My passion for dancers started many years ago when I first started my photography business. I found their passion for dancing matched my passion for photography and I found their desire for perfection contagious. Whether I’m creating a scene that is traditional for ballet or simply performance driven, the art, the work, the passion all shines through.
When setting up a session like this, the first decision for me is, what lens will I use? My choice was the Sigma 50mm F1.4DG HSM | Art lens. For me, the lens provides a real perspective as to what the eye actually sees. The next choice was to use a studio that was large enough for the dancers to move and fly through the air and the 50mm 1.4 with it’s fast shutter allowed me to capture that defining moment with ease. This is an extremely sharp lens that captured not only the muscle tone in their legs and arms, but also the expression of the dancers as they fly through the air. When you work this hard with such precision and perfection it should be rewarded with beautiful imagery.
My goal in this session was to light these gorgeous dancers in a way that would add drama to my imagery and their movements by lighting from the top down. This created a lot of shadow areas underneath their bodies. As you can see in my lighting demo, we used a beauty dish to light the dancers and blocked the light with a black flag to keep the light from causing a flare in my lens. Behind the beauty dish is another light, which is shining through a foam core board with a pattern cut out creating a deckled light on the backdrop provided by Denny’s. The goal here was to create a lighting pattern similar to what was on the backdrop. A light bank was used to reflect the light back into the setting to fill in the shadow areas on my subject in this example.
Next, we brought both dancers into the frame. Since Alexis was closer to the light she created a shaded effect on Keith. I learned that most of the time in the world of dancers, the female is almost always in the light. Rather than change the emphasis of the drama the light was creating, I decided to leave the angle of the beauty dish and remove the light bank to create deeper shadows, and a different look.
I used an f 11 setting allowing for a greater depth of field and an even sharpness on both dancers whose distance to my lens varied. The 50mm 1.4 handled this beautifully. There is no fall off of sharpness on either dancer.
To create this next look, we removed the background and the second light, using only the beauty dish to illuminate both dancers. Alexis was instructed to “Look to the Light” while Keith has just enough light to highlight his position as the anchor. Once again, the light coming from the top down highlights the beautiful expression of the dancers and their position. My camera angle is one of shooting up into their faces. I used a center focusing point and focused on Alexis’ face. I was actually lying down on the floor shooting up for most of this session. This elongates both dancers who are 6’2 and 5’9, already very tall.
This single image of Keith highlights his amazing ability to jump and pose at will. This image was created in one take. Again, I was able to rely on my lens to focus quickly and to be tack sharp. This was a one light setup.
For the final setup of the day, I added back a second light and the light bank to create a High Key look. Still using the beauty dish to light my subject from the top down, the second light pointed towards the wall to create a white background as seen here. I also brought back the light bank to fill in the shadows and add to the ethereal feel of the image.
Once again, the Sigma 50mm F1.4DG HSM | Art lens with its fast shutter and powerful sharpness adds to the overall beauty of photographing dancers.