When taking a photograph of a dancer, it is an experimentation of finding the sweet spot between the hot lights, speed lights and your camera’s exposure. In this video, author Joe McNally discusses how he experimented with the elements on set that help to create an image to shoot a beautiful photograph.
- It is a process of experimentation, and the shutter speed is relative to the ambient level of light that you've created via the hot lights. And those hot lights have controls, barn doors, spot flood that have a bearing on the intensity. And then there's also crude ways of making the lights brighter or dimmer. So you find some sort of middle ground, the room has to be black at this point, it really has to be dark. So if I recall, I think we threw some black even against the doors, off to the sides, just to make sure her environment was really exposure-less, you know.
Sot he only thing I could see out there really was the glow of the bicycle lights. And then you start to experiment. You know, if you go too long, she's not sharp. If you go too short, there's no drama to the motion. It's truncated, and the nice thing about the selects that we have is there's kind of a continuity, an arc, to the overall shape of the motion, which becomes pleasing. If the motion is just truncated, and there's like a short little burst of tracer line from the bicycle light, and it's just like, this.
It kind of doesn't make sense. But this. When you come up and sort of get this motion. So she was able to reach up and reach down, I think within the context of a single exposure. And my exposures ended up being surprisingly long. Two and three seconds long. Which surprised me, actually at the end of the day I was like, hmm. A: I'm surprised it sharp, and B: I'm surprised it worked. (laughs) The combination of F-stops shutter speeds relative to a small light source, this is a good primmer, or you know, school.
Take the information and file it away. You know. Black environment, open up the shutter for two seconds, three seconds, 10 seconds, and there should be no information there, if the environment is truly black, truly dark. And it's kind of hard to create a really seriously black environment, you know, in a studio. If there's cracks, if there's windows. Even the bleed from under a door can influence a digital camera, I have found over time. They're very sensitive instruments. So, yeah, I think a shot like this, you can take it, look at the specs on it, and file that away as a bit of a template for maybe down the road pulling that out of your hat one day and saying, "Oh, maybe this will work."
- Researching the subject
- Conducting a phone interview
- Essential pieces of gear for a dance shoot
- Working with a photo assistant
- Setting up and changing a shot
- Visualizing the first shot
- Creating a lighting setup that complements your subject
- Modifying the environment
- Dealing with on-set challenges
- Attaching lights to a subject