When I posted the images from my previous movement session online, I got an instant response to the images, and other dancers wanting to take part. Hayley introduced herself as a Salsa dancer who had a number of flowing dresses, so we set up a time to shoot.
I used the same hall as for my earlier shoot, however having learned from the first session, and reviewing a different YouTube clip, I made a couple of changes. The most notable were to make sure I had a second light bank and a much bigger (and taller) backdrop. The new lights were two Interfit continuous lights borrowed from a fellow photographer at work. While not being particularly strong they were more than adequate for the long exposure work. I used a small light stand and boom arm to set them one on top of the other giving me an effective stripbox. I had them positioned behind a large reflector so their light was fairly concentrated. The diagram below shows the layout.
In these circumstances you have to work solely in manual and therefore the first shots are generally trial and error. Focusing is also on manual by selecting a spot roughly equivalent to where she would be when the flash fired. Given that the camera was set at f11 I knew that there was a degree of flexibility in the depth of field.
I initially had the computer tethered to a laptop as this made showing the images to Hayley a lot easier. Unfortunately it is fairly old and struggled to keep up so ended up being ditched. Tethered shooting is really good when it works but can be frustrating when it plays up.
Hayley had a number of outfits which we moved through. He initially one ended up only being used for the test shots as it was blending too much in the background. The lighter coloured dresses worked best, although the speed that Hayley was dancing did cause some issues. With long exposures if the subject is moving quickly then rather than a blur, they simply disappear. Trying to find the right balance in the speed was important.
At one point we placed a red gell over the continuous light to see what effect that would make, especially when she was wearing a white outfit. I would rate this has been only marginally successful. When Hayley was over by the gelled light the red came through strongly but it was too far away for the main light to be fully effective. When she was closer to the main light the colour was essentially bleached out by its strength.
I then moved to a series of shots using lengths of fabric and a fan to add the movement. Hayley added to these by playing with the fabric in the air and the results from these images are really good.
Towards the end of the shoot I changed tack and tried to get the images that would essentially freeze the action. Leaving the existing lights in place I introduced a third lights which I shot into a large silver umbrella. The shutter speed when then put up to maximum sync speed and I shot some images of Hayley jumping.
Some weeks ago I came across a Youtube clip in which the photographer used long exposure and flash together the create images of movement. The flat essentially froze the action at that point whereas the log exposure created the movement.
I decided that this fitted in nicely with my earlier session using the LED lights and dancers which you can read about here. I had a large hall available and Kasia agreed to be my dancer.
The key to the shot is getting a sufficient long exposure to allow enough light in to capture the movement, and the flash set to fire right at the end. I knew that I had to have a very wide depth of field as Kasia would be ranging over quite a large area. Therefore the camera was on a tripod and set at f20, with manual focus set with a test shot.
We initially started with a 1/3 second exposure but that didn’t generate enough movement so we extended that to 1 second. The ambient light was provided by the room lights, and my main flash was set to camera left using the 7 foot parabolic umbrella. I positioned a second light camera right with a small gridded reflector aimed at the backdrop to try to add some more separate.
I had planned to bring in a constant light but in packing the car that got left behind.
While I am reasonably happy with the end results I think that there were some definite things that I would change for the next shot.
The first was to use a much bigger backdrop. I was using a very old support system and it is not that wide or tall. That meant that a number of great looking shots were not useable because Kasia had moved off the backdrop.
I would remember to bring in all of the lights that i needed because the final image is well lit, the movement is a little dull.
Timing is everything. Trying to start the movement with the press of the shutter is quite hard. As shown in the image below if Kasia held her initial position for two long we ended up with a double exposure.
I am trying to arrange a time with a ballet dancer in the next month and hope to take this series further.
Some time ago i saw some amazing images where a photographer had attached led lights to a canoeist paddles and recorded the movement. I knew that I wanted to the same but instead wanted to attach them to a dancers body and record the movement of the dance.
I bought a 5 meter string of lights at the end of last year but it has taken quite some time to find a dancer willing to take part. Margarita is a model as well as a champion ballroom dancer, so when she agreed to help out I was really happened.
The lights were wired to be powered from the mains, which was never going to work so I got a battery pack that could be connected to them. My daughter helped my by sewing some together some fabric into a belt containing a pocket for the batteries.
We has intended to use double-sided tape to attach the lights but this did not work to well so ended up trying them on with lengths of string.
We shot in a dance studio that has the advantage of a full length mirror. I set the camera on a tripod at f22 and shot 10 second exposures.
At the end of the shot Margarita partner Erik joined and we changed the lights so they went around both of them.
I have now have other ideas to do in the future so stay tuned.