User Tag List

Thanks useful information Thanks useful information:  2
Results 1 to 18 of 18

Thread: Advice on Nightclub/Dance Photography Techniques

  1. #1
    Member Watchamacallit's Avatar
    Join Date
    09 May 2010
    Location
    Sydney
    Posts
    94
    Mentioned
    0 Post(s)
    Tagged
    0 Thread(s)

    Question Advice on Nightclub/Dance Photography Techniques

    Hi all,

    Newcomer to the forums here and relatively new to the photography scene too (maybe 6 months now). Before I continue on with my questions/advice asking, a little bit of background is I'm trying to cover a lot more of Latin events that occur here in Sydney (though I am not Latino). I know quite a few of the event/night organisers, so attending these with a camera usually isn't an issue, plus the fact a lot of dancers aren't too shy about having their photo taken.

    Now moving on. Whilst I have browsed through the web and through the forums on nightclub/dance/lowlight photography, still looking for some more advice/guides on how to shoot these events. For the moment, most a social nights, usually in a bar or club with very limited lighting, sometimes even changing lights and I have found these to be a challenge both on my ability and my gear. Mainly shoot in manual mode, sometimes Aperture mode too on ISO 800, generally without a flash (yes - harsh conditions, but I do try not to blind people half way through a move or something).

    Basic review of my current gear:
    Nikon D90
    SB-600
    Nikon 50mm f/1.8
    Nikon 18-105 (kit lens)
    Nikon 35mm f/1.8 (awaiting delivery, "replacing" the fifty which I find a bit long)
    Tokina 11-16mm f/2.8 (to capture whole dance floors due to cropping, or couples when up close)

    When I have some time, I'll try and upload my collection onto Flickr, once I weed out 800 or so photos...process them...watermark them and finally upload them...ahem.

    If anyone has any recommendations on any of this, hit me up - I'm open ears to try and improving my technique and trying out new ways of doing things.

  2. #2
    Administrator ricktas's Avatar
    Join Date
    24 Jun 2007
    Location
    Hobart
    Posts
    15,137
    Mentioned
    8 Post(s)
    Tagged
    1 Thread(s)
    This question is way beyond the scope of the New To Photography forum, where it has been posted. Moved thread to more appropriate forum
    "It is one thing to make a picture of what a person looks like, it is another thing to make a portrait of who they are" - Paul Caponigro

    Constructive Critique of my photographs is always appreciated
    Nikon, etc!

    RICK
    My Photography

  3. #3
    Member
    Join Date
    30 Apr 2008
    Location
    Perth
    Posts
    140
    Mentioned
    0 Post(s)
    Tagged
    0 Thread(s)
    Well a flash would be an excellent addition. I have worked with performers before and flashes dont usually bother them as long as your not right in their face.

    Using a flash allows you to use a much slower shutter speed, and let more of the ambient light in. This will help you create more atmosphere in your photos. While having a slow shuter speed your flash will freeze your dancers. Depending how fast they move you might get some blur but this can be a desirable effect. Be sure to set your flash to Second Curtain Sync, so the flash goes off at the end of the exposure. This will set any motion blur behind the subject for better results.

    I usually shoot in clubs with an ISO of 1000 or more to help let the ambient light in. Depends on your camera body whether it can handle the high ISO levels. If im shooting still people in clubs, i will shoot as low as 1/5th shutter speed and let the flash do all the work. Usually on F2.8.
    Brodie Butler (Perth, WA)
    Photographer / Filmmaker / Retoucher
    Canon & Elinchrom user

  4. #4
    Member
    Join Date
    12 Feb 2008
    Location
    Brisbane
    Posts
    7,837
    Mentioned
    0 Post(s)
    Tagged
    0 Thread(s)

    Advice on Nightclub/Dance Photography Techniques

    Post some shots and let's see what we are dealing with


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
    Darren
    Gear : Nikon Goodness
    Website : http://www.peakactionimages.com
    Please support Precious Hearts
    Constructive Critique of my images always appreciated

  5. #5
    Member
    Threadstarter
    Watchamacallit's Avatar
    Join Date
    09 May 2010
    Location
    Sydney
    Posts
    94
    Mentioned
    0 Post(s)
    Tagged
    0 Thread(s)
    Thanks for the info Brodie. I've used a flash and generally not too much of an issue, though I struggle at times to bounce the flash off (high ceiling, large distance from walls, mirrored studios, etc) and since the majority of times I mainly perform this without a flash a result.

    I've also played around with the exposure times and rear curtain flashes, think my technique needs a lot of improvement but have also found due to moves/etc executed can sometimes leave the subject within the motion blur.

    As for my camera body, I've found the D90 to perform quite decently regarding the high ISO and noise levels (and according to most reviews) though in quite a few shots I'm noticing the noise levels due to the lighting/lack of lighting in some areas (once again, to improve technique).

    Also had a squiz through your site Brodie, some nice shots and interesting effects (such as the car open/close boot exposure). Kind of miss Perth too.

    Kiwi - I'll try and get some up over the weekend if I get some spare time at my PC., though the thought is a bit intimidating.
    Last edited by Watchamacallit; 20-05-2010 at 4:06pm.

  6. #6
    Administrator ricktas's Avatar
    Join Date
    24 Jun 2007
    Location
    Hobart
    Posts
    15,137
    Mentioned
    8 Post(s)
    Tagged
    1 Thread(s)
    Quote Originally Posted by Watchamacallit View Post

    Kiwi - I'll try and get some up over the weekend if I get some spare time at my PC., though the thought is a bit intimidating.
    There is your answer. If you are intimidated by posting some of your work on a website full of complete strangers, then in my opinion you are not ready to be taking photos in nightclubs etc. Develop your skills before you leap into any commercial endeavour.

  7. #7
    Member
    Threadstarter
    Watchamacallit's Avatar
    Join Date
    09 May 2010
    Location
    Sydney
    Posts
    94
    Mentioned
    0 Post(s)
    Tagged
    0 Thread(s)
    I did not mention that this was commericial because it is not. I didn't make any claims of such, so for future reference I will state this.

    To clarify:
    1) I am no professional, just an amateur.
    2) As I know some people in the Latin community, I do this to help grow the social dance scene - something people in the scene want, not just the venues.
    3) I was asking for advice/guides on how to perform these shots (which Brodie gave and taken on board, and need a photo at Kiwi's request) -hence the reason for this post.

  8. #8
    Administrator ricktas's Avatar
    Join Date
    24 Jun 2007
    Location
    Hobart
    Posts
    15,137
    Mentioned
    8 Post(s)
    Tagged
    1 Thread(s)
    So show us some of your current work then!

  9. #9
    Member
    Join Date
    20 May 2010
    Location
    Gladstone
    Posts
    282
    Mentioned
    0 Post(s)
    Tagged
    0 Thread(s)
    Watchamacallit, Firstly an external Flash(good unit) would help with nightclub work. Seccondly you might wish to do a google search or better still visit the "Luminous landscape" site and do a search on "Dragging the Shutter" . Would really like to try talk you through this one but i think i would end up tripping over my tounge so to speak lol.
    Anhow if you dont get any joy give a "Holla" and i'll see if i can talk you through it some way or another .
    So long as i dont get shot down in the process as i'm only an amature myself..
    We didnt inherit this land, we merely borrow it from our Children

  10. #10
    Member
    Join Date
    13 Apr 2009
    Location
    Melbourne
    Posts
    84
    Mentioned
    0 Post(s)
    Tagged
    0 Thread(s)
    Another thing to consider is rear curtain sync.
    D700, D300 both gripped. Fujifilm X10 SB900, SB800 SB700 & SB600
    Glass : wide selection

    Web: http://mellosphotography.com.au/
    Face Book : https://www.facebook.com/pages/Mello...82637858468895
    500px : http://500px.com/MellosPhotography

  11. #11
    Ausphotography Regular swifty's Avatar
    Join Date
    18 May 2007
    Location
    Singapore
    Posts
    1,352
    Mentioned
    1 Post(s)
    Tagged
    0 Thread(s)
    I'll second pretty much everything Brodie said.
    But u do need to experiment with the amount of ambient. Dragging the shutter longer introduces more motion blur (ambient background) whilst upping the iso introduces noise. U decide what combination u think is appropriate.
    Use flash but not directly. Try bouncing but if the walls/ceiling are all black try just using the pull-out white card. Ppl don't seem to object to flash unless pointed directly in their eyes.
    The flash only lights one distance correctly which should be your subject(s). If there are foreground ppl closer than the subject they will be overexposed and the bacground ppl will be underexposed. The trick is to balance the amount of flash on subject with ambient. Use i-ttl but experiment dialing it down a little, maybe try -2/3. Of course use rear-curtain.
    Flash duration is very short and will do the 'freezing' of subject for u but depending on the amount of ambient, u may get more 'double image' the longer u 'drag' the shutter.
    These r what I've learnt from a few evening wedding receptions I've covered and just taking my dslr into clubs. So I'm no expert but I seem to have had decent results with the above settings. Hope they help u.
    Nikon FX

  12. #12
    Member beaco's Avatar
    Join Date
    21 Mar 2010
    Location
    MEL
    Posts
    46
    Mentioned
    0 Post(s)
    Tagged
    0 Thread(s)
    I find one of the biggest issues is dust (flash reflects the dust specs). Also try to avoid high powered flashes it will kill all the ambience of the place. Go for a bounce flash or fill flash where possible.

  13. #13
    Member
    Threadstarter
    Watchamacallit's Avatar
    Join Date
    09 May 2010
    Location
    Sydney
    Posts
    94
    Mentioned
    0 Post(s)
    Tagged
    0 Thread(s)
    Apologies for the (extreme) lateness in posting back here, part of it due to running around regarding insurance companies.

    Anywho - at the behest of people wishing to take a look at some of the photos I've taken, I've gotten around to adding them onto Flickr (read the post regarding images). A little overview in regards to these photos:
    • All shots performed with a 18-105mm f/3.5-5.6 or 50mm f/1.8
    • All shots handheld unless stated
    • All shots completely unedited (unless stated), nor cropped, as I prefer to improve the technique of taking photos, not postprocessing
    • Added a simple (dodgy) copyright
    • All EXIF data should be available


    In total I just picked 11 shots covering a mix, some included to give context of the environment I'm shooting in.

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/50735232@N06/


    Minor post processing on the following (white balance)
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/50735232@N06/4659412443/

    Following not shot handheld, supported by a bench
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/50735232@N06/4660041782/


    I do have to thank everyone for their advice on trying out some things, already have and will be eager to try out other techniques in the field when I get my camera back (long story). I admit one mistake I made, and pretty much realised when shooting, was my flash was stuck on 14mm zoom - wasn't until I got home to check it out that I found the flipout diffuser had been left out (had shown someone the unit, but in all honesty my fault for not checking before remounting).

  14. #14
    Member KhenG's Avatar
    Join Date
    21 Oct 2009
    Location
    Perth
    Posts
    11
    Mentioned
    0 Post(s)
    Tagged
    0 Thread(s)
    just 2 cents on this post.

    The shots are clear, but I would suggest looking into what Brodie suggested above "to set your flash to Second Curtain Sync, so the flash goes off at the end of the exposure." That would basically give your images some life rather than a freezed action. But this totally depends on what creative shot you are after.

  15. #15
    Administrator ricktas's Avatar
    Join Date
    24 Jun 2007
    Location
    Hobart
    Posts
    15,137
    Mentioned
    8 Post(s)
    Tagged
    1 Thread(s)
    Agree re using flash to create the result you are probably seeking. You can also use flash to lighten your subject and darken the background to make your subjects stand out more. Have a look at the Strobist forum here on AP for some guidance in using flash.

    Overall though, you have some really good photos on your flickr page, and honing your skills, including flash as an option, will see you improve steadily.

  16. #16
    Member
    Threadstarter
    Watchamacallit's Avatar
    Join Date
    09 May 2010
    Location
    Sydney
    Posts
    94
    Mentioned
    0 Post(s)
    Tagged
    0 Thread(s)
    Thanks for the feedback and the positive feedback.

    @KhenG
    I had a go at the second curtain, but all the motion blur trails I didn't really like or get a feel for it. Possibly just my technique, but they looked more chaotic than artistic in describing movement. Was also a problem with dancers in the background as being out of focus, they really just became a blob and detracted from the shot. If I can find opportunities for better conditions to try in (to make it easier for myself), I'll give it a shot again - maybe try and find that have a desired effect and base myself of those settings.

    @ricktas
    I'll try turning up the flash again in some shots as I'm slowly discovering the brightness on the LCD is different to on the monitors at home, so I feel I'm undercompensating. Also learning to prevent the shadow casting in using the flash too, which I've noticed in a few shots. Would there be any recommendations on bounce cards? At the moment I feel like I'm using a card more often (aka pieces of flash card from an arts and crafts store with elastic bands) rather than the diffuser.

  17. #17
    Administrator ricktas's Avatar
    Join Date
    24 Jun 2007
    Location
    Hobart
    Posts
    15,137
    Mentioned
    8 Post(s)
    Tagged
    1 Thread(s)
    Quote Originally Posted by Watchamacallit View Post
    Thanks for the feedback and the positive feedback.

    @KhenG
    I had a go at the second curtain, but all the motion blur trails I didn't really like or get a feel for it. Possibly just my technique, but they looked more chaotic than artistic in describing movement. Was also a problem with dancers in the background as being out of focus, they really just became a blob and detracted from the shot. If I can find opportunities for better conditions to try in (to make it easier for myself), I'll give it a shot again - maybe try and find that have a desired effect and base myself of those settings.

    @ricktas
    I'll try turning up the flash again in some shots as I'm slowly discovering the brightness on the LCD is different to on the monitors at home, so I feel I'm undercompensating. Also learning to prevent the shadow casting in using the flash too, which I've noticed in a few shots. Would there be any recommendations on bounce cards? At the moment I feel like I'm using a card more often (aka pieces of flash card from an arts and crafts store with elastic bands) rather than the diffuser.

    learn to use the histogram. You can make it display on your LCD and it can be a great tool to understand under/over exposure among other things

  18. #18
    Member
    Threadstarter
    Watchamacallit's Avatar
    Join Date
    09 May 2010
    Location
    Sydney
    Posts
    94
    Mentioned
    0 Post(s)
    Tagged
    0 Thread(s)
    Quote Originally Posted by ricktas View Post
    learn to use the histogram. You can make it display on your LCD and it can be a great tool to understand under/over exposure among other things
    Will / am doing this now. Hopefully in the future I can provide some feedback on the things learnt, trialled, etc.

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •