We had our Xmas breakup at my Photography Club a couple of weeks ago, and as a special treat they had organised for a bellydancer to come and perform for us. It so happens I knew the dancer and had previously attempted to shoot her with my P&S and found it a difficult challenge, so I was looking forward to the opportunity with my 40D.
First couple of dances were to see her dance, and she also got up some audience members for some participation. Then at the end, all the photographers gathered down the end, and she danced for us directly. I had taken several shots of her dancing, but the hall was lit very unevenly (just at one end) and there was a large projector screen right behind her which interferred with the background. So we all piled down the end where the light was. I ended up lying on the floor mostly (along with several other people)
This move is the Toaster – where you wrap the veil around you and then slowly bring it down so you appear out of it like toast popping 🙂
I experimented during these photos with a couple of different techniques – there was a lot of light at this end and lots of people using flashes, but as the light faded off quickly I had my ISO set to 600 and I tried using the flash and then (bravely) without the flash!
Here you can see the flash freezing the moment – I also like the affect of the translucency of the organza veil as well, and the visibility of the two colours shot through it
Whereas the two images below I turned my flash off and just shot with the available light, and got these fantastic swirling images of movement and colour
I particularly like Ghost Dancer, as it seems like she isn’t really even then, its a projection or a visitation, but its too light and ephemeral and insubstantial compared to the solidity of the background.
It was a wonderful opportunity, and Yuri was very patient with us all and danced and posed and twirled and swirled until she must have been quite dizzy, and I got lots of lovely shots.
Things I learnt:
– don’t be afraid to experiment – I wasn’t sure what I would get if I turned off my flash and tried to capture the movement with available light, but I got some lovely shots
– get down low and shoot up to avoid distracting backgrounds
– lots of photographers in a small space can be an interesting experience
– a really bad background can spoil a nice shot
– cloning and smudging are wonderful tools to have at hand (see above)
– a single belly dancer who is obliging makes a wonderful photo!