Tag Archives: Photoshoots

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.

Failed photoshoots

I’ve recently found a group of work colleagues are also interested in photography. It’s good to have a bunch of people sharing your interest, especially in photography where it can be quite lonely. I remember one sunrise I took on the way to work a few years ago – just me and my camera admiring the sun coming up over the river – but looking like a camera nerd with no-one else around, wondering whether to acknowledge or nod to people jogging past me 😉

So I was invited to join in a shoot of the Red Bull Air Race a few weekends ago. I’ve always weanted to go but the girls weren’t very interested. I thought I’d be prepared – so the night before I cleaned my lenses, blew the dust off the camera sensor with the trusty Giotto Rocket, cleared out the memory cards, packed the tripod and bag.

After driving around, I found a parking spot at $10 near the zoo and walked to the meeting point, wondering if it was the right thing to do leaving my wifey to do all the Saturday morning taxi duties. I thought, “Yes! This is my own time! I need to do this.”

I arrived and my friends were there already, taking some shots. We must’ve looked nerdy or try hards all standing there with our 70-200mm lenses 🙂

Anyways, it was about 12.15PM, 45 minutes before the actual race was about to start. And. My camera stopped taking photos. It was reporting “BAT”. Aaarghhhh!!! How can that be? I hardly took any shots at all. I realised I hadn’t charged this battery. No problems. I knew I had a spare battery in the bag. Popped that one in. “BAT”. You gotta be kidding – I hadn’t charged ANY of the batteries, and I must’ve left them flat from their previous use.

What to do? I decided I could go home, and charge a battery which should take 1 hour at the most I think. But by the time I walked back to the car, weaved through the traffic, got home, ended up having lunch at home, started preparing for Church while the battery was charging, hearing the planes zoom past the city from our house, it was too late…


I thought I’d redeem myself at the next group outing – a walk along the foreshore on a Friday morning to take the sunrise – the plan was to do the City with the Swan Brewery on the side, then the Crawley Boatshed, then Matilda Bay. This time, I did charge both batteries, emptied the memory cards, packed the bag by the door, set my alarm to wake up at 5.30AM and went to bed.

The next thing I knew, my wifey was kicking me under covers and asked “Shouldn’t you be taking photos now?”. I rolled over and looked at the clock – 6.15AM, it was already light outside – I had missed the sunrise! Aaaarrrghhhh!!!! I looked at my alarm – it was on the Radio setting at zero volume instead of the pesky annoying buzzer.

Oh well.. next time.

In the mean time, here are the photos I could’ve taken 🙂

Boatshed shots by Martin – http://martybugs.net/blog/blog.cgi/photos/waterscapes/ShootingTheCrawleyEdgeBoatshed.html
Red Bull Air Race by Martin – http://martybugs.net/blog/blog.cgi/photos/transport/RedBullAirRace2008.html

Update: I have since gone down to the foreshore by myself to shoot the sunrise. A bit of a lonely experience, but it was worth it 🙂 Photos up soon.