Point Your Toes

There’s something really special about taking good photographs of beautiful children for their parents. As an example, “Coppelia” was performed by the Lodi Ballet in 2016 at Hutchins Street Square. I remember laughing to myself each time I knew the camera had grabbed another satisfied expression of accomplishment.

I was sitting about half-way back from the stage (75 ft.) with the trusty 70-200mm f/2.8 on a cropped-sensor camera. I played with the manual settings for a while, then settled on an ISO of 2500, aperture of f/3.2 and shutter speed of 1/200th of a second. That ISO gave me good light sensitivity with only modest noise. The aperture gave me a slightly better depth of field than f/2.8. And those settings produced a shutter speed slower than I preferred (1/200th), but with a good monopod for stability and lots of concentration … it turned out OK.

Three things to know when shooting an event like this with theatrical lighting.

  1. Inexpensive lenses change their maximum aperture as you zoom in and out. The best lenses maintain one maximum aperture opening throughout the zoom range. They give you a constant, reliable exposure.
  2. Always shoot in the “M” Manual exposure mode. You were born with a complex visual system that makes automatic exposure corrections within a large dynamic range. Your camera is good, but stupid in comparison. In AUTO, it will set the exposure based on the average amount of light that it’s metering. That may be why the pale face or white costume of your little one is over exposed.
  3. Learn to shot in Camera Raw (rather than compressed .JPG). It’s a common option and uses everything your fine camera is able to capture. Purchase or get a subscription to Lightroom (or other good software) and you’ll be able to get the most out of your photos. Since I don’t usually have a deadline, I spend about as much time culling and processing my photos as I do taking them.


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