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Photography Question 
Dara R. Purves

Fast Enough Shutter Speed?

I want to be able to photograph my friends at their dance studio, obviously indoors. But when I set the shutter speed high, it shows up that the photo would be underexposed. (I have a manual film camera - Nikon FM10.)I have checked the camera manual but it hasn't gotten me anywhere. I just want to know how I can set my shutter speed high enough to capture a jump in mid-air or a balance, but I can't do it if I under-expose my film. HELP!
Thanks, DP

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10/16/2008 8:01:02 PM

Bernard    Dara,
The following will help you get the shot:
1. use flash to freeze the action.
2. Use the fastest film speed you can.
3. Use the fastest lens available to you (i.e., the one with the widest aperture).
4. Become familiar with the dance moves, in order to know when there's that split-second pause, then get the shot. Also, it's helpful to know what spot the dancers will be in for the shot that you what.
5. if you can, check out the lighting before the event using the same light, so that you will know what you and your equipment are capable of achieving.

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10/16/2008 9:03:07 PM

Ken Smith
BetterPhoto Member Since: 6/11/2005
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  I'm not familiar with your camera, but if you can adjust the ISO higher, that could help. But, by doing so you induce more grain so it's a trade-off.

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10/16/2008 9:21:21 PM


BetterPhoto Member
  Hi Dara;
If you can use a flash, I suggest it. Also, you may be able to find wide-aperture lenses on eBay or Amazon. Vivitar built some pretty good and very affordable ones. I purchased a Vivitar Series-1 70-210mm f2.8 zoom for my Minolta on eBay for $59.99. It is an excellent action lens. A high-powered flash will help immensely, too. I suggest a guide number of at least 105. I don't know how close you can get to the dancers. A high-power flash set to auto should at least be able to set itself to the distance with you just setting the aperture. Although a high-power flash can get a little pricey, it will be well worth the investment.

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10/17/2008 9:19:09 AM

Mark Feldstein
BetterPhoto Member Since: 3/17/2005
  Greetings Dara.
The trick to shooting dance photography is to fire the shutter at the height of the movement and use a moderately fast ISO film. All the black-and-white dance photography on my web site is shot on Tri-x 35mm film rated at ISO 250. My shutter speeds, on a tripod, were at about 125th of a second, and most were made using available light at f5.6. For color, though I rarely shoot that of dance companies, I like the Fujicolor 100 and bump it to ISO 200.
If you use flash (with permission of the dance troupe, of course), you should do that during a dress rehearsal/photo call. Bernard is right in that you should try to catch a few rehearsals to see where the choreography goes.
And if you shoot with a strobe, you can take advantage of stage lighting combined with the flash to allow some motion to blur while freezing other motion. I've got a shot like that on my site too from "West Side Story". The way to do that is measure the ambient light in the scene, shoot at a slow shutter speed, say 1/15th of a sec., a reasonable f-stop to get some depth of field, like f-8, and then at the same time, pop your flash.
One other thing is to sync your flash with your camera, your need to work at a shutter speed that will support the flash, I think on the FM it's got to be no higher than 1/60th of a sec.
Remember, too, that to get this type of photography down requires a fair amount of practice/experience and to some degree experimentation. It's a lot like sports photography and developing your sense of timing. Film is your cheapest commodity ... use a lot of it and get contact sheets printed instead of prints. I'm sure you'll get some good shots.
Take it light.

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10/17/2008 9:50:27 AM

Bernard    Dara how did it go?
an added not, which you might have figured out already. relating to number three instruction above:
Use the fastest lens available to you (i.e., the one with the widest aperture).
This setting will blur the backgroung, which many times is undesireable.

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10/20/2008 12:17:49 PM

Michael Melcher   First of all, I´m not a great fan of using flash on dance. I feel it destroys the ambience of the situation. I also like to be as unobtrusive as possible so to avoid distracting the dancers from their work. I would also suggest that relying on your camera´s light meter exclusively will probably give you some unreliable results. Especially is you decided to "dramatize" your shots by shooting from a very low angle. I suggest that experimentation is the rule. For the most part the lighting in your room will never change. You should first discover an optimum exposure based on experimentation and stick with it. As far as speed is concerned it will vary. For jumps when the dancers are moving perpindicular to the lens 125 might be a little slow to completely freeze the action, but remember that sometimes a little blurr can enhance the sense of movement. Finally there is film. I have had good luck with Fuji´s faster color negative films. You should buy the professional versions at a quality photo store. A 5 roll pro-pack will cost you about $30.00, which will be well justified when you see the results. The ISO 800 version of these films produces absolutely superb results. These are color films, but you can always scan the results and convert the digital image to monocrome if that is the effect you prefer.

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10/21/2008 6:56:15 AM

John V. Carey   You did not say what kind of Dance. I shoot Irish dancing and no flash photography is allowed as it distracts the dance.
I have a canon 5d, I take advantage of the high ISO setting. And sometimes I will slightly under expose to take advantage of speed. In processing I can always bump up the exposure. The same can be done in the dark room for film.
My lens works well for the individual at f2.8, groups f5.6 for the depth of field. Also how close can you get

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10/21/2008 4:06:38 PM

Dara R. Purves   Greetings everyone!

i was able to get to my studio and shoot some rolls of film, and they allowed me to use flash. I havent been able to develop it yet for I havent been to school because of exams, but I plan on getting it done on monday.

And the highest ISO film I can get a hold of is 400.

But thank you to everyone who responded to my question. I will scan in some photos once I have reached success! Thanks so much!


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10/24/2008 8:20:31 AM

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