[Note: As I am organizing Moose Blues and it's coming up in a week (20-22nd of May) this post is late and it will be the only blog this week! Next week I will also do only one post and it will probably not be a long one. To make up for it (not really) this one is quite detailed :) I will also have quite some stuff that I can share with you afterwards! I'm excited!]
In today's blog I would like to take a closer look at a few photos taken at Swingin' Valborg. That was a weekend organized by the lovely Shake That Thing lindy hop crew in Orebro, Sweden. Valborg or Walpurgis Night in English, is celebrated in Sweden on the night of 30 April. More information in the Wiki article.
I want to highlight two different photos for a few different reasons. I like the first one because of the separation between the subjects and the background. Common separation techniques are meant to (as the name implies) separate the main focus of the picture and the supporting elements.
In the picture to the left I really like the separation that I was able to achieve. Three main elements are in play here. One is the light subjects against the dark background in the top half of the picture while the dark trousers are still clear by virtue of the lighter floor. The second is that the subjects are in focus and the background is slightly out of focus, achieved with a wide aperature. The third thing that worked really well in this image is the color separation. The skin tones are highlighted very nicely by the blue light in the background and the color of the floor compliments the skin tones nicely while balancing the blue in the distance.
This picture was taken with my flash in my left hand bouncing off the ceiling to my left. I have it on a radio trigger so that I can aim it wherever I want to and create a little more depth in the faces. Bouncing keeps the light source big so the light is nice and soft. I used my Canon 6D with my Sigma 35mm f1.4 Art. The subjects are Arnas and Egle from Lithuania, they are dance teachers in Vilnius and you can find their site here. They were the teachers from this event but I think it's coincidence that they are subjects in both of the photos I want to talk about today
Highlighting this second photo I want to talk to you about motion. When photographing people the goal is usually to get them sharp as that is pleasing to the viewer. It's easier to relate to the subject and connect with the picture. Dance events often create a challenge because the human eye is quite a bit more versatile than any camera and/or lens. It lets in much more light and can get much more detail out of bright and dark areas (called dynamic range in camera land).
To have a nice atmosphere organizers don't like to have a well lit room. Fair enough. For us photographers trying to freeze the motion we need to use a shorter shutter duration and ideally we would use 1/1000th of a second. This requires an immense amount of light, full direct sunlight for example, so that's not often an option. Other techniques that we use is to have a flash, which gives a very short but very strong pulse of light during the exposure. This pulse of light will freeze the subject and allow for slower shutter speeds. The issue here is that flashes are not the most beautiful if you don't control all of the variables and that is not always an option.
In this picture I specifically chose not to freeze the subjects because I really liked the motion that was being conveyed. This is very risky because using a slow shutter speed not only introduces motion in the subjects but also if you move the camera even slightly. Most of the time your shots will be terrible and blurry in all the wrong ways. It is also dangerous because the viewer could loose connection with the subjects as they can't see the eyes and emotions of the subject in the photograph.
This is one of the few that came out well I feel. The subjects faces are not too blurry and you can still see their emotion so this helps relate to the photo. The slow shutter speed of 1/50 of a second really shows how dynamic the dance is with them bouncing up and down. Here is the video of the full routine on facebookwith the photo being taken at 1:48.
Another thing that I think helps this photo is that the motion blur has direction and is not uniform. the feet have different speeds as do the hands. This is all anchored and contrasted by the public sitting still in the background.
The rest of the photos I shot and more from the party can be found on Shake That Thing's Facebook page under photos.
Let me know if you liked my analysis of these photos and if you want more of these in the future. I can look at old photos and at new photos. Should I look at more dance photos or should I highlight my favorite vacation fotos in Norway. Thanks again and see you next week :)
facebook.com/events/1920140741545361 - facebook for Moose Blues
MooseBlues.no - website for Moose Blues
lindyhopörebro.se - website for Shake That Thing
wikipedia.org/wiki/Walpurgis_Night - wiki about Valborg
hoppers.lt - website for Hoppers' Dance Studio
facebook.com/shakethatthing.lindyhoporebro/videos - facebook video of the shag routine
facebook.com/shakethatthing.lindyhoporebro/photos - facebook link to the rest of the photos