Shout out to Dance Olympus/Dance America for keeping it real.

We have been traveling to dance competitions for the past ten years now, and I continually hear the same thing when it comes to capturing photographs of my girls – “no photos allowed to protect the dancers and the choreography of the dances”. While I have yet to understand how you can figure out choreography from stills, I do agree with trying to protect the dancers. Some joe schmo off the street walks in and starts popping away at the kids, not cool.  While I have mentioned this a few times, restraint and respect has curtailed me from unleashing a spree about the competitions only using this as an excuse to get more money from their attendees by selling them pictures. Which has led me to take a stance of refusing to purchase photos from any of them. Me taking photos of my team will not affect their sales in the least.  As much as this has infuriated me, I have dealt with it and not captured the girls on stage. Openly anyway.

I would like to give a big shout out to the folks at Dance America/Dance Olympus for keeping it real and allowing photography during their events. Their rules are No Video – makes perfect sense as this is how choreography really gets stolen, and no flash.  Absolutely agree there. Despise the use of flash when performing. We used to attend their events every year, and then the past three years or so the studio has had scheduling conflicts coinciding with the DA/DO events. The folks put on a very professional show and the last day is all workshops, which are required of dancers that compete. This is how you make money the right way. I will pay for good education any day. This organization allows me to do my thing, help promote our studio and give the girls a few chuckles while they look at their faces on the back of the camera.

As my daughter and her teammates have grown as dancers, I have grown as a photographer. I owe so much to them, many were my guinea pigs while I learned how to shoot in the studio. Each year we create a book for the dance school from whatever has been recorded, and a few of my prints even grace the walls. As I am sure someone is wondering about this, yes, I have full consent from the parents and our director.

And that is what I do, document our year. It is never easy capturing these dances, a style of shooting I am a bit rusty with. I did “cheat” during the solos and changed bodies to my high-speed crop sensor. When your environment is uncontrolled it is a must. If I was head on and had no distracting objects in my path perhaps I would have made a different decision. Eh, Probably not. Use the tools you have, that is what they are for. I was talking iso with  one of my music photographer friends and he was surprised when I told him that for my music stuff I am always at 5000. I can, it works for me so I do. The dance stuff I never go above 2500, especially with the crop body. Normally hanging around 2000 for this stuff as long as I can keep a decent shutter speed.

Our next competition that policy is in place so I will be gritting my teeth the whole weekend while I deal with that inane rule. My plea would be for the organizations who have this policy to state what it really means instead of hiding behind the attendees. The only thing that is being protected is the company that is selling the photos of a public event in a public place.

Well, I ended up teetering just a little bit there. Do not want to get carried away, so I am going to leave it be.

A few more from the fun filled weekend. This first dancer is the youngest on the team, she put in an outstanding solo hiding behind that mask. I get the feeling she has no idea how good she really is.

I have always loved those looks when you can tell they are fully immersed and invested in the number. Combined with the right music, it often will bring me to fatherly tears of joy. Yup, I admitted it.  My wife says I am a sap….  So be it.

Managed to capture one or two of the daughter that will be going on our walls. “But my arm is not straight” she says, exactly why it works. It is funny when they critique themselves though photos. Don’t do it. At the pinnacle of your movement it may have been perfect, I just did not record that point. Look at the video the organization is going to send you to do a critique. Just enjoy what we have in stills, and don’t worry, the bad ones do get deleted.

Thanks for stopping by!

Phil

 

A Mighty Tally for the Dance Team

What a fantastic weekend! The dance school had 15 numbers in their latest regional competition held in NYC – The total tally was 12 Firsts, two seconds, one third, Best Costume, Overall top score Large Group, First runner up high score small group  and second high score runner up for Line.

Fourteen dance schools gathered in Brooklyn for this regional competition. All of our dances were in one day which meant a very long day for the team. The first one kicked off at 08:15 and the last one went on at 21:15.  I was exhausted by the end and all I did was take pictures of them, I can only imagine how they felt. Our daughter was in six of those dances including the first one and the last one but her adrenaline was still going at 23:30. Ah to be young again….

I was chided by my wife for not getting many pictures of our daughter during one particular dance but here’s the thing – when I am shooting them I do not look at who they are, I look at how they are. Body positions, expressions, groupings and lighting. There are those dancers though who always seem to be in my frame though and some who do not make it in. I try and spread the shots out to get everyone, but it is difficult at times isolating one person in a crowd of moving dancers.

A shout out to the mom’s who help with the costume changes! Their day can be as stressful as the dancer’s.

Lets get to it!

1st place in category and winner of Best Costume.

135mm, f2.8, 1/250, iso 1250

I shot a 135 mm prime lens for the majority of the day and I think I went more vertical than horizontal because I was close to the stage. I love that lens, It is fast, crisp and clean. I so desire the infamous 70-200 2.8 IS but a bit out of budget for me at the moment.  I did alter my position in the room for a couple of the small groups and used a 200 mm prime but the light fall off was not too my liking so I reclaimed my spot against the wall, stage right within the first ten rows. I managed to get myself into the front row during the last two hours and used the 24-105 f4 for some wider takes.

It has proven very difficult to chose a favorite picture from the weekend but this one is definitely in the running. Form, texture and emotion! And my slightly bohked out daughter in the background.

Enchanted pSpThis next dance screamed black and white so I tinkered with a black and white conversion in Lightroom. One of our new dancers made this shot rock!

109 BW

And I should include my daughter here too…Love the expressions…The dance is called Monsters.

B BW

When we had a break of more than 90 minutes I cleared my card, putting the pictures on the laptop and external hard drive. Naturally once they go on a computer you want to see how they look, then you see some that you really like, then you edit those and of course once that is done might as well get them up for the parents and team to see. I was hoping this would generate some excitement for everyone. This is the first time I have turned around the shots that quick. I was also much more selective than last year in depressing the button so I did not take as many shots. I will admit that once I got home and viewed the posted ones on a desktop there are some that you can tell were quick edits on a small screen. I am currently going through everything on the desktop for full viewing pleasure.

This shot is from the rear of the room with the 200. Not quite as clean as the ones from the front. This is one of my favorite dances and one of the ones I will be keying in on for our next competition.

MorClau

And another with the 200 from the first dance after I changed, looks like I was not dialed in quite yet. The shutter speed was too slow so we can see some motion blur here.

Car

While I love my prime lenses it does prove difficult to compose in tight quarters with action. A few shots I have were great except a hand would be missing, or the feet, but live and learn for every press of the shutter is a new learning experience for me and one that I can build on for the next time.

This next dance the had the highest overall score for large groups, first place in its category and brought warmth to a cold and snowy day. It also had the judges overjoyed because the girls incorporated their props into their routine which apparently does not happen that often. This competition has the judges and the audience all on one level, the stage is elevated about three feet off the ground, so heads are always in the way and I am constantly cursing at them. This is also the reason I prefer to shoot at an angle at this venue and do my best to avoid said heads in the way.

Summer

Much like any event you see a little bit of everything at these competitions – I will leave you with this…..

First I must preface this by saying….

It is not our dance….

Check out the shoes…..

Dance competition right????     speechless…..

Shoes

Thanks for stopping by! Till next time…