Swingin' Valborg 2016 - Photos

[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.

Colors and Seperation- [35mm f2 1/50 iso400]

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.

Directional Motion Blur - [35mm f2 1/50 iso500]

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

Mooses, Trolls, and Swingin' Valborg!

Velkomen til Noreg - [100mm f8 1/80 iso400]

I am organizing a blues dance festival called Moose Blues at the end of May and this year our theme is Trolls. I want to share two related pictures I captured in Stavanger on the west coast of Norway.

I was walking around the city taking photos and being very touristy in general but there was one thing in particular that I wanted to do. I had been there once previously and in the center of town there is one street where all the buildings are painted in all sorts of vibrant, brilliant colors. All the houses in the old center of Stavanger are painted all white and I heard somewhere that 40% of all houses in Norway are painted white so this is definitely something :)

Can't wait for Moose Blues - [200mm f4 1/125 iso400]

Apparently this explosion of something completely different was a combination of a local hairdresser and an artist in 2005. The street is called Øvre Holmegate or more appropriately: #fargegate. Farge means color, gate means street and yes the hashtag makes it cooler :P

On the street I found two statues of trolls outside a shop, I don't even remember which shop. As I recall it was an overcast day but not too dark and it had an amazingly soft light coming from everywhere overhead (obviously overhead but still great light). All the colors in the street just popped out and screamed at me. It. Was. Great!

I shot with my Canon 6D and Canon 70-200 f4L IS USM lens hand held. It's an absolutely lovely lens and I really like these two pictures for the color that it let me capture. The camera body isn't too shabby either but in this situation most modern bodies would have done smashingly.

Furthermore I have just come back from Örebro, Sweden where I attended a lindy hop party. Swingin' Valborg was great but more on that in my next blog post where I will feature some of the photos I took. For now you can enjoy this small atmosphere clip I took of the dance floor and the Rhythm Baby Makers.

Let me know in the comments below If you want to know more about the gear I shoot with or how I shoot certain pictures. You can request the story behind any picture on this site or on my Facebook page.

MooseBlues.no - Moose Blues website
facebook.com/events/1920140741545361/ - Moose Blues facebook event
regionstavanger.com/en/Product/?TLp=308579 - website about #fargegate
facebook.com/events/166328450393439/ - Swingin' Valborg facebook event
therhythmbabymakers.com/home/ - Rhythm Baby Makers website
facebook.com/Seanbeardmoose/ - my facebook page