Competition Dance Photography
Whilst the above image may well look like a studio shot, it’s actually one from a competition event held at Blackpool Winter Gardens. This is from the Europeans annual competition, and I’m there to support my Mrs., Helen, of Helen Rose Photography.
Usually, I set up for events as if it is a studio environment, complete with accents and keys. A lot of event photographers prefer a fairly flat look, with a couple of keys and no accents. I always tend to see that as a missed opportunity. It may well take a little longer to set up, and require a little more equipment, but the images tend to have more depth and greater appeal.
For the above image, I used a total of four lights. Two accents, one key and a spot. The spot iss nothing more than theatrical. It doesn’t contribute to the lighting of our subject in any way, other than to appear as a spotlight by spilling down the backdrop.
Seeing as we have mentioned the spot, I may as well start with that one. It’s an Elinchrom ELB500 head clamped to the background support bar, firing through a 20° grid. It’s angled downward and towards the base of the backdrop, ensuring the light path clearly shows. The output is set to 3.0 (Equivalent to 50Ws). This basically overlights the black cloth, causing it to appear white, therefore looking like the path of a spotlight, and aimed towards the subject.
Frame left is the first of our accent lights. This is another ELB500 at about head height and angled slightly down, firing through a 30x140cm honeycombed stripbox. The honeycomb tightens up the path of the light, and helps prevent flaring. It’s placed barely forward of the backdrop, and the result is the very fine accent along our subjects lower right leg (the one in the air!). The accent is so fine, it could be termed a rim light. The output is set to 4.0 (Equivalent to 100Ws).
I have a second accent light placed frame right. Again, it’s only just forward of the backdrop, providing quite a sharp accent along our subject’s left thigh etc. This is another ELB500, at head height and firing though another 30x140cm honeycombed stripbox. The output is also set to 4.0 (Equivalent to 100Ws).
Finally, we come to the key light. This is a fourth ELB500, firing through a 120cm Lastolite EZBox with a honeycomb. It’s at maximum height on the light stand at around eight feet, mainly to avoid passing folk! It’s angled down towards our subject, which reduces light contamination of our background. The output is set to 3.0 (Equivalent to 50Ws).
Olympus E-M1 mkII 1/200th sec ISO400 12-40mm f2.8 @ f5.6
Some of the costumes within the Freestyle dance world are really quite phenomenal. This is Millie, who I regularly see dancing on quite a few occasions. Her costume is quite striking, and reminds me of the Valkyrie. Again, this has the two accent lights, which are the ELB500s firing through 30x140cm gridded softboxes, providing that rather nice separation from the background, and also picking up the detail of her stoned cloak. They are both set to an output of 4.0 (Equivalent to 100Ws).
The key light is the Phottix Raja 105, again with the honeycomb fitted. To be honest, this modifier tends to be my “go to” for most of my work. It’s mated to a third ELB500, and still firing at an output of 3.0 (equivalent to 50Ws).
Olympus E-M1 mkII 1/250th sec ISO500 12-40mm f2.8 @ f5.6