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Waltz of the Flowers

By DouglasMorley
Waltz of the Flowers from Tchaikovsky's Nutcracker performed in rehearsal by dancers from Creative Outlet school at the Cultural Centre Chilliwack BC CA

Tags: Theatre Dance Dancers Ballet Rehearsal Portraits and people

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Robert51 11 7 107 United Kingdom
16 Jan 2020 8:24AM
What a super image that really captures the of the dance.
iancrowson Plus
10 215 168 United Kingdom
16 Jan 2020 10:06AM
In my view an interesting and well composed image.At first look I did not like the strong tint. I prefer Robert51's mod which removes tint. His mod also gives the impression of sharpening the detail a little. He doe not say just what he adjusted.
I would advise capturing such images in RAW which will give you the opportunity to make more adjustments to suit the look you need for an image.
Good one
You have some really good captures in your portfolio.
16 Jan 2020 10:31AM
I may be wrong, but I suspect that colour is the way it actually was, and whether or not that's the case, that's how you want it.
It clearly isn't a mistake on your part.
Fine by me, if it ain't broke don't fix it.
banehawi Plus
16 2.3k 4169 Canada
16 Jan 2020 1:06PM
Its a nice ashot.

It rotated it a little to get that back board at the floor level, sharpened a little, and desaturated so the blues and reds are not blown.

Good work


mrswoolybill Plus
13 2.3k 2274 United Kingdom
16 Jan 2020 1:09PM
Welcome to the Critique Gallery, I think this is the first time you have ticked the critique button. You've been on the site a long time, I guess you know what this area is about. Looking at your portfolio, this is your comfort zone, you know what you are doing. You have uploaded a lot of ballet stage performance shots and they are good, as this one is. So could you clarify please what areas you want critiqued, if you have any questions or require assistance with any point?

The only quibble that I would make is that, looking at the line of the back of the stage, it needs a small anti-clockwise rotation to level.

I would agree with Alan, this is stage lighting, which I love for its colours. Don't mess with it.

EDIT - Willie was typing at the same time as me, he's dealt with the rotation.
Arvorphoto Plus
10 126 5 United Kingdom
16 Jan 2020 4:09PM
Not a lot to add to the previous comments except to say that I would look to crop slightly on the right hand side (or if your proficiency allows to add on the left hand side) to make the distance between the dancers feet and the edge of the frame equal on both sides

A pleasing image.

dark_lord Plus
16 2.7k 699 England
16 Jan 2020 7:12PM
Welcome from me too.

It's a well captured shot. I guess peak of the action or momentarily stationary so shutter speed is fine.
Capture settings are reasonable though I'd stay away from Program mode and use Aperture Priority.

Everythimng looks sharp here despiote the depth across the stage so I'd consider f/5.6 here to be safer. Going to ISO 4000 or 5000 wouldn't hurt and you'd still get decent image quality especially if you shoot RAW as Ian suggests.

Your original is fine. Robert has had a good go at colour adjustment. I won't say correction because, like others, I guess that's how it was.
It's always a tricky one with stage and performance lighting.
Firstly, only people who were there know what the coloured lioghts were, so adjusting an image by a third party is always a guess. Secondly, multiple lights with perhaps numerous coloured gels are used so trying to 'correct' for that is more complex than getting a Brexit deal.
Go with what you remember/like.
DouglasMorley 10 30 1 Canada
16 Jan 2020 7:26PM
Thanks to all who have critiqued my image. I welcome any and all comments. Since I have been engaging in theatre photography I've found that I am very much alone in this work, at least in my locale. I can only judge my work by viewing others' images and frequently envy those (mostly pros), who have access to dance studios, although I do work with an acting group. With regard to lighting I have no control over this and it very frequently changes during performance challenging my camera's ability to adapt. Experience on a very steep learning curve has resulted in my shooting now always in RAW but it can be difficult to make colour base changes because I have to work within the wishes of the performers who have the final say in whether or not I can do anything with my images. Many dance companies have very exacting requirements regarding shots with any kind of blur or what they call 'incomplete movements' as well.
I have also found that this is a very challenging but very rewarding area of photography and I am always eager to improve.
dark_lord Plus
16 2.7k 699 England
16 Jan 2020 8:00PM
Thank you for your reply Douiglas, it's good when there's a conversation going, and I'd like more people to do so in this gallery.

That's par for the course as regards the lighting as it's an integral part of the performance. I never let it concern me so don't bother making coloiur changes.
What I would do though is to set the White Balance to tungsten in your RAW converter if the stage lights are tungsten as the coloiurs will be very close to wjhat the eye perceives, or Daylight if they're LED based.

You envy the pros but they've had to work their way up. It's good to hear you work with an acting group as then that's your particular priveleged access. One thing may lead to another.

It's a shame they don't like b;ur as that can be creative and very effective, though I'm with them on incomplete moves as they'd not make for a good image in any case.
dudler Plus
17 1.3k 1715 England
16 Jan 2020 9:07PM
Comning to this late, I have the benefit of yoru own response, as well as everyone else's comments!

I often say that hte more you can tell us, the more we can help - although I've done some stage and performance work, I've not shot dancers, and what you say about blur is interesting: I've never seen that written before. Often, creative dance photography (I have an elderly friend who has done a lot of it, with students from the Laban School in London) involves a great deal of blur!

I agree that the colour is probably pretty close to how it was (and the range of variations that are acceptable to the eye is considerable). Stage lighting seems to major on certain very strong and not necessarily attractive colours, and it's tricky to work with. Increasingly, LED lights are being used, and can give colour banding if the shutter speed is too high. That poses a problem with the need to freeze action.

Anyway, my main sugestion is that you abandon Program mode, where you give control of both shutter speed and aperture to the camera. You really need to nail shutter speed - and while I'd be using Aperture priority and watching where the shutter speed is, like keith (dark_lord), many action photographers would opt for Shutter prioirty. The one risk this carries is that if yo uare at your widest aperture, and the light drops, the camera will underexpose. We see this quite often in the Critique Gallery...

An impressive portfolio!
pablophotographer 9 1.7k 386
17 Jan 2020 12:45AM

Bravo for taking this picture. I do not see the colour as a problem, these stage colours are colouful!

Nothing prohibits you from doing a black and white version. I think it would benefit the viewers so they focus their attention on the poses and the dance rather than the colours.

mrswoolybill Plus
13 2.3k 2274 United Kingdom
17 Jan 2020 8:23AM
Thanks for your feedback, the Critique Gallery works best with a conversation, as Keith says.

I was particularly interested in this:

Quote:Many dance companies have very exacting requirements regarding shots with any kind of blur or what they call 'incomplete movements' as well.

It does explain the style that I associate with most publicity images of ballet - more about poised perfection than the energy of movement. Maybe the next challenge is to persuade them that there are other means of expression?
pablophotographer 9 1.7k 386
17 Jan 2020 9:11PM
Let's talk about potatoes.

Ballet comes for dinner to your restaurant. Orders beef, asparangus, carrots, petit pois and potatoes. Do not serve them potato mash. Blur resembles mash... Find a time frame that goes like "one pea, no pea - two pea, no pea..." Like placing one potato sliced and spaced it by half the width of the potato. Pick from a continuous shot only the even frames
for example. Clear, precise, spaced. Neatly presented. Perfectly cut. Definitely formed. That is why they will like them. Until, instead of posters, they use screens that can show movement.

DouglasMorley 10 30 1 Canada
17 Jan 2020 10:25PM
Many thanks for the further critiques. I have taken on board all comments and advice. Not sure about the sliced potato one though. Perhaps that refers to rapid fire or machine gun photography which I have tried - unsuccessfully.

On the blur issue - last October I did get to shoot some modern ballet which differed quite a bit from the traditional stuff. An added challenge photographically as it was so unpredictable and sometimes very fast. This lead to a number of shots that were, in my estimate, dependent on blur to achieve effectiveness. Unfortunately, although I submitted my images to the ballet concerned, and despite my repeated urging I have not had the go ahead so far for any. I hasten to add though that I have been told numerous times that my photography is admired by dancers and artistic directors but they cannot allow me to show all but the ones that they deem appropriate. Indeed, in one case last year an artistic director/choreographer, after examining and selecting a group of my images told me that I was not allowed to display those images online but that I could show them in local art or picture galleries - with a prescribed wording as title acknowledging the dance company and dancers.
pablophotographer 9 1.7k 386
18 Jan 2020 4:22PM
What I had in mind was 19th century moving picture stills... rather than 23rd century dogfights with rapid laser guns. I guess banehawi, because he lives in Canada too might have knowledge of what to suggest regarding the rights you are entitled. What if you ask the to grant you model's release rights?
18 Jan 2020 9:31PM
This is not an area of which I have any personal experience, but I would imagine that as you automatically own the copyright to your own images, you can do whatever you like with them. Unless, of course, you've signed some kind of agreement to the contrary.

DouglasMorley 10 30 1 Canada
18 Jan 2020 10:41PM
whatriveristhis, I believe that you may be lawfully correct in your view. However if I did what I liked and the dance companies became aware of this I would likely never work with them again. At the outset of my photography in this area, unless I am specifically asked to photograph their rehearsals (and I have on occasion), each of their artistic directors have always specified that my photographic results are subject to the dancers or artistic directors approval. I may not like it but I feel obliged to agree to this as I am being granted privileged access. When my wife and I actually buy tickets to these shows and enjoy them purely as audience members (and when I am asked to act as a photographer for rehearsals I am sometimes given free tickets), the audience is always, without exception, told that photography is not allowed.
I have developed an understanding with ballet companies, dance groups and actors and have no wish to spoil that.
19 Jan 2020 7:25AM
I understand. I was mistakenly under the impression... as was Pablo, it seems... that you felt somewhat frustrated by the creative restrictions imposed upon you.
"My bad," as the saying goes... Blush
dudler Plus
17 1.3k 1715 England
19 Jan 2020 2:04PM
There are some tricky questions of who is doing who a favour with this.

And it's certainly fair that there should be some degree of control to avoid images that are unflattering or suggest technical inability getting out and about.

I'm inclined to suggest some sort of written agreement upfront, allowing them to exercise this control, providing they respond reasonably - say, within a month.

The alternative - and it may or may not be a real one for you and the companies you work with - is to build a level of mutual trust and understanding, so that they allow you greater privileges than they do to the run of the mill amateur approaching them.

Under English law (and I realise that you are in Canada), if there's a contract, there must be consideration: you exchange pictures for (as it might be) the right to use some of them.

But it can all be rather vague and difficult sometimes!

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