On the Spot

I have been sitting on my dance pictures that were taken during nationals almost a month now. Overall I was less than pleased with how they came out so I have been dwelling on the why’s and how’s, trying to figure out where I went wrong. The majority of them are good from afar, but far from good. I have been giving a couple hundred shots to the school the past two years but this batch just did not make the cut. There were some good ones but I do not think I would be confident to print any of them. For Facebook? Sure! Makes for some very happy dancers and parents of dancers too!

I like the composition and color but there is distortion in the faces especially around the eyes. I was using a 135mm f2 lens for 95% of the shots. This is handheld at 2.2, 1/400 and an iso of 800.  In camera metering was good. Focus looks good, you can even discern the wrinkles on the backdrop…. I used this lens at one of those outdoor adventure type races and it did a really good job so I conclude that it was me and my settings and that nasty blue background.

So my thoughts are this, ISO was too low, background was messing with the focus point, should have tried spot metering. I like to shoot these at around 1/500. So the moral of the story is do not always trust what your camera tells you. Of course all the educational material I take in says that too but mostly for outdoor stuff as indoor metering is a totally different animal. I will also be trying a Mono-pod next year when we start up again. I do not own a light meter, not sure that would help in these events anyway.

This is from our recital, iso was at 1600, I can see the eyes clearly. Although I was much closer to the stage for this. The thing is I had an f4 going and at 1/200 to boot. I looked back at photos for our first competition in February and I was very thrilled with those shots. I had an iso of 2000 set. Everything was crystal clear. Fortunately the camera I have is forgiving with those high numbers. Some of those pictures are on my Flickr page. Just click on the link!!

So now it is time for some off camera flash. Have to start simple and understand the settings adapted to the area i am using. Again, all manual so far. I think this will give me a quicker and more comprehensive understanding of how to set everything up.  I was experimenting the other night with the upcoming birthday girl. Nothing fancy, just two flashes through umbrellas. Her last days before she hits the teenage years…..Lord help me. Till next time!



A whirlwind of a week. I recently returned from a week in Disney on what I would call a pseudo vacation > Yes, It was time off, time away from home but we were there for a purpose. My daughters dance team qualified for the National finals held at the Coronado Springs Resort. We ended up having a very successful 4 days of competition. By the time the weekend arrived we were exhausted, but still managed to get in some park time.

I always take LOTS of pictures of the dances, trying to get that perfect action shot. This time around though  I wanted to concentrate on the emotions of the dancers during their routines as well as the compositions and lines of the dancers.  This is not the easiest thing to do when you are half way back in the hall even with a 200mm lens. iso’s of 1600, f2, f2.8, while trying to maintain a shutter speed of 1/400 or more. I seem to be having a problem getting the face crisp, but the rest of the shots are good. I will be experimenting with a monopod come regional time next year to see if that makes a difference.  Even though the wireless was very spotty I did manage to post a “photo of the day” for each of the days we were dancing. This one is from day two.


Naturally I took many shots of the surroundings, the parks and Britt meeting the Disney characters. Our resort had a large lake which provided me with some outstanding opportunities since there were ample amounts of large trees surrounding it.


I have been toying with HDR imaging over the past month and debating on trying a few photos using that process. Other than cropping and straightening I am currently not a believer in post editing and while I do own a couple of software editing programs I have no idea how to use them yet. I am sure the time will come when I must but for now the purist in me wins. HDR is just another tool, combining different exposures into one image, it provides a more artsy feel. Notice – I did not say artistic. Artistic is in the composition, artsy is in the manipulation. If my first result is any indication, I may have to explore this HDR outlet a bit more. All for now.