I should start off by giving a great big Thank You to 500px, Sara Collaton Community Manager of 500px and of coarse the National Ballet of Canada for giving me a once in a lifetime opportunity of photographing their rehearsal for the upcoming performance of the Nutcracker Suite. I was really excited when I found out that myself, Sara and three other Toronto based photographers were going to be permitted to shoot these incredible dancers. Having reflected on the event for the past few days I came to realize that I had two completely different experiences during this event on a personal level as well as one as an amateur photographer. I'll start with the personal one.
Having been a professional musician in the past and played in the band of a number of community theatre musicals, I found myself to be quite at home in a backstage environment. The Ballets rehearsal space was large with soft lighting and a professional calmness that only comes from experienced people. I made sure to stop taking photos every once in a while and enjoy these incredible dancers. Viewing life just through the lens can make you miss out on the bigger picture. I wished I could have stayed longer, the photography side of this event was a whole different animal all together.
I mentioned the "soft lighting", it comprised of florescent bulbs facing up towards the ceiling with a massive glass wall covered only in a large sheer drape. Very pleasing on the eyes but not my Canon 60D's sensor! In order to freeze the action I had to shoot wide-open and pretty high ISO's, 2500-3200. I love my camera but it doesn't handle high ISO's like the new 5D mkIII. I did the very best I could cleaning up the noise and chose to process most of them in B&W. Due to the danger to both dancers and photographers we were limited to just a couple spots to shoot from so I firmly planted my butt in a fairly neutral place, laid out my four lenses beside me and went to work. I ended up taking 727 images, narrowed them down to 25 for the Ballet to approve of then selected my 10 best.
Even with the difficulties in shooting I am so glad that I went and from what I hear, 500px may be doing more of these events in other cities so keep your eyes and ears open for you may get a chance to go on a photographic adventure of a lifetime...I know I won't forget it!