Daily Photo – Marlo at Rest

The Daily Photo series focuses on the two or three key creative choices, in terms of composition and processing, that go into creating an image.  Specific technical details about the shot have been left out — you won’t hear me talking about tone curve adjustments and whatnot unless it was a key component of the end result.

Marlo and Shari, of the KDH Dance Company, during a dress rehearsal last fall.


  • Shutter:  1/500
  • Aperture:  f/1.4
  • ISO:  1600
  • Camera:  Canon EOS 1Ds Mark III
  • Lens:  Canon EF 35mm f/1.4L USM

Composition and Processing

  • One thing that works really well for dance photography is to combine an in-focus foreground subject with an out-of-focus background subject.  The key is to suggest there’s some connection between the two, even if you don’t see their face (we get the back of Marlo’s head here) or expression (Shari is a blur, but it’s clear where she’s looking).  I actually expected Marissa (the 3rd dancer in the original) to be the focal point of the shot;  I just couldn’t get a frame that had her in a good position.  As it is, I think the composition may have worked out better, albeit calmer, with just Marlo and Shari.
  • Lighting for any performance is always a challenge, but Cafe Dance is normally used for classes and rehearsals, not actual shows.  There’s no theater lighting of any kind.  Available lights amounted to eight incandescent bulbs on a square track over the center of the room, plus several flourescent tubes.  Not knowing where any of the dancers would be at any given time, I aimed the track lights down and slightly toward the center.  I knew I’d lose the edges, but felt it was better to evenly light the center in the hopes that was where most of the movement would be.  The flourescents provided general fill;  and yes, there are white balance issues associated with this lighting combination.  Shari and Marlo are both being illuminated by the flourescents in this shot, while Marlo also happens to be directly under one of the track lights.


March 01 2009 07:37 pm | Photography

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