Preparing for the kids’ dancing concert

This week is the time when my photography hobby aligns with the kids’ activities of dancing!  Each year their dance school has an end of year concert – and we’re quite lucky to be able to photograph and video the dress rehearsal. 

But the preparation starts before all of this for each family.  

We’ve had to paint dancing shoes.

Wifey has done the final sewing on all the costumes.  Here’s a sneak peek – 3 costumes each for T and S (acro, jazz and tap).  Luckily no tutu as our kids didn’t do ballet this year.

As for photography – last night, I’ve double checked everything:
* Charged battery and spare
* Cleaned out memory card (4GB) and spare (2GB)
* Checked there’s enough space on the video camera

And this is what I’m packing:
* 70-200mm 2.8 lens for close ups
* 17-55mm 2.8 lens for whole group shots
* Extra DSLR body just in case
* Tripod

I’ve looked through previous year’s photos to double check the settings I used.  It looks like over the years, I got the best results from these settings:
* Shutter Priority – since dancers are moving, I don’t want blurry shots
* 1/125 or 1/160s – at 200mm, I don’t want to go any slower, plus I want to stop their movement
* ISO 1600 – with the lighting on stage, this resulted in apertures between 2.8 and 4.0 to make closeups pop

I think I’ve tried going manual before, but sometimes the lighting can change quite quickly and I don’t have time during a dance to play around with this.  Also, I’ve also tried locking the white balance in before, but since I won’t be matching colours across sets and the coloured lights are changing all the time, I don’t think it matters that much.

I usually give a bunch of photos free to the dance school which gets made into a poster in the foyer.   But I’m beginning to wonder if start selling them to other parents?  Hmmmm…

In terms of seating, I’ve always sat diagonally to the stage so that I can get some nice angles and lines, but I’m wondering if I should change spots this year.  I was thinking of sitting bang in the middle, which might be good for end poses, but could be quite uninteresting otherwise and blocks faces of dancers behind the front ones (as many of the formations are in lines).   And looking at last year’s photos, I think I’ll sit a bit lower/closer to the front as there seemed to be too much vertical angle in the shots for my liking.

But the most important thing is of course the kids!  They’re definitely looking forward to tonight’s dress rehearsal.  At the dinner table last night, our 7yo said that she was a little nervous!  We told her that a few nerves is a good thing 😉   And this morning, I had to field constant questions like “What time do we have to get there?”, “When will we do our hair?”, “When do we have to leave?”, “Will be people be watching us tonight?”.    I think it’s good to work towards something big and special – with dancing, this is either exams or a concert – not as often as a sporting hobby where there would be a weekly game to put the pressure on!

Here are some photos from last year’s concert.

2 thoughts on “Preparing for the kids’ dancing concert”

  1. Some great pics from last year.

    If you want to keep the shutter speed as fast as possible, then you’re probably better off using aperture priority, with the aperture wide open, rather than using shutter priority.
    That’ll ensure the camera is using the fastest possible shutter speed it can, given the exposure, ISO and aperture that you’ve set.

  2. Thanks for the tip Martin.

    Unfortunately, believe it or not, at times the lighting is so dark on stage that if I used aperture priority, the shutter speed would be too slow for my liking (eg. 1/40 to 1/50). I prefer a non blurred but 1 or 2 stop underexposed shot than a blurred correctly exposed shot, only because an underexposed shot can be fixed later.

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