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In this installment of the Lighting with Flash series, photographer and Strobist.com publisher David Hobby demonstrates using strobes to freeze action while capturing the strength and grace of a dancer in motion. After working through the lighting challenges of a dance studio, David sets up a white, seamless background and shoots some test shots, adjusting the flash units to create a white "blow-away" background that will enable the photo to be easily composited. Next, he photographs the dancer, working with her to capture a relaxed expression as she leaps and strikes various poses. After the action shots, David lights and shoots a portrait.
That boom is really, really useful right now, because we can get that light all the way up and over her, but we don't have to worry about her crashing into a stand or having a stand popping into the picture. Okay. So, you're ready. You want to tr-- Let's get one more test, and then we'll try to shoot some--shoot with real bullets. I'm still not married to those accent lights. I don't know whether I want to include them and have that rim light you, or maybe put one right behind you, knowing that I'm going to have to cut out the stand, and let that throw some layers of texture into the translucent parts of your dress as you're coming by.
So, I am just going to focus on the mark here, okay? If I can see it. Oh! There she is. Okay, stand right there. Yeah, yeah, yeah. Thank you very much. All set. Okay, thank you. Now come on through.
That's nicer. That's nicer! You've got a really nice point and extension as you're going across there, and I'm trying to--Really work on the hip rotation when you're going around too, because that gives you a really nice look. So your feet are turning this way below your hips, and you are rotating back towards me. In fact, you could even--you don't need to be looking back over my shoulder here. You could just keep that going, keep that facial expression going off the way that you're going.
Stephanie Yezek: Is it okay? Yeah, you don't have to come back over your shoulder like that, necessarily--exactly, and you are rotating. I am going to be you for a second, so try not to laugh if you could. So you are rotating your hips around, but you are really getting your lower body around. I don't think you have to bring your face all the way back. It's almost a real, like almost too much of a spiral. Stephanie Yezek: Okay. Okay. Hang on.
David: I'm going to focus on the tape. Boom! Got it! Okay. I like that. I really like that, and I think that--okay, so let me show you the difference between the two. I mean maybe you don't look straight ahead; maybe just come up more at a 45 this way. Stephanie Yezek: Okay. David: But when you are going back the other way, it's like there is almost no place you can put that where-- It's like your body is facing one when your face is facing other.
Stephanie Yezek: Yeah, it's spiral. David: Exactly, and there is some continuity this way. David: So I would definitely put you on the right-hand side of text and stuff, whereas if I put you on the right, you would be looking off the page this way. So, nice rotation. Instead of looking straight that way, maybe you are looking up, like at this T juncture right there. Stephanie Yezek: Okay. David: So that keeps everything in your body, your facial expression, everything is flowing that way, and then we can start working on just literally your facial expressions as you're coming across there. Okay. I want to focus on that.
Okay, I am shemping a lot, but your body position, that's looking really nice, and it definitely looks better. I can go--I literally can go either way with that as far as your face. The one thing I do want to do is to get the fan around to where your hair starts getting pushed, and your dress is getting pushed as you're going by there. So we will see how much fan we can get away with.
How does that feel? I think that's going to help your hair because you're going to add to that wind because you're moving across--exactly! It's about where your face is looking too. Okay, stand on the mark, if you could. I'm going to go way back. Yeah, it really doesn't matter too much from my perspective because you are coming across my frame. Maybe if I put my camera on focus. Oh, that's it.
You can't miss that. Okay, one quick look. Okay. So, you should see a lot more extension in your dress and your hair coming across here this time. Okay? Stephanie Yezek: All right! David: Yeah, when you're ready. What was the oops? You are going to back, yeah. All right, give me a try. That's nice! My timing is getting better every time. That's the good news.
Let me have you try something. Rather than bringing your arms up, is there any way you can like--I don't know if you have to bring your shoulders and your face around that much. See, there is an attitude. You know what? Do whatever feels right when you're going through and I'm going to shoot it. That's actually really nice. I want you to see this for a second, see how you would tweak that. Really great point! It almost looks like I'm catching you in a turn. Stephanie Yezek: Oh! Yeah, it does.
David: But you're not really going through the turn, but it's as if you were spiraling through the air like that. You almost have too much point on your down foot. Stephanie Yezek: You think so? David: Well, I mean you have got like a hyper extension sort of a bend to it. Stephanie Yezek: You mean in my leg? Yeah, Yeah. David: But that's a dancer thing. I'm stupid. Stephanie Yezek: Like it's really hard to that. David: No, no, I'm saying, I'm just seeing this from a total layperson's point of view, and I don't even begin to be able to criticize the dance.
I mean I want you to see how this feels. Stephanie Yezek: Sure! Okay. David: But I like that top to bottom. I like the way that feels. Stephanie Yezek: Yeah. Oh! David: Great, I like that. I like that this muscles defined. I can very easily say that. That's no worry at all. Stephanie Yezek: Okay, it's okay. Oh yeah, yeah, yeah. It's right. But if you hit your head, we'll talk from there, right? All right! Whenever you are ready. Well, it's good, except it looks like you're pulling your own dress off.
Other than that, it's just exactly the moment. So, I'm going to cheat that a little late. So hold yourself from the waist up for a little while, because as you start to come down, that's when your dress and hair gets all the body. Okay? Stephanie Yezek: Okay. All right! David: All right! Whenever you are ready. David: Okay, you are off the ground. I waited a little too long. The dress is up, a bit too high. Here we go! Bit of Marilyn Monroe steam grate thing going there, okay? That's pretty close. Okay.
Are you okay to do a few more of those? Stephanie Yezek: Yeah. Okay. David: You are holding that a nice long time, and I'm trying to vary when I am grabbing your apogee as you are coming off of it. Make sense? Stephanie Yezek: Yeah. Okay. David: So you are doing these leaps and I'm getting tired because of the weird squatting position I am in. That's the sad thing. Break! Okay, start to sell me, above your waist, at this point.
If I start thinking about your facial expressions, because we're to the point where we're working on smaller stuff. So yeah, center--and your legs are doing everything that you want them to do. But when you are hanging in the air, you would be thinking about that posture, and then as soon as you can forget about the posture, be thinking about where your face is in the moment. Okay? I want you to see this.
I am thinking that this is starting to be--I like what your hair is doing here. There is a lot of motion in it. Do you want your hair up higher like that, or do you want it where it's back and down like this? So we can really start to tweak that. You can see, this is shot earlier, this is shot kind of mid, and this is shot later in your arc. Whenever you're ready, I'll catch you just as you come. Yeah! I like what your hair is doing later.
And go ahead and like loosen your hair a little bit before you take off, so get it where it wants to move. Nice face! Okay, I'm going to wait a lot later this time. So, as long as you can hold that attitude as you are coming down, make sure you can catch yourself, but I'm going to try to give your hair more body. Okay? It's literally just going like straight out behind you at this point. Oh! I like that. Yeah, a couple of more like that. Yeah, yeah! Oh! That's sweet! You are very lemmy--I mean you've got slimmer shoulders, sort of thing.
So as you compact, you start to--it connotes more power I think than-- Stephanie Yezek: It's like a smolder-- David: Yeah, it's like compressed energy is what it feels like. Stephanie Yezek: Okay, yeah. Okay. David: I want to focus on you since we came all the way up there. Okay. Get you in focus. You are sharp. Thank you! Stephanie Yezek: Thank you! David: No, thank you! David: All right! Here we go. Okay.
I think you nailed that one and I think I'm a little bit late on it. Do that again, okay? I love your face on that, okay? Your eyes just look like you're lost in it. If you come down and break both ankles, the important thing is we got the picture, right? That's it! That's nice! I think everything is just pulled in. I like that. I like that. Stephanie Yezek: There is something nice about that. David: It's like your hands aren't forced.
Your feet are great. When I process this, I can tweak this a little bit and like accentuate your lines in your muscles. I'll do that with other picture. I mean you see how that just like has a cut look. Not like you are not cut, but I want to emphasize that. I want to emphasize that. Okay. Do you feel good about this, because we want to think about how you're spending your energy? Stephanie Yezek: Yeah, that's okay. Okay. Let's try something. While we've got this light set up, let's try something in a more static--
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