Daily Photo – ACC Showcase Solo

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.

A dancer performs a solo at the ACC Showcase dress rehearsal a couple months ago.


  • Shutter:  1/250
  • Aperture:  f/1.4
  • ISO:  1600
  • Camera:  Canon EOS 1Ds Mark III
  • Lens:  Canon EF 85mm f/1.2L II USM

Composition and Processing

  • I generally prefer to shoot modern dance at f/2 or smaller.  In low light conditions, the camera has difficulty acquiring precise focus, and it’s too dark for me to compensate manually (i.e. I can’t see well enough to tell).  In this case, however, I intentionally shot at f/1.4.  The rapid falloff in image sharpness reinforces the sense of depth, particularly since there are very few other visual cues.  The tradeoff is that the only part that’s actually sharp is the patch of hair at the front and what little you see of the face.  Since those aren’t terribly compelling here, there’s a tendency for the eye to wander off of them and immediately to the soft focus form of the arms and forward leg.
  • I center-cropped this to match the pose of the dancer.  Beyond the symmetrical shape, the pose itself is about balance and equal tension on both sides.  I didn’t want to undermine that with an off-center crop.  I even added more negative space to increase the tension — a closer frame would have provided an invisible support.  It helps that the arms themselves, in the final crop, extend more or less to the corners.


March 09 2009 05:46 pm | Photography

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