroom dance competition - need advise on gear and camera

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Joined Feb 2016
Post edited over 2 years ago by alelena2005.
Feb 26, 2016 08:27 |  #1

Hi there, Im a newbie at shooting ballroom competitions...(and I'm not a pro photographer) so I would be curious to learn what gear and what camera settings other photographers use when shooting dance? Greatly appreciate all advises, links, camera settings along with images. Thnx PS.Forgot to mention - my daughter is at the ballroom dance school and will be performing soon at her third competition I would love to have a great shots w/o motion blur or grain.

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dumb remark memorialized
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Feb 26, 2016 09:26 |  #2

What is your photography experience? The equipment to shoot ballroom effectively is expensive and there is considerable skill involved.

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Joined Feb 2016
Post edited over 2 years ago by alelena2005.
Feb 26, 2016 10:00 as a reply to  @ gonzogolf's post |  #3

I've been shooting for about few years now, mostly kids, families and bday parties.
My equipment - Nikon D5000, Sigma 17-50 2.8, Nikkor 50mm 1.8, Nikkor 85mm 1.8, and Nikkor 18-200 3.5. I have SB-700 speed light and 1 AlienBee400 with a tripod. This is my latest shot at the dance rehearsal - it is grainy so I had to fix it it LR which helped a bit but its not as sharp as I want it to be. My settings were def off :(

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Cream of the Crop
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Mar 07, 2016 09:00 |  #4

The issue with this one is relatively complex - you're combining the exposure from the ambient with the exposure from the flash, which simply doesn't work for this style of shot.

The movement through the 1/60 shutter duration gives a fair amount of motion blur, then the exposure from the (instantaneous) flash freezes the movement. That's why you get that "ghost" effect, the smeary halos around the subjects. That's the exposure from the ambient.

To correct this:
The easy solution is to increase the shutter speed considerably. To sync to the AB, you'll probably max out at about 1/200.
As long as you don't exceed the max sync speed (1/200), the flash doesn't care how long the shutter is open; its contribution to the exposure will be the same.

Increasing the shutter speed will accomplish two things: Less exposure from the ambient light, and less motion blur. Changing nothing else, making this one change will greatly reduce the amount of smearing/ghosting that you get from the subjects.

However, if you're relying solely on the flash(es), you'll need to consider illumination for the rest of the room. Are your flashes arranged in such a way that the subjects AND the room are illuminated the way you like?

If you're relying solely on the flashes, you can turn up the flash power and decrease your ISO. This will reduce some noise, but you'll have a longer recycle time and use up your batteries faster.

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Cream of the Crop
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Mar 08, 2016 02:44 |  #5

Practice shooting at home. I'd suggest ramping up your ISO to 3200 but use fill flash. This will reduce flash power output and faster recycle times. Use hybrid batteries like sanyo eneloops or even black Amazon basic 2400 mah AA batteries in your speedlight. Shoot your sigma zoom at f/2.8 or even f/4 if you want to focus on your daughter more than the room's environment.

If you room is well it and you had a wide fast prime lens you could try to shoot in aperture priority with ISO 3200 or higher and use fill flash (iTTL). That would increase your shutter speed to prevent motion blur.

You should be able to clean up the noise in post processing with good results.

Keep things simple and pay more attention to documentation. You can always uplift shadows in lightroom if the room is dark.

Your max flash sync is 1/200 so set your shutter speed to that...... The flash will stop action so you should be able to stop action and prevent motion blur.

Is the room well lit?? Camera settings is very dependent on the environment. Many factors are involved.

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Apr 12, 2016 11:29 |  #6

Just seeing this thread now. Wondering if you shot her comp yet and how it went. If you haven't, the one edge you have is that you have most likely seen her routine a few times. This gives you an advantage of know when the pauses is going to happen and which direction she will be facing so you can get a better angle in advance.

Good Luck.

---------------Camera, Lens, Flash stuff.. but still wanting more

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May 02, 2016 19:57 |  #7

I imagine flash will not be permitted during the competition. The flash can blind the dancers as they are spotting, and really put them off on their turns. It can be dangerous, and distract them, which can mean the difference between winning and losing! I shoot a lot of dance. My girls are ballerinas, so in-class observations, on stage in productions, on stage in competitions, and on stage in high school productions.

I try to keep my shutter around 320, 250 the slowest. I shoot wide open with a 2.8 lens, I have a 50mm 1.8 but I don't get close enough to use that lens. The lighting changes on me so much, I have recently started to shoot in auto ISO, and in TV mode, so that the shutter doesn't change, but the aperture will adjust if the spotlights give me too much light. I also do spot metering, so that the back grounds, and the rest of the stage don't influence the meter.

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Newbie at shooting ballroom dance competition - need advise on gear and camera
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