photography in a dark theater

Discussion in 'Nikon' started by kelli_jackson, Dec 11, 2012.

  1. I'm going to be taking pictures of my daughter's dance recital. I have the NikonD80 w/the Nikkor 18-200mm lense....in the past my pictures have been blurry.....unfortunately I usually live on the "Auto" setting and know I need to change it.....any suggestions on what settings/mode to put my D80 in for this type of shooting? I also can't use a flash. thank you!
     
  2. It's going to be difficult. Be as close as possible to the stage, because zooming your lens reduces the amount of light. Turn up your ISO to 800 or even higher, and shoot in aperture priority mode, with the aperture as large as possible. This will give you the fastest shutter speed that you can shoot without underexposing. If you notice the exposures changing because of weird lighting, then switch to manual mode, choose the best photo you've already taken, and copy its settings. You may consider a better lens, if you have the money. For example, the Samyang 85mm f/1.4 lens for Nikon is currently $260, which is a manual focus lens, but very good image quality, and lets in much more light than your 18-200mm lens at the same setting. You're looking at a difference of up to about 12 times as much light, which means that your shutter speed will comparatively be up to 12 times faster, meaning that your photos won't be blurry. If you feel that you need to have autofocus, the Nikon 50mm f/1.8G or 85mm f/1.8G are great lenses, at $220 and $500. You can take your 18-200mm, and zoom it to see which focal length will work best for you.
    http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/905021-REG/Rokinon__85mm_f_1_4_Aspherical_Lens.html
     
  3. thank you so much for the quick response & suggestions! Sounds like I need a new lense! Any suggestions on where to buy new/used lenses?
     
  4. Well, for one, I posted a link above on the Samyang lens. At the bottom of my post, where it says (link), click on it. There's a discussion here:
    http://www.photo.net/equipment/where-to-buy
    Although I'd add pretty much every authorized dealer to that trustworthy list for new gear. Places like Cameta, Calumet, Samy's, J&R, etc. are all just as good in my experience as Adorama and B&H.
    http://www.nikonusa.com/en_US/IMG/Images/Corporate/Where-to-Buy/Nikon_Authorized_Dealers.pdf
    If you want used gear, the only 3 websites that you should really trust, until you get the lay of the land, is B&H, Adorama, and KEH. The rest of the websites are a crapshoot, especially ebay and Amazon. Amazon's third party seller for a lens you like, for all you know, is some random dude sitting in his underwear in Kentucky. Same goes for ebay sellers. I've had great luck on Cr@igslist, but you just have to be vigilant, act the way you would in a foreign country. If it's some broken English ad with no photos, then walk away, while if it is a well-written ad with good photos, and someone that will meet you in a public place like a coffee shop or bank and let you test the lens before you buy it, go for it. It's really a great website that just lets you unload gear by cutting out the middle man. I use it all the time, have bought and sold countless things there without issue.
     
  5. If you want to save some money you could go for the old plastic fantastic Nikkor 50mm F/1.8. This lens is as sharp as anything Nikon makes and is less than $100 at Cameta as a factory refurb. There is 2/3 stop difference between f1.4 and f1.8. It is an auto focus lens so that is easier for you too.
    You might want to select spot metering also. Sometimes when you are in a dark theater and way back your camera will choose a slower shutter speed than is necessary a it sees considerable dark areas in addition to the lighted areas. You want to expose for your child.
    Finally you might want to consider a mono pod. That does not help you stop motion in front of the camera but it will aid in reducing camera shake. It is less obtrusive than a tripod.
     
  6. okay thanks for all of these suggestions re: lenses! Also, when I have it in "Aperture Priority Mode" will the flash automatically be turned off?
     
  7. Yes....:) In either of the P,A,S & M Modes, to activate the flash when YOU want, push the little button just below the flash on the left hand side and the flash will pop-up.
    Another vote for the 50mm 1.8D (cleap as chips) or 85mm 1.8G (very good value for such a lens). If you do get one of these, it can be used at the widest aperture (ie @1.8) to let the most light in, which will allow the fastest 'motion-stopping' shutter speed. If it's a fairly stationary scene, you could close the lens aperture down to 2.8 for a higher quality shot, as long as it doesn't push the shutter speed below 1/100 or you could start seeing blur, caused by either you or the subject moving during the exposure.
    The Nikon D80 is fairly old tech by now, but unless you intend printing big, should produce OK results up to ISO 1600. Better to be non-shakey/blurry and accept the slightly grainy pictures.
    Setting the White Balance to Auto is probably best, but if the colours seem all over the place, try the setting next to it, the light-bulb symbol, the theatre lights are probably big Incandescent bulbs. White Balance can be a trial and error procedure as your eyes are far, far better at adjusting to 'what's white' than the sensor. You could quickly try them all and see what looks the most natural on the back screen.
    How long have you got before the recital? It's not ideal to be using kit that's new to you on the first night!
     
  8. You can also rent a lens for the day, will save you a lot of money. The 85 1.4, or even go up to a 180 f/2 if you are going to be far away. Correct, Aperture Mode does does not trigger the flash. I shoot concerts at times in limited light using Aperture Mode, f2.8 lenses and push ISO as high as I dare, 1600 on my D300s. The D80 might be at it's usable limit at 800. I set the ISO to automatic with a maximum of 1600, so if the light is better in places, the IOS will be lower automatically, but will only go as high as I set the maximum.
     
  9. My 2 cents... DO NOT get a manual focus lens with an aperture of f1.4 for your camera - it will be extremely difficult to focus with your D80 and chances are most of your shots will be out of focus.
    While a fast aperture lens is ideal (it helps keep the ISO down and shutter speed up in less than ideal lighting conditions), it may be possible to get good results with the lens you have. It would be helpful to have some additional information, such as what size prints are you making, what focal length do you typically shoot at (for example 100mm or 150mm or 200mm), what are the setting you now shooting at when you get your blurry images (ISO, aperture, shutter speed), and whether you even have a budget for a new lens, and if you do, what it is.
    If may be helpful to post a sample shot (even a blurry one) with its basic shooting data so we can get a better idea of the shooting conditions.
     
  10. The 85/1.8G, 50/1.8 and 35/1.8 AF-S are all excellent and reasonably priced and would, to a good extent alleviate your
    problems of shooting dance in a dark theater. The choice of lens would depend on how far you are from the stage and if
    you want groups or individuals or something in between. I also would avoid manual focus lenses for shooting action in a
    dark place. I would start with the 85mm as it is in the close-up that you need the largest maximum aperture the most
    (because the action will be magnified). It will also provide the most striking difference in the visual effect of the pictures
    compared to the zoom you have.
     
  11. Kelli, I'm going to offer a different suggestion.
    The lenses suggested are all great, but they offer little in the way of composition so you'll be stuck with its default perspective depending on your audience seating.
    Your 18-200 isn't perfect, but it's perfectly adequate and will allow you to get the most optimal framing which, to me, is more important in its contribution to aesthetics than something with a little less noise but poorly framed.
    Here's a shot I made using a Nikon D70 and 18-70 kit lens under very low light. I used Shutter Priority mode to make sure it won't be blurry (1/250 if memory serves), and open aperture at ISO-1600 shot in .NEF, and had to crank up luminance further in post with a fair bit of noise reduction but I got the shot I wanted, albeit imperfect.
    My philosophy is, damn the noise and take the shot.
    [​IMG]
     
  12. Michael, the problem is that the 18-200 is soft towards the long end of its focal range, and the f/5.6 maximum aperture doesn't give much chance of stopping movement. At the short end of its range I am sure it can be used to some effect.
    I don't agree with you regarding primes and composition. With a high quality lens, given a fast shutter speed, you can crop quite a lot and still get an acceptable image especially for small prints and web presentation. It's not necessary to frame the picture in its final form in the viewfinder (how could this be possible anyway, since the viewfinder gives a fixed 2:3 aspect ratio irrespective of subject and compositional needs and the requirements of the layout?) You can cover the long shots with a 85mm f/1.8 G and if you need a still tighter shot you crop as needed (since the movement is stopped the quality will be better than the 18-200). Wide angle shots are not so sensitive to movement as the people will be smaller in the frame. BTW Michael, regarding your shot, I had to look at it for a minute or two before I recognized that there was an elephant in the frame; I was trying to see what was there but couldn't. That's what noise will do. Can't say much for the compositional advantages of zooms if the subject is hard to see and the left third of the frame is just black (whereas the animal is cropped from the right). In my opinion the subject comes first and composition can be considered after the subject and its emotion/expression are readily identified from the picture, on a first sighting.
    What the OP needs to do, in order to get good results, is to go to the venue before anyone else is there, to make sure of having the optimal seat for photography with the lenses that they have available. E.g. the photographer can position themselves relative to the stage so that they can do vertical single person shots with the 85mm at the front of the stage. If the subject is positioned further away, just crop as needed. If the photographer wants multiple persons in the frame, use the zoom, or a shorter lens such as 35/1.8. Again, crop as required if using the prime, in this circumstance the photographer is in such acute shortage of light that nothing slower will probably work; a 70-200/2.8 could be used of course but it would force higher ISO and much more money than one or two of the f/1.8 primes mentioned. I do stage lit photography quite often and usually I'm at f/2, ISO 2000-6400 when shooting the close-ups.
     
  13. check your ISO settings also not exactly sure where the D80 tops out at acceptable range (you can probably google the answer) before the noise is intolerable or how large of prints you are intending on making. how close are you planning on being to the stage will affect what focal length lens you will have to use go to your seat area before the performance use the 18-200 and find what focal lengths you require. the 35mm 1.8 vr great lens, 50mm 1.8 or 1.4 depends on your budget 17-55 2.8 etc . you could go all the way up to the 70-200 2.8 Doubt that a tripod is an option but maybe you could pull off the string method for additional stability.connect a string with a large washer to bottom of camera, washer at the end put washer on floor pull up camera till string is tight, hold tension on string while taking pictures affords a level of stability. A vr lens would help.There is also a strap method for stability that gives extra points of stablility around your neck and down to your belt loops, never tried it but maybe an option you could probably make one yourself. 4 things that you need
    1 stability
    2 ISO
    3 F stop
    4 fast shutter speed
    might want to try and take pictures at a final dress rehersal that way they would be a bit more relaxed for tripods and you could move around things that they won't allow during an actual show
     
  14. I can't add to much except to agree with Michael that the D80 is perfectly capable of producing acceptable results at ISO 1600. We have gotten so used to the latest gear that we forget that ISO 1600 film was very grainy but we were all delighted with the shots we could get with it given the shooting conditions. I shoot lots of dance in theaters with a D80 at ISO 1600. Typically at f2.8 and shutter speeds between 1/125th and 1/250th of a second. You can probably use the current lens if you live with some underexposure and/or post process, or with careful timing and slightly slower shutter speeds.
    00b7Ye-507957784.jpg
     
  15. I agree that the limiting factor is overwhelmingly the lens, not the camera. Sure, there are cameras that seem to be made for low light (like the D3, D3s, and D700), but I have always been amazed by what an inexpensive camera can do with a great (and too often expensive) lens.
    --Lannie
     
  16. I'd also disagree with Michael about "damn it all and turn up the ISO." I provided the math in my first post. About TWELVE times more light will reach your sensor with an f/1.4 lens than your 18-200mm, and even with "only" an f/1.8 lens, it's still 8 times more light. Which means you aren't past the limit of exposure options, like he was, using an ISO that's too high and a shutter speed that's too slow. As to framing with a prime (i.e. non-zoom) lens, it's simple. Especially as if you don't like your framing, just move to a different row or aisle! This is your daughter's dance recital, not a night at the Met, so I assume you don't have tickets and assigned seats and overzealous ushers. As I mentioned in my first post, just take your 18-200mm, and zoom it to the particular zoom settings to see what it will be like being unable to zoom. Once you're planted in the correct spot, you won't likely have to zoom, and if so, just switch lenses. I also agree with Ilkka that the photo will look better if you take it with adequate light and crop, instead of Michael's tactic of zooming to the "correct" focal length and losing light.
    I'd also bet that this, being your daughter's dance recital, is just fine to take a tripod to set up in front of your seat with the legs close together, or a monopod is just fine. No need for those washer-on-a-string antics. The reason that I recommend the 50mm f/1.8G over the older f/1.8D is because it has silent autofocus like your 18-200mm, which is useful in a dance recital, while the older lens sounds like a small electric screwdriver. Also, the 50mm f/1.8G has better optics, and if you end up upgrading to a camera like the Nikon D5200, it will continue to function perfectly.
     
  17. For your D80, I would suggest going with any of the f/1.8D or f/1.8G lenses that you can afford based on where you can position yourself in the audience. From the cheapest, there is the 50 f/1.8D (around $120), 35 f/1.8G ($200), 50 f/1.8G ($220), 85 f/1.8D (around $450), and 85 f/1.8G (around $500). All of them will autofocus with your D80, and all you can use wide open with decent results (although the 85 f/1.8D lens can have some color fringing).
    Here is a shot I took with the 85 f/1.8D lens on a D90 of N*E*R*D three years ago. I would say always shoot in RAW so that you can make adjustments to the exposure or the WB after the fact. This is a pretty bad edit on WB, but the point is to show you what you can do with a fast aperture even in challenging lighting situations. This was shot at 1/200 sec outdoors at night with only stage lights. I spot metered for Pharrell's face and went into rapid fire mode on the D90 (which isn't really that fast).
    00b7Zd-507969684.jpg
     
  18. @ Ariel: Do you really think the right answer for someone who has "lived on Auto" is a manual focus f/1.4 third party
    prime? Put another way, is exchanging an in focus, but blurry shot for a out of focus, probably poorly composed and
    most like misexposed a good trade?

    I'd learn how to shoot in manual, boost your ISO to limit your shutter speed to where it can freeze your image, and then
    decide if you want to buy something. If you did, you need to understand the impact on depth of field that going with a fast
    lens will have, so even if you get something like a f/1.4 or the 50mm, f/1.8, you probably want to use them stopped down
    a bit (2.2. - 3.2) to get back a bit of the depth of field that you are otherwise giving up.

    One other thing - the lighting in these types of events is usually all over the place, but it is what it is. So figure out where
    the "hot spots" are and anticipate when the subjects are in them. If you are in manual mode, you can set your camera to
    properly expose for that and probably save at least as much in terms of exposure value as you would get buying a new
    lens. Thinking about the lighting is the thing that most people miss and it makes all the difference, especially since it is
    usually not a coincidence that this is where the key action is going to be staged.
     
  19. it is impossible to give decent advice without knowing the details like: what sort of dance, what kind of stage and light, how close can you get, etc. Even the age of your daughter is important (meaning that the older she is the more likely it will look like an actual dance involving more elaborate movements, rather than leaping, jumping, twisting and whatnot, mostly seen in kids under 11-12 years of age).

    your equipment is ok, provided that there will be enough light. Well, at least enough for settings like iso1000, aperture ~4.5 and shutter speed of at least 1/125 seconds (if you can get 1/160, 1/200 or higher - this increases you chances of getting sharper images with less motion blur). I don't have a d80, but I assume that they all are similar, so - set AUTO ISO to 1000 (or even 1600), and select S mode (shutter priority), setting the shutter to at least 1/125 seconds. Please note that at this speed you will have to hold the camera very very steady, especially when shooting at 100mm and above. (These suggestions are based on the presumed level of proficiency of the OP).

    I read that you only shoot in Auto, so I'll skip the recommendation to shoot in RAW. If you can go to a dress rehearsal - get there, so you'll have a chance to see what to expect and adjust the settings accordingly. I have not mentioned that but - if this recital is part of some bigger event on some stage with tickets being sold - you MUST ask for a permission to take pictures beforehand. And yes, if you can rent a lens with a larger aperture - do so, but be prepared for significant increase in weight.
    hope that helps somehow.
     
  20. I did not mention that if your images are properly exposed with the above settings, you should try to gradually reduce the ISO (bearing in mind that you still need at least 1/125 shutter speed). If, on the other hand they are too dark - there's not much you can do, but increase the ISO (means more noise in pictures) or decrease the shutter speed (means more blur in pictures).
     
  21. wow! thanks for everyones responses/opinions! I am stuck using my current lense for tonight but will look at the suggestions for a new on in the future. I am taking the pictures tonight at the only dress rehearsal. The girls are doing a fast Spanish dance in the Nutcracker and will be moving all over the stage. There is a lot of lighting on the stage since its a nice theater at a local community college. I've set my camera ISO to 1600.....will use a monopod or tripod.....can position myself close to stage.....I'm confused though.....should I set it to "Aperture priority setting mode" or "shutter priority mode"? I'll post a picture of what I get! thanks again!!
     
  22. shutter priority allows you to set the shutter speed, while the aperture is then controlled by the camera (which means that it closes and opens as it sees fit, but obviously cannot select a wider aperture than technically possible with your lens (whatever it may be at any given mm). Aperture priority works in a similar manner only then the shutter speed is set by the camera.
    my suggestion to use shutter priority was based on the assumption that you need at least 1/125 to capture dance. in case of Spanish dance from the Nutcracker - I'd even go for 1/160 OR, if not possible, would try hard to capture the moments when the dancers are at the peak (and stop very briefly, before proceeding to another movement). if you set the camera to aperture priority you are risking that it will choose a slower speed than needed.
    before you set the iso to 1600 - try a couple of shots with, say iso800 @ 1/160 seconds. if that works and the pictures are properly exposed - you'll have MUCH cleaner images than shot at 1600. If no - then ISO 1600 is your only choice, cause the Spanish dance is quite fast.
     
  23. It occurs to me all us "experienced" photographers may be over-thinking this a bit. In addition to shutter priority, try the "Sports" scene mode for some shots. This should force both the shutter speed and ISO as high as they can go given the light and available aperture at the focal length you are using, without having to put any thought into it. I have a friend who shoots, dare I say, a Canon Digital Rebel with a consumer zoom lens and gets pretty nice basketball pictures this way.
     
  24. Kelli: One last: Also think of working some 'motion blur' shots into the plan ... I believe the "Nutcracker" is almost custom made for such work.
     
  25. I would set your camera on manual, set the aperture to f5.6, set the shutter speed to 1/250, set the ISO to Auto and shoot away. If your images come out dark, you may have to lower the shutter speed a bit.
    The D80 can give pretty good results up to ISO 3200 providing you shoot RAW, have good image processing software (and know how to use it) and are making smaller prints up to 8 x 10. Out of the camera JPGs from the d80 are not all that great at higher ISOs but processed RAW files print really well.
     
  26. Use aperture priority over shutter priority. If you use aperture priority and open up the aperture up the largest that it will go (smallest number), then the camera will choose the fastest shutter speed you have possible for the correct exposure. If you choose shutter priority mode, then while you can adjust faster shutter speeds, those shutter speeds will lead to underexposure. Aperture priority keeps you within your camera's and your lens' limits. You don't have to check for any underexposure, unlike with shutter speed priority, unless the lighting is tricking your camera in some way (which it would also be doing for shutter priority, and would require going into manual to override regardless). If in aperture mode, at the largest aperture, and your shutter speeds are still slower than 1/60 second, all you can do is turn up your ISO, and past that, you can either use flash or a faster lens.
    Joel, yes, that is exactly what I'm recommending. I am also a member on a micro 4/3 forum, and you wouldn't believe the number of "newbies" that have never even used an SLR or any kind of camera that allows them manual control before, but choose to buy older manual focus lenses to adapt to their cameras and are shooting like pros in no time. At least with the Samyang, she'll have SOME keepers (since her viewfinder can't show greater-than-f/2.8 DOF), or can even stop down to "just" f/2.8 and have mostly all keepers, whereas with her current gear, it is impossible to get a proper exposure with the shutter speeds that she likely requires. But, I don't understand why you think she would compose any worse with an 85mm lens than she would with an 18-200mm lens? Also, how would she mis-expose? Aperture priority chooses the correct exposure, and would no more likely mis-expose than with any other lens. There's no other way for her to get f/1.4 so cheaply as with that Samyang/Rokinon lens, and it's a bonus that unlike those crappy supertelephoto lenses of the 70's and 80's, the current Samyang lenses compare rather favorably to the Nikon versions.
     
  27. Ariel,
    I would disagree with your suggestion that the OP used Aperture priority instead of SP in this case. When we are talking about dance (and especially ballet) photography, you have to either freeze the moment or intentionally extend it, by deliberately slowing shutter speed (but you should have good knowledge of dance movements and specific choreography, to achieve good results using the latter technique). Variants in between simply don't work most of the time and the pictures look, well, not really good. So, I would think that having the correct shutter speed is critical here along with the ability to anticipate the peak moment of a pose/movement. I'd rather have an underexposed but well focused picture that I can work on afterwards instead of a well exposed but blurred one.
    uh... too many words, here are the pictures:)
    Spanish dancer (Nutcracker) - Good old Nikon d100, F4, 1/200 ISO~640
    [​IMG]
    Giselle (poor Hilarion danced to death by the Wilis) - D200, F5, 1/25, ISO800. Note to the OP - D80 and D200 share the same sensor.
    [​IMG]
     
  28. Sometimes the camera's computer solutions just don't work. This may be late for this time around, but what I suggest is this: Try some shots by setting your camera on manual. Put the shutter speed on whatever speed is necessary for you to hold the camera steady in your shooting situation. If your lens will not open wide enough to show proper exposure, then open it as wide as possible. Often in a dark dance theater situation your camera will not be able to focus quick enough. If that's true, then pre-focus on a point on the stage and let the action come to you. Make sure your camera is set to release without waiting for proper exposure, then take the shot. You will likely have to push it in post processing and clean up some noise, but at least you'll have the shot. Another thing to do if the light level is fluctuating, then try to catch your scene when the lights are brightest or your subject is hit by a spot. I don't have time to go pull dance photos out of storage, but I have some images on Facebook taken at a music showcase at SXSW a couple of years ago. You cannot tell it from the shots, but the venue was very dark. All of my shooting followed the techniques described above. I don't think I used my 1.4 on any of these. Most all were made with a 70-200 shooting at 2.8. The initial images appear badly underexposed, but the final pics turned out better than I'd hoped. Oh, and the ISO was set anywhere from 800 to probably 2400. A D 80 ought to work nicely at 800 and maybe 1200. Bottom line is whatever it takes is better than missing the shot.
    Here's a link to the album with those shots on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.190733107629448.40470.176361989066560&type=3
     
  29. I usually try to avoid seeming elitist in these types of discussions, but when it comes to performance art photography my advice is to heed the advice of those who can actually show you the results of their advice. We're fortunate to have four of those in this discussion, a much higher than usual number of qualified opinions on this familiar question.
     
  30. Martynas: In the spirit of an above post ... your image #2 especially ... BRAVO BRAVO :)
     
  31. I don't think its acceptable to be firing off a DSLR and large lens from the audience. Where I come from photography is banned from performing arts as the event organisers always have an official photographer.
    If I were sitting beside someone doing that I would react badly as it would be stopping me from enjoying the show.
    Also, there is a possible infringement of copyright as to choreography, music and costumes. It would be wise to get a clearance beforehand.
     
  32. Francisco - This was only a dress rehearsals. The shows are this weekend and this was okayed by the directors of the show.....lots of "parent" photographers there.....more comments to come on the advice now that I'm back and took a bunch of pictures......ugh.....
     
  33. I had to look for one of these from The Nutcracker. This one obviously hit the cutting room floor, has not been modified, was shot in jpeg on assignment for a newspaper and though I hope not indicative of my work, chosen to illustrate a point.
    The shot was made with a 70-200 F/2.8 on a D300, half way back in the auditorium. Aperture Priority, 1600 ISO at 1/250 sec. The metering was spot. Spot metering and aperture priority allowed the subject which was, as is frequently the case, in the spotlight to be exposed more or less correctly while keeping the shutter speed where action can be captured fairly well. (Noise reduction off.)
    As you can see from this uncropped image, had I used a different metering method it is possible that the camera would have dropped the exposure in an attempt to put the whole scene in correct light. (especially the black in the foreground). That would have made it more difficult to stop action and blown out the subject of the shot. Yes I could have shot manual mode but that would have been a disadvantage in the rapidly changing light of a stage. Sometimes using this method when a spotlight is in use and the stage otherwise dimmer than usual will give you some nice surprises when the camera allows the spotlight to do its job. As a default setting it allows you to concentrate on the action and largely forget about the exposure.
    I also chose this image to show that even when far back in an auditorium or perhaps using a lens that could not zoom in closer, there is plenty of room here to crop in and get a usefull image. This might make the 50 and 85 mm lenses look more attractive for this kind of work. The 70-200 AFS VR is IMO the goto lens for theater work.
    http://www.photo.net/photo/16664212
     
  34. Lex, Bruce - thank you.
    Rick - now let me comment on this image (just technical thoughts - i perfectly realise that you have put this image for illustration purposes only), but perhaps my notes will be of use to someone, especially when we have a visual sample. From the dance perspective - the girl on the left (foreground) ruins the generally nice shot. Either she was too slow or too fast, but her feet are unacceptable. Which leads me to believe that she also did another mistake and got into the line of spotlight, which was intended for the centre couple only. Or - it might be the lighting guy's mistake - I am seeing things like that way too often.
    more on theatre lighting - it is not as tricky as it seems, but poor execution of lightman's duties can cause hell to photographer. You were absolutely right, when you chose spot metering in this case, otherwise the centre would have gone to the far right in the histogram. However, I do feel that the WB settings are slightly up the Kelvin scale, although this may also be attributed to the lights/compensation thereof. generally speaking, the worst thing about theatre lights is the mixture of different temperature sources and the use of gels. this can be partly solved by compensating the temperatures, but it is the case with serious productions only, where the light guy is conscious about what he/she is doing.
    about the settings. You could have safely used shutter of 1/100 or even 1/80 here. This kind of situation on stage definitely lasts for at least a second (well, save for abovementioned dancer, who still could not catch up with that). if you used the slower shutter speed, you could have used a lower iso, resulting in better colour rendition and less noise and a stop or a half increased the aperture. and yes, i think you could have added one stop to the exposure, because it seems slightly underexposed (even based on the centre couple) OR you could have slightly lightened the shadows.
    just some thoughts from someone, who makes his living shooting theatre performances:)
     
  35. Lex, thank you and I am humbled as a rank amateur to be considered "qualified" along with the likes of Michael, KJ, and especially Martynas - all clearly outstanding photographers. Rick also - if that's a shot that ended up on the cutting room floor I would enjoy seeing the "good" ones. We have probably gone a bit over the top with details in our advice to Kelli, a parent accustomed to shooting on "Auto" taking pictures of her daughter at a kids' dance recital with existing equipment. Hopefully she can post some pics so we can see the fruits of our discussion.
     
  36. John, I like your performance shots as well.
     
  37. thanks to this thread, today I've had some great time looking through my archives:) enjoy.
    all images taken at the Lithuanian Opera and Ballet Theatre.
    a postcard for Christmas :) (scene from The Nutcracker)
    [​IMG]
    Stravinsky's Firebird
    [​IMG]
    Anastasia Tchumakova as Giselle
    [​IMG]
    and Olga Konoshenko as Red Giselle in Boris Eifman's Red Giselle (an incredibly powerful production about the tragic life of the legendary dancer Olga Spetsivceva). There is a very good reason why the two pictures are similar:)
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    Eligijus Butkus, as The Teacher from the same performance
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    and both dancers in the scene where Juliet wakes up to find that Romeo is dead in Prokofiev's Romeo and Juliet. That night something interesting happened (like Huxley's shift of perception) - the dancers were so good that I completely forgot I was shooting a performance - the whole happening onstage seemed like a true story happening in real time. a true theatrical miracle :)
    [​IMG]
     
  38. Breathtaking shots. Bravo!!
     
  39. Great shots Martynas! I agree, one can get some great shots while shooting at 1/100 or even a little faster (even with an older DX camera). I actually love shooting in these types of settings. The focus on technique is critical.
    What lens and f-stop did you use for these?
     
  40. the lens was the same everywhere - 80-200 f2.8 af-d (the later version, not the push/pull). It is a brilliant lens and fast enough for my needs. In most cases I try to use F4, unless the iso/shutter combination demand a wider opening. My working camera is d700, but I also make use of the old d100 and d200, when high iso is not required and I need the benefits of a dx camera (for example, the last one was shot with a d200 and the Firebird was photographed with d300).
     
  41. not sure i would set the ISO to 1600; i'd probably do auto-ISO with a 1600 limit. that way, if the stage lights vary, the camera might select a lower ISO value. from what i remember from when i had a d80, ISO 1600 shots were really pushing it. spot metering is also recommended with a d80 as the matrix meter can overexpose. you'll need a fairly fast shutter to freeze motion, which is the biggest factor in preventing blur. 1/125 may not be fast enough. you may find 1/250 works better. the problem there is that you would need a lower aperture number at that speed, and the 18-200 gets to 5.6 maximum aperture fairly quickly. so, shutter priority might be better than aperture priority with that particular lens.
     
  42. Michael Chang:
    Here's a shot I made using a Nikon D70 and 18-70 kit lens under very low light. I used Shutter Priority mode to make sure it won't be blurry (1/250 if memory serves), and open aperture at ISO-1600 shot in .NEF, and had to crank up luminance further in post with a fair bit of noise reduction but I got the shot I wanted, albeit imperfect.​
    So, I'll guess that's about ISO 3200 with a D70. That's pushing it! And, your shot it terrific! But, I have the same experience as you: I started shooting indoors, in dining-room light and restaurant lighting with the D70 and was inspired. The D300 does better and later cameras will do even better. I think Michael is right: Get the shot, shoot raw for the best dynamic range you can, than then push it up in Lightroom as much as you need. Yes, it's not perfect, but you'll get shots you can treasure.
     

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