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Capturing dance in low light

For those who are not yet aware, I have three daughters and they are involved in Physical Culture, a wonderful sport for which they gain a great deal. Last Saturday I spent about 8 hours photographing their inter club competition and what I gained in experience from that is frankly priceless.

I can’t post photos of the competitors but I can post images of my kids doing it that will give you an idea of how the shoot went.

As always there was LOADS to learn and since I was photographing 24 heats, I had plenty of time to mess around with my settings.

The venue was indoor, I was about 20 meters from the furthermost point on the floor and 3 at the closest - generally the competitors hovered around 10 away. Per heat I had between 1-3 competitors to photograph

The style of movement varied depending on experience and age the children moving in a more jerky unpredictable pattern.

There was very low natural light, the lighting is from above and you were only permitted to shoot from behind so once the shot was lost that was that. For the first few heats they didn't have the lighting on at the front of the room. As the day went on, the light changed as the sun tracked across the sky so ISO, Aperture and shutter speed had to reflect the changes. I shot RAW on manual.

The photo above was shot at F5.6 1/125s +1 Step ISO 1600 and is a bit grainy for mine, but overall not so bad aside from the shadows cast from the roof lighting. White balance was on auto.

Here are a few more, they all have similar noise to them that frankly really annoys me, that may be as I am working from a high def television as my editing screen and can see more of it. But still next time I think I will lower the ISO and have a wider aperture.

Though I do think with the lenses I have, the photos wont get much better than this as the focal length and aperture capabilities are just not ideal for sports photography indoor.

Telephoto lens that is quick and has a wide aperture would be perfect and produce a much clearer result so I guess for now, I shall roll with that.

I did much research afterwards talking to professionals on forums about it and they suggested with a ton of post-production and a few tweaks the photo’s could be improved but a lens suited for this style of photography would be the best.

The difference in clarity between my current two lenses is amazing at the same distance so I would say that they are on the mark.

Anyway, the experience was great and I learned heaps! I think I will be up for a prime lens at some point soon. We have a Zone coming up soon so I am going to test what I learned at this shoot and apply it to that! Here are the photos!

The original blog was posted to facebook, you can find it here:


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