Dancing on a Wall

ND – Grey, Cold, Windy, Blue

The Chinese New Year Celebrations…
…are always a loud and colourful spectacular every year, and on Sunday 6th February 2011 I was able to wander down to the Arcadian in Birmingham’s Chinese Quarter to watch them ring in the New Year of the Rabbit.

Birmingham’s Chinese New Year celebrations are always a popular event, and unless you can get there early then the crowds gather and photographic vantage points vanish. I eventually found a spot though, at an unusual angle, directly to one side but above the stage on the balcony that wraps itself around. Mrs ND and I managed to worm our way to the front of the balcony and maintain a view across the crowds and to the stage, but at a slightly skewed angle.

It wasn’t the perfect position as there were curtain walls obscuring the rear of the stage, and some of the acts had to take advantage of them as plate spinning in the windy conditions was looking tricky, but we persevered anyway.

Some of the acts were slow and yoga inspired, but others were more frenetic and seemingly less traditional.

One such act involved Break-Dancing
…and as I photographed the action I realised that there were three main perspectives that the action could be viewed from. The first was the perspective that most people enjoyed as they stood in the crowd in front of the stage, looking up at the raised platform as the three dancers spun around on the floor. This was an obvious angle that even the pro-looking photographers that I spotted seemed to employ.

The second view was from The Gods which was my vantage point. Being able to look down on the action, albeit from one side, may not have been a big advantage over the standard crowd view for many acts, but when these dancers were spinning around on their backs it seemed like the better choice.

The third view was unique and deservedly well-earned. It was the view that the dancers themselves enjoyed, spinning and swirling to the thumping music, looking up to the sky, intense focus on the matter in hand. This view was very different from that of any member of the audience, with the world twisting and twirling around them, and gravity pulling their bodies from different angles as they flipped, rotated and bounced around on the tip of one limb or another.

When it came to post processing I decided to mix my minority view of the event with the dancers own unique perspective to try to convey a sense of disconnect in the moment.

Dancer 1

Nikon D700 'FX', Nikkor 70-300mm F4.5-5.6G AF-S VR @ 200mm, Exposure 1/250 @ F5.3, ISO 640, He's break-dancing on a floor, but I wanted to twist the perspective and had a good vantage point above and to one side of the stage.

Dancer 2

Nikon D700 'FX', Nikkor 70-300mm F4.5-5.6G AF-S VR @ 200mm, Exposure 1/250 @ F5.3, ISO 640, This almost looks like he threw himself at a wall.

There’s a feeling of Free Running or Parkour here.

Dancer 3

Nikon D700 'FX', Nikkor 70-300mm F4.5-5.6G AF-S VR @ 185mm, Exposure 1/250 @ F5, ISO 640

Dancer 4

Nikon D700 'FX', Nikkor 70-300mm F4.5-5.6G AF-S VR @ 185mm, Exposure 1/250 @ F5, ISO 640, All of these shots could have been improved with a higher shutter speed as the action was rapid and there's noticeable blur. I could easily have pushed the ISO higher on the excellent D700 to compensate for a faster shutter, and probably had a little leeway with the shutter speed anyway as I process RAW files so could probably have pulled a bit more out of the extra gloom in post-procesing. However, it's not lost on me that a large 'pro' F2.8 lens like Nikon's 70-200mm F2.8 would have lapped these shots up without blinking.

Dancer 5

Nikon D700 'FX', Nikkor 70-300mm F4.5-5.6G AF-S VR @ 185mm, Exposure 1/250 @ F5, ISO 640, ...And back to reality. This is which way up the dancers really were.

I recently asked Do I need more gear?
…and this has been another occasion that I wished I was using the Nikkor 70-200mm F2.8. None of these shots required the extra reach of the Nikkor 70-300mm F4.5-5.6G VR that I was using, but that constant F2.8 along with a slightly higher ISO (probably 800 would have been enough – which the excellent Nikon D700 can achieve with ease) would have overcome the motion blur.


Have fun,

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(c) Nakedigit 2011


About nakedigit

I have legs and a camera. I also occasionally use a passport. The camera with my brightest lenses can almost (almost) see in the dark. So the only thing stopping me from putting it all together regardless of where and when i am is, well, me really! However, when i don't completely muck it up the results may end up here on this blog and also my Flickr page. I now Twitter and a website is coming... ND August 2010
This entry was posted in Birmingham, Birmingham UK, blue, Event, Faces, Nakedigit, People, Photography and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Dancing on a Wall

  1. Pingback: Focus on Imaging, NEC, March 2011 | Nakedigit

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