April 08, 2003

Dancer Test

Digital original
The final test for the Canon EOS 10D proved to be very different from my figure work; I'd photographed Victoria practicing in a dance studio before, and decided that a similar session would be the perfect test to push the digital camera as far as possible. With my figure and architectural work, I almost never work with motion, and, even when I do decide to explore that avenue, it is always under my direction. For this session, Victoria was in a master class preparing for a National Ballet exam so, while I was free to photograph, it wasn't appropriate (or permissible) to interrupt and request a pose be repeated - this is about as close to a sport's venue as I am ever likely to work.
Digital original
I really enjoyed working with the dancers (there were three in the room); it was quite challenging to work with the movement and choreography that they were practicing, even though I was impaired somewhat by my lack of familiarity with the art. A distinct advantage of the digital camera was the ability to continue to photograph long after I would have run out of film; when the dancers were repeating the same motion over and over, I could record each cycle and then, back at home, choose the most successful image of the group. To some degree, this might seem like a machine-gun approach - shoot now, edit later, but it wasn't that crude. Each set of movement the dances went through had their peaks, and it was that pinnacle that I sought to record. The ability to make many sets of each position greatly increased the quality of the final images.
Digital original
With all that being true, in the end my favourite images were the pauses between the dancing; Victoria fixing her hair, the dancers at the bar waiting for the next position to begin. It is this kind of moment that Degas excelled at capturing. There is just such an elegance to the space as a whole, dedicated as it is to the celebration of the beauty of movement, that it seems the only way to hint at that is to make still images of the still moments in between.

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