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Photography Advice


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#1 mnclimber

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Posted 20 October 2006 - 08:50 AM

Hello everyone,

First of all, not totally sure if this is the right place to post this or not, so I apologize if it is not.

I've had some conversations with the artistic director of a local ballet company (Continental Ballet in Bloomington) about taking pictures at some rehearsals, and it sounds like I'm going to get a chance to try it. I have a decent camera (Nikon D70), and have been sucessful taking shots of landscapes and weddings that have been printed and are hanging. But I've never tried anything like ballet or any sort of dance really. I know there are some on here that have taken beautiful pictures of ballet and of course there are lots of very knowledgable people here. I've definitely been looking in that other thread about favorite photographers to try to get an idea of what people like in photos of ballet. But if anyone could offer other suggestions or advice, also some technical advice about lenses...thoughts on focal length??

Thanks in advance for anything!!!

Thanks,
Mike

#2 koshka

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Posted 25 October 2006 - 09:27 AM

I got a D70 last year (sadly, it is in the shop right now) and it totally changed my ability to do in-studio photos.

Obviously you won't be using flash (riiiiiight???).

Couple of things:

1. Use the custom white balance.
2. Will you be working with available light, or will you have additional light? And are we talking about stage photos or studio photos?

Studio photos with no extra light are the hardest. The more natural light you have, the better off you'll be--nothing beats natural light in both quality and quantity. Again, set the custom white balance.
Lenses: use the fastest (largest aperture/smallest f-stop) you can. I generally use a 50/1.7, and even that can be a bit close. But it's a lens that works well and is inexpensive (~ $100) if you don't already have one.
If you are used to doing indoor wedding shots without flash, you'll know how it all works. If not, just be aware that indoor action shots with available light tend to be...challenging.

Stage photos are a bit easier becauser there is (usually) more light. For stage / backstage photos my preferred lens is an 85/1.8, which is a bit pricier (~$300, I think), but a very good length. I also sometimes use a 70-200/2.8, but that lens is quite heavy, not quite as quick to focus, and produces images that are not as sharp.

The zoom lens often supplied with the D70, the 18-55, is a good range in terms of focal length but the apertures are no good unless you have an enormous amount of light.

Speed: 250 is good, though it does not usually totally freeze action.

Shots/composition: this is really trial and error. Timing is critical. Digital is nice this way, though: the learning curve is much faster. You'll learn soon enough about timing and composition (For example, with all but a very few dancers, I find it impossible to get an attractive photo of a pirouette.) Also, if you have the opportunity to show the pics to the dancers and/or AD, they can give you some feedback too.

Enjoy!

#3 mnclimber

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Posted 25 October 2006 - 11:42 AM

Hey Koshka, thanks for the reply,

Correct, I'm not planning on even bringing my flash. I don't currently have a lense faster than the kit lense (18-70 3.5, which I agree with your comment - no good without lots of light), but I've intended on getting a faster prime, just haven't been able to decide between the 50 and the 85, you mentioned both...which would you think is better to start with if I'm only going to get one of those??

I'm really not sure right now if I'll be in their studio or in the theater when/if the AD lets me come in and give this a shot.

Most of my experience shooting is landscape, so this will definitely be a change for me. I have done a couple of wedding, with varied success.

Oh, and I guess rereading your comments...if it's in studio you'd usually use the 50 and on stage the 85??

What happened to you camera to have to get sent in?? I've had mine in once so far (had it for about 2 year/~11000 shutter clicks), the LCD on the top decided to go all goofy on me, but it was covered under the 2 year warranty!!

Thanks!
Mike

Edit - I actually forgot that there is a flash on the camera..yeah, I don't intend on using a flash at all. And white balance, I generally shoot in RAW, so that I can change that later.

#4 koshka

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Posted 26 October 2006 - 09:05 AM

I'd start with the 50 lens--it's a great all-around indoor lens--small, decent focal length, and dirt cheap.
You'll get a lot of use out of it in other settings as well.

The 85 is also very nice, but a bit more expensive, bigger, heavier, etc. Seriously, I'd try to get both, but if you really, really had to have just one right now, the 50 is probably a bit more versatile.

My camera just started flashing "Err" (not fEE, but Err) and the shutter would not release. I've had it 20 months (don't even know how many clicks). I thought the warranty was only a year, but I've also heard that this problem seems to be a manufacturing defect and Nikon is doing the repair for free. We'll see...

BTW I see from the site that at least one of the studios has huge windows, so there just might be enough light (during the day!) for the kit lens. In the theater it will (likely) be impossible, though.

#5 mnclimber

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Posted 26 October 2006 - 10:13 AM

Koshka,

Thanks again for replying.

I've been looking at and wanting a faster prime lense for a while, just haven't been able to decide. Mostly between the 50, 85 and even the 105. It seems like everytime I've decided I should get the 50 (as you said, seems like it would be a nice focal length and all), I look at how I use my 18-70 and it seems like I'm on the 70 end a lot. So then I start thinking I should get the 85.

Anyway...I'll have to talk with my wife and see if I can maybe get both. I know she won't have a problem with one or the other.

Is that the "blinking green light of death" problem that I've read about?? Seems to be relatively common?? And I should've mentioned...I bought an extended warranty from the dealer, that's why I had a two year instead of one.

You have any of your pics online??

Thanks again for the advice!
Mike

#6 koshka

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Posted 27 October 2006 - 08:42 AM

I'm not sure if my camera has the pure BGLOD problem, but it seems to suffer from the same syndrome.

Here are a few of my photos of gymnastics (yes, they are mine, even though the copyright is for the gym--they are supposed to be correcting that...)

With 180/2.8 and tv lighting:
http://www.will-moor...mps06/index.htm

With 85/1.8 and hideous lighting:
http://www.will-moor...20eve/index.htm

BTW I think the 50 and 85 together cost rather less than the 105 (if you're looking for a justification to get both). Also, I'd think about what focal length you tend to end up using indoors with people, rather than outdoors/landscape, where there tends to be more distance.

I'd be inclined to start with the 50 just because it's such a basic lens and so inexpensive. It is really perfect for indoor people shots (w/o flash)--it's my default for pictures of friends and family. Then I might think hard about whether you want to go for the 85 or the 105 (though I'm very pleased with my existing combination of 85/1.8 and 180/2.8--I find that they actually cover the range of indoor settings pretty well assuming at least a little latitude in your position.)

As far as I know, very few of my dance photos are online--I haven't bothered to put them up. The gymnastics photos were put up by the gym after I sent them a cd (I am not very possessive...).

#7 mnclimber

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Posted 31 October 2006 - 05:54 AM

Hopefully you get your camera back quickly and it's working good as new when you do!! It's not fun being without your camera!!

I liked all of your pictures!! It is too bad with the lighting on the second one though!!

Thanks again for your replies and suggestions!! Now to just get the time to get into the store and look at the lenses...

Thanks!
Mike


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