Steven Brokaw Photography

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Tormented Soul
f/2.5, 1/125, 35mm, ISO 800
One of my favorite venues to photograph is the Gregory Hancock Dance Theatre. They are a resident dance troupe that recently relocated to the Tarkington Theater at the Center for the Performing Arts  located in Carmel, Indiana.  The Indianapolis based Photo Venture CameraClub gets the opportunity to shoot the GHDT during their dress rehearsals. We had such an opportunity this past week for the showing of “My Gypsy Soul”. The performance “Traced the footprints of the gypsies from India to Spain. Music was featured from Romania, Russia, Bulgaria, Serbia, Greece, India, Ireland, Portugal, Spain, and Africa".

Let’s see; low light photography - check, contemporary music - check, motion & movement - check, vivid colors - check, challenging photography setting - check. You guessed it, I was in photographic heaven.

Red Leap Three
f/2.5, 1/100, 70mm, ISO 800

Flying Blue Three
f/4.5, 1/100, 70mm, ISO 1250
As you probably know from my blog posts and photo sessions (non-studio based) I migrate to after dark or low light settings.  This was no different.  I was shooting in full manual for this shoot.  I did research prior to the shoot to best determine the white balance to us.  As I’ve mentioned previously, even if you shoot RAW I don’t advise using auto white balance.  Shooting in auto white balance may require an extra step in post processing to correct or tune.  For this shoot I knew there would be lots of mixed color lights accompanied with a single or multiple bright, focused, white spot lights.  Therefore, I set my white balance at 4760K (kelvin).  All shots were taken with this white balance.  I think I hit the sweet spot with this white balance setting because I didn’t have to make a single white balance adjustment in post processing.

In Flight
f/2.8, 1/100, 70mm, ISO 800
Also, because I wanted to get as much freeze action during this shoot I had my shutter speed set at 1/100 of a second in almost all shots.  On a couple of shots with my brighter lens I did go to 1/80, but also at times I shot at 1/125.  I did set my exposure compensation at +0.7EV on all shots.  This allowed me to brighten the photos a bit.  Also, what is a bit unusual for me, I shot at center weighted metering.  Normally, I shoot matrix metering, but tonight I wanted to meter off my subject knowing there was going to be lots of dark negative space.  I didn’t want to blow out (over-expose) my subjects of focus.  Finally, I set my ISO last.  I started off setting my camera at ISO 2500, but found with the mentioned settings, the distance from the action, the quality of the lighting I was able to quickly move to ISO 1600 for most shots, and believe it or not with my f/1.4 & f/1.8 lens I was able to get to ISO 800.  I have shot LOTS of low light images before, and I have never been able to hit 1/100 of a second with ISO 800.  This says quite a bit for the quality of the light.

Finally, I shot most of my photos with my AF-S Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8G ED lens (I think I’ve told you before this lens is UBER), but I also used my AF-S Nikkor 50mm f/1.4G prime (also UBER), and my AF-S Nikkor35mm f/1.8G prime (oh yes, UBER as well).  I found the 35mm was more useful focal length than my 50mm for this shoot since I wanted to get a bit wider angle and I was shooting with a DX sensor.

Silhouette on Orange
f/3.2, 1/100, 70mm, ISO 2000

Leaping Blue
f/2.5, 1/125, 50mm, ISO 1000
With these settings I was set up about 20 feet from the stage but eye level with the dancers.  On stage the dancers were probably no less than 30 feet away.  All shots were hand held, and I spent most of the night either focusing on the entire stage or following and panning on a specific dancer.  I also wanted to capture images of dancers at the top of their leaps.  I ended up taking about 1,600 images over approximately 2 hours.  All images were processed in Adobe Lightroom 3.5 and a few had additional processing in Adobe Photoshop CS5 Extended.

Bottomline, I really enjoyed myself and have lots of images that I will share with the GHDT.

David Robillard's Video - Time

Scott Kelby Worldwide Photowalk