Last Week I Worked On

I’m trying this new thing where instead of saying to myself that I will be working on dance/photography/life related things, I will just recap things I have actually done. I find that listing out future tasks doesn’t actually entice me to do them.

Anyhoo, last week I worked on three small things:

  • The first phrase for a new solo blues routine with my boyzzz Tien and Jules.
  • Aerials!!! with my Swing Connexxion CNX troupe.
  • Leaving the 50mm on my camera and walking forwards towards the subject instead of instinctively switching lenses.

Messin’ Around And A Scene Lesson

The first two months of 2012 has just blown right by hasn’t it? So apparently Montreal had one of its warmest winters in recent history this year. Good news for me, bad news for planet earth. Actually, I should say that it was great news for me since I got away not buying a winter coat and instead stayed devilishly stylish all winter long with my faux-leather jacket and NY Yankees baseball cap.

I am a firm believer that everyone in the world learned how to do the mess around, all conflicts and wars would cease immediately. A couple of weeks ago at Nuit Blanche in Montreal, I witnessed Alain and Lunou teach what seemed like thousands of people a couple of swing dance moves and the ol’reliable mess around. Now, if you’ve ever taught a beginner swing series before, the mess around is pretty much a tried and true way to get some laughter and lessen the anxiety all around from the students. Magnify that image by a thousand and I’m sure you would have super impressed like I was.

Canadian swing cities should take note of what is working in Montreal in terms of the promotion of swing dancing. The big dance swing dance schools (and there are a multitude of them), pretty much have their lower level classes PACKED because the dance is so embedded in the culture and arts of the city. They think big and plan long-term.

What’s also neat is that if you teach for one of those swing schools, you pretty much have free entry to each of their dance events. Not only does this encourage advance dancers from each school to actually go out social dancing more, but it shows the newer dancers what could be possible if they took some lessons. Everyone wins. Dedicated dancers will be less sad when looking at their account and the scene wins because there is a constant stream of young, enthusiastic dancers replacing those more “mature” dancers who start tapering off.

Battle of Jericho

Spot metering. *Shakes fist*. This has got to be one of the most frustratingly delicious aspect of dance photography that I still have not quite nailed down confidently. The above picture, while it’s not a terrible shot, clearly states that I have a long way to go in terms of shooting a live stage with variable spot lights. I guess the saying is indeed true – “one cannot simply point the spot meter at the subject and get a decent result”.

The ideal process of metering in general would be to focus on the part of the subject that you want to base your metering on – which in most cases would be their face. Seems pretty easy enough right? However, unless you have fast twitch reflexes and can accurately use spot metering focused on a subject’s face while they are jumping and flailing around, your shot will most likely be over-exposed as the camera processes that the light around the subject is too dark and compensates. While there are two other options available to use, matrix metering and “that other one with a circle and a dot”, using seems to much based on luck. You might end up with the proper exposure, or you might not. I’m not much of a gambler unfortunately.

Sometimes I imagine myself as a sniper with a reticule of the size of a peanut aimed at a dancers forehead. Sort of like that scene in Enemy at the Gates where the main character is popping headshots timed to when bombs are exploding. Except instead of trying to increase a kill-count, I’m trying to shoot events with less pictures tagged for “deletion” due to improper exposure and metering. It’s actually quite addicting. Is this TMI? Probably.