Wednesday, 14 April 2010

It's all about timing!

It's all about timing!
It is Street Festival time! It is great fun both for taking photographs and of course just to enjoy the entertainment in the nice outdoor temperatures.
I went last Friday at 21.00 and stayed for a few different dance shows. It starts however at 20.00 so you can go earlier than I did and if you want to take photographs that might be a good idea so that you can scout out a good vantage point for you and maybe also get up close. I had my 70-200mm L IS f2.8 on my camera so I could stand a bit further away and still get good close up shots…. I had chosen that lens for the evening because of the f2.8. Now in hindsight and already while I was there I realised that my 24-105mm IS f4 might have been a better choice due to me not being able to get a good vantage point from far enough away so I ended up feeling that I was too close to the dancers. Hence the poor belly dancer below looks like she had both her arms chopped off. I was shooting through two very tall men so its their shoulders and heads that are blocking. Those of you that know me know that I am quite tall myself so you can imagine how tall these guys were. You can however get some quite unique shots using other people as props. So don't disregard that. It is always easier using natural props in a shoot than bringing your own along. Less for you to carry as well.
I was shooting only using the stage lighting, which at times did not work so well here because the dancers were not at all times in the spot light making them very dark. The stage light did not seam to move at all with any of the dancers, which was a shame. I had brought my flashes with me but did not want to use them since using a flash on evening events like these often takes away the ambient light that the stage light are creating as well as washing away the colures and that is not very flattering for the dancers.
How to get that amazing shot!
A few steps that you can follow to help you along the way, but as always practice makes perfect!
When taking images of someone that are moving its all about timing! After you have watched the dancers a little bit you might be able to predict a little bit where they are going next and that pre planning helps you with taking a great photograph. Because its all about being in the right place at the right time. 
If you for instance start pressing the shutter when the dancer is looking at you, you will most likely every time get the back of her head. Since by the time that you have pressed the shutter she has already moved. So try to see where she is going before she does so that you can pan with her. 
Here I changed the colour of her scarf above her head to match her dress. It was a boring yellow to start with.
Make sure that your camera is set to taking images in burst mode. (several images after each-other). I also always have only one focus point which at most times is aimed at the head of the dancer. A high ISO helps you when you take images in the dark. I was using an ISO of 500 and 640 while shooting these images (I changed during the night, started with 500 then went to 640). Depending on which camera body you are using you will get different quality results. Some cameras can take very good photographs at very high ISO while the cheaper cameras can not. So check your cameras limit. This is where practice makes perfect comes in try a few different ISO settings and see how good the images are on the computer screen afterwards. Always try to learn from what setting you were using so that you know for next time. My Aperture was between 4.5 and 5f and my Shutter Speed were between 80 to 200 during this event.
If you have any further photography questions please don’t hesitate to contact me and I will try to sort it out for you.
Happy Shooting everyone.


  1. What a great idea to do a tutorial with your beautiful images! Great job!

  2. Hi Valerie,
    Thanks I had a photography enthusiast friend that have just gotten his first DSLR and he was asking me questions on how to take good night photographs in a bar etc. the other day and I figured that there are probably more people wondering the same thing. Not that I went into great detail in how to shoot an evening event which could be a long subject all by itself really. But at least somewhere for people to know where to start. I am a big believer in trial and error that is how you learn.