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05-08-2012, 01:57 PM   #1
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Dance recitals, help please

Dance recital season is upon us. Although I have shot a lot of dance over the last few years, I am still honing my skills. I find there are numerous times that due to the changing costumes, backgrounds and lighting, some highlights are blown out and unrecoverable, even in RAW. I suppose the general answer would be to underexpose and bring up the shadows and highlights in PP (I use LR3). But I also shoot at high ISO, usually 6400, so underexposure may introduce too much noise? Thoughts?

05-08-2012, 02:10 PM   #2
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What are you shooting with? If you've got a K-5 and a fast prime or zoom (such as a Tamron 70-200mm, Pentax 50-135mm, or Pentax 77mm), you'll probably get better results and larger apertures and lower ISOs, as the dynamic range isn't that great at ISO 6400.

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05-08-2012, 02:11 PM   #3
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QuoteOriginally posted by gebco Quote
I find there are numerous times that due to the changing costumes, backgrounds and lighting, some highlights are blown out and unrecoverable, even in RAW. I suppose the general answer would be to underexpose and bring up the shadows and highlights in PP (I use LR3). But I also shoot at high ISO, usually 6400, so underexposure may introduce too much noise? Thoughts?
Get a K-5. It's amazing what you can pull out of the highlights.
05-08-2012, 02:15 PM   #4
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Well for this your best friend is the K-5 with the 14-bit RAW images that have a larger space for recovery. But don't expect wonders fromAPS-C when working on iso6400.

05-08-2012, 02:17 PM   #5
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Shooting distance ... ?

Bonjour,

How far away do you tend to be or are you forced to be ... just curious.

Salut, John le Frog
05-08-2012, 02:39 PM   #6
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Thanks for the replies

I use the K-x and my Sigma 50-150 2.8. Although my previous post indicates ISO 6400 I tend to go between 3200-6400 depending on the venue. One of the venues we use has notoriously poor lighting. I'm usually about 10 rows back from the stage, although in the upcoming one I think we are row 5. I also have my Tamron 17-50 2.8 if needed.

Edit: I shoot wide open, and I do have my eye on the K-5, but the K-x is meeting my needs well enough right now.
05-08-2012, 02:47 PM   #7
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Sample conditions

This is a sample of one of the venues; ISO 6400, f3.5, 1/320 (not sure why I didn't shoot wide open that day)

05-08-2012, 03:59 PM   #8
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Not sure I'm understanding what the problem is. I assume you aren't interested in the backdrops, only the dancers. So, whatever the lighting and costumes for a given dance, spotmeter on a neutral tone and set your exposure from there. Or if you'd rather, use your zoom to zoom in on a neutral tone in aperture priority with the aperture wide open, check the shutter speed settings, and then (in manual) switch to those settings. Am I missing something?

05-08-2012, 04:09 PM   #9
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I know exactly what you mean, shooting indoor productions is very different to normal shooting, and difficult IMHO.

The semi-auto modes just don't work well in artificial lighting with black backdrops. I found that out through hard experience and that was using the K-5, highlights blown to smitherins even with EV -1. Best to take a few test shots in manual and stick to those settings. Just protect the highlights, shoot wide open, bring shadows up in post and get use to using NR software.

Key is use manual mode and stick to it, this is one time when IMHO it is essential to good exposure. If you've never used manual mode don't been afraid, it is easy and in this situation will make PP so so much easier.

Last edited by twitch; 05-08-2012 at 08:07 PM.
05-08-2012, 04:11 PM   #10
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If you are shooting at ISO 6400, then you should be able to underexpose at ISO 3200 and get the exact same shutter speed, then choose how much brightening to do in PP and do so in a way that preserves highlights and gives you no more noise than the original ISO 6400 exposure woild have generated. That's basically what the camera does if you use one of the artificial DR-enhancing modes.

But also, yos should consider that high ISO and therefore some noise, and also a few blown highlights from the strong stage lights, are the norm in concert and dance photogrpaher, and don't sweat it so much.
05-08-2012, 04:16 PM - 1 Like   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by gebco Quote
Edit: I shoot wide open, and I do have my eye on the K-5, but the K-x is meeting my needs well enough right now.
The K-x was meeting my needs too, but the K-5 is an entirely new level.
05-08-2012, 06:53 PM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by sholtzma Quote
Not sure I'm understanding what the problem is. I assume you aren't interested in the backdrops, only the dancers. So, whatever the lighting and costumes for a given dance, spotmeter on a neutral tone and set your exposure from there. Or if you'd rather, use your zoom to zoom in on a neutral tone in aperture priority with the aperture wide open, check the shutter speed settings, and then (in manual) switch to those settings. Am I missing something?
The problem is that the lighting will change throughout any given dance so I tend to use Av at 2.8 and a high enough ISO to guarantee a fast enough shutter speed. K-x doesn't have auto ISO in manual mode.
05-08-2012, 06:56 PM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by Marc Sabatella Quote
If you are shooting at ISO 6400, then you should be able to underexpose at ISO 3200 and get the exact same shutter speed, then choose how much brightening to do in PP and do so in a way that preserves highlights and gives you no more noise than the original ISO 6400 exposure woild have generated. That's basically what the camera does if you use one of the artificial DR-enhancing modes.

But also, yos should consider that high ISO and therefore some noise, and also a few blown highlights from the strong stage lights, are the norm in concert and dance photogrpaher, and don't sweat it so much.
I guess this is all part of my journey in photography. I'm getting shots that are great for the family, but I continue to pursue a higher level of my admittedly amateur craft of photography.
05-08-2012, 07:16 PM   #14
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All of the above, plus don't forget to see what kind of lighting is used in the venue if possible beforehand. Our school auditorium had been neglected by a previous "administration" so maintenance and lighting units were a mishmash of replacements. Since my classroom is next to our auditorium, I try to scout out wings, hallways and rear stage angles for pre and post performance opportunities as well as guesstimations of where your adjustments need to be prior to performances. Good luck.
05-08-2012, 07:30 PM   #15
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The problem is the black backdrops combined with the strong floodlights, the camera meter finds it very hard to cope. To compensate, I used to dial in -2eV, sometimes more on the K-x which I dont have anymore. Linking AE to AF point helped as well (assuming you don't recompose, but move the AF point to suit!)
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