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FORUMS Photography Talk by Genre Performing Arts Talk 
Thread started 12 Mar 2012 (Monday) 07:56
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Dance Portraits - Tips

 
sethmo
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Mar 12, 2012 07:56 |  #1

So I took pictures for my friends dance studio last year and the pictures went ok, what did not go ok was the amount of editing I had to do. She asked me again this year to take pictures and I need some help on choosing a background and any other tips.

The problem with editing was that I used a gray seamless background and it showed so many footprints and fuzzies from costumes, they looked terrible so I had to edit them out on a lot of pictures. I wish I would have noticed it at the time, I would have swept them away.

Anywhere, here is the venue and last years setup:

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A few samples. Groups are usually shot against the brick, individuals against the background. I threw a tinted muslin overlay over the gray seamless and cloned footprints and fuzzies on a lot of pictures. I did not have any complaints from parents, but I was not too happy with the end result.

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westernphotopro
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Mar 12, 2012 08:11 |  #2

Aside from needing to edit the ground, what don't you like about the images?
Would, perhaps, a black seamless be better? I've had to shoot these before, and although it's not my favorite background, a muslin of some sort tends to work well at hiding any footprints. Plus they are very durable. Problem is, they are super expensive and rarely able to be used twice for the same annual event.




  
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trythis
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Oct 24, 2012 12:12 |  #3

I would prefer the portraits to be against the brick wall.


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iracting
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Dec 19, 2012 22:17 |  #4

This is what I think...Try standing back a bit further and zooming in on the subject. Also bring the model forward about two feet from the backdrop. That should blur your background a bit while leaving the subject nice and sharp. The portraits are a little dark so Add a hair light to the set up or light the background or use a white seamless and blow it out. Finally make sure you are shooting at the models waist level. Focus on the eyes and drag the camera back to waist level. Shooting from a high angle is great for a portrait but when you take a full length shot you shorten the legs. Good luck. It looks like a great place to shoot.


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nathancarter
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Dec 20, 2012 12:07 |  #5

Agree with most of the above. Ditch the backdrop except for headshots; shoot against the brick wall and on the wooden stage if that's their usual venue. More importantly, stand farther away, use a longer focal length, and shoot from waist-height to minimize or eliminate distortion. You've got plenty of room to work in that venue, so use it.

For some of the more skilled dancers, get some action shots. Use a single bare light to freeze them mid-leap and cast an interesting shadow on the wall. Or, a soft light from the front and a hard edge light from the back.

Alternate group shot: Have the dancers stand in a line on the edge of the stage facing the audience. Put the camera on the floor at the back of the stage, put a single bare Speedlight high up in the audience seats. Use a wide-angle if you must to get all the people in the shot. You'll get a cool group silhouette with long shadows thrown onto the stage.

Personal nitpick? Make sure the camera sensor is perfectly parallel to the wall. In your group photo, see how the bricks at the top are angled down, even though the "horizon" at the back of the stage is level. Take a step to the right and turn the camera a smidge left, to eliminate this effect. Standing farther away will make things easier.

I went above-and-beyond with the portraits for my wife's dance group, building a big backdrop and set and lots of props for their portrait session early this summer. Then in October, due to space/time/logistics constraints, I did portraits of the Rocky Horror cast against the brick wall in the alley behind the theatre. Both worked, for different reasons.
... I'll see if I can post some of those when I get home, to give you some ideas. My lighting and editing style might not be appropriate for a kids' dance studio, though.


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nathancarter
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Dec 20, 2012 16:44 |  #6

Followup. Here are some examples that might get you some inspiration.

For the portrait shoot for our dance troupe, here's the set we made in the venue. The troupe name is Moxie le Femme, and the shoot was themed around the Circus show we had in August - hence the styling. The brick wall behind the backdrop is very similar to your brick wall.

IMAGE: http://farm8.staticflickr.com/7136/7417961214_a1b5025596_o.jpg
IMAGE LINK: http://www.flickr.com …/nathancarter/7​417961214/  (external link)
Circus.20120618.0724.j​pg (external link) by nathancarter (external link), on Flickr

Standing against the back wall with my 70-200. The camera is on a tripod at about shoulder height on the floor, but the performers are on the raised stage, so the camera is about waist level to them.

IMAGE: http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8167/7411215910_e11015a1aa_o.jpg
IMAGE LINK: http://www.flickr.com …/nathancarter/7​411215910/  (external link)
Circus.20120618.0705.j​pg (external link) by nathancarter (external link), on Flickr

A little closer with the 50mm prime:

IMAGE: http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8003/7411212940_aa46821645_o.jpg
IMAGE LINK: http://www.flickr.com …/nathancarter/7​411212940/  (external link)
Circus.20120617.0323.j​pg (external link) by nathancarter (external link), on Flickr

Up close with the 14mm (EXIF still says 50mm because the lens has no electronics)

IMAGE: http://farm8.staticflickr.com/7121/7417947614_8e1489e2b5_o.jpg
IMAGE LINK: http://www.flickr.com …/nathancarter/7​417947614/  (external link)
Circus.20120618.0747.j​pg (external link) by nathancarter (external link), on Flickr

Using the flash to stop action:

IMAGE: http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8167/7529643328_dfecff0a0b_o.jpg
IMAGE LINK: http://www.flickr.com …/nathancarter/7​529643328/  (external link)
Circus.20120618.0722.j​pg (external link) by nathancarter (external link), on Flickr


And, here are some from the Rocky Horror show, with the brick wall backdrop. This is outside in the alley on a very windy evening - too windy for umbrellas, so I just used two bare Speedlights. You'll have more flexibility with your modifiers shooting inside. Remember that a bare light will give a defined shadow as seen here; a small modifier will dive a diffuse shadow; a large modifier (umbrella) will give almost no defined shadow (like your shots from last year).

The two hard lights and the contrasty processing probably aren't what you want for kids, but using an umbrella up front and a different style of processing will give quite a different look.

One of the things to take away from here - and it seems like you got it down already with your backdrop shots - is to get some space between your subject and the backdrop. People will want to gravitate to put their backs against the wall. I stick a little blue piece of painter's tape on the floor where I want them - 4-5 feet in front of the wall, if I have the space - and say "There's your mark, put one foot on that dot t all times."

Opinion: you have plenty of lights, so get a little hair or rim light in there. Doesn't have to be much.


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RHPS_20121026_0059.jpg (external link) by nathancarter (external link), on Flickr

IMAGE: http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8047/8136974338_4b4fbab9cb_o.jpg
IMAGE LINK: http://www.flickr.com …/nathancarter/8​136974338/  (external link)
RHPS_20121026_0050.jpg (external link) by nathancarter (external link), on Flickr

IMAGE: http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8047/8136933573_ebc0286e63_o.jpg
IMAGE LINK: http://www.flickr.com …/nathancarter/8​136933573/  (external link)
RHPS_20121026_9993.jpg (external link) by nathancarter (external link), on Flickr

Yeah, I'm going against my own advice on getting the camera parallel to the wall, ha ha.

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Gweebs
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Feb 14, 2013 05:33 |  #7

Great photo's...


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Dance Portraits - Tips
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