Panic and recovery at the Dance Recital

Discussion in 'Other Genres' started by fractal, Jun 24, 2014.

  1. fractal

    fractal TalkEmount Hall of Famer Subscribing Member

    Jun 17, 2014
    Southeastern PA
    Let me tell you about my daughter (and son's) dance recital this past Saturday. I purchased a Soligor 200mm 2.8 primarily for this event. The event is held in a classic early 20th century renovated two level theater and it's usually a full house. My wife got the tickets a few weeks ago and told me she was not happy with the seats she got. Typically we sit 10-15 rows back, so now I'm thinking we are even further back. OK - 200mm on my APS-C sensor should work - especially if I can shoot at f/3.5-4.

    So I left my house with the following gear;
    Sony NEX-7
    Soligor 200mm 2.8
    Sigma 19mm 2.8 ( for group shots after the recital ).
    extra battery

    Last minute I decided to bring a 50mm lens. Not sure why - but I was torn between the Sony SEL 50mm 1.8 and the Minolta Rokkor 50mm 1.4. I decided on the SEL because it has OSS but then changed my mind and took the Minolta since it was faster and with a monopod I didn't need stabilization. I hurried out the house with joyful anticipation of watching my children dance on stage and trying out a few of my new toys. That quickly changed when my wife led us to our seats. We were not 20 rows back - we were 2 rows back! "I thought we had bad seats?" I asked her. For her, bad seats meant that our group of 9 would be split up among different rows and section - but they were all up front. I decided to take an aisle seat on the left section.

    As I sat down with the Soligor on my camera, the recital began. The lens was useless at that distance and I started to panic. I decided to switch to the Minolta 50mm - now I was fumbling in the dark, taking the adapter off of the Soligor, juggling with the Minolta, trying to put on the adapter on that lens, finding a spot for the Soligor, putting the Minolta on the NEX-7 - I missed half of the first routine . With the Minolta now on the camera I started to regret not having the Sony 50mm with autofocus. I was all manual focus ( which I would have been with the Soligor ) but the stress of the situation had my wishing for the help of AF like a little boy crying for his Mama. I used Focus Peaking a lot and love it, but it's not perfect. I found myself shooting then constantly checking the results. Some good, some not. More panic setting in. I remembered I had the Sigma 19mm. "too wide" I thought. "Yeah, but the wide view will make focusing more acurate" I countered to myself. Next thing you know, I was fumbling again - taking off the Minolta for the Sigma - my wife glaring at me like "what the h*ll are you doing?".

    At that's how it went for the rest of the show. I was switching between those two lenses. I was enoying the AF of the Sigma and hoping I could crop the 19mm shots without too much loss of IQ but the lighting was challenging. The focus length of the 50mm was a bit tight but much better for where I was sitting. But will I lose too many shots do to being off focus? The recital itself was great ( but long ); we came home late and I stayed up later processing the pictures in LR. I used all types of PP style. Sometimes dramatically reducing contrast, other times upping it. Sometimes going for an HDR look ( which I thought brought out the expression of the faces better ) other times going for a more "out of the camera" look. I also did a few B&W with little NR. The grain - especially from the Minolta, I actually found appealing. Here are a few of my favorite shots...

    These are with the Minolta 50mm 1.4 Rokkor







    These are with the Sigma 19mm 2.8. I did have to do a good bit of cropping on most but overall I thought the images held up.






    • Like Like x 9
  2. Hawkman

    Hawkman TalkEmount All-Pro

    Sep 10, 2013
    Virginia, USA
    Looks to me like you got some very good shots from both lenses. And I know how you feel about thinking you have the wrong FL lens for the job. A month ago now I took the SEL55210 into the National Air & Space Museum and left my bag with the 18-55, MD 28/2.8 and MC 50/1.4 in the car. Big goof.

    As for the two lenses you used, looking at the shots, I'd probably say I prefer the colors and contrast of the Minolta 50mm Rokkor, but the SIgma 19 shots seem maybe just a bit sharper (thanks to that handy AF thingy).
    • Like Like x 1
  3. fractal

    fractal TalkEmount Hall of Famer Subscribing Member

    Jun 17, 2014
    Southeastern PA

    Thanks! After I looked at all my shots I realized that I was getting better with focusing the Minolta as the show went on which confirmed how I felt at the time. Looking back at it, it was really quite fun. For the Sigma I used the AF with Manual magnified peaking adjusting on. By the end of the show I was getting quite good with that as well.

    The more I use the Minolta, the more I love it. The Sony SEL 50mm 1.8 has been my favorite lens but now that the Rokkor showed up, it has been spending a lot of time on the bench.
  4. Deadbear77

    Deadbear77 TalkEmount Hall of Famer Subscribing Member

    Sep 14, 2012
    Northeast Ohio
    Really nice stuff. Like!!
    • Like Like x 1
  5. NkedFatWhiteGuy

    NkedFatWhiteGuy TalkEmount Veteran

    Oct 28, 2013
    Portland, Oregon
    Awh man! I hate fumbling around like that at important family events! I have found myself doing the exact same thing at my nephew's plays and lacrosse games... do frustrating!

    You did an awesome job in the face of adversity! I really like the B&W images you made with the sigma 19mm.
    • Like Like x 1
  6. davect01

    davect01 Super Moderator Subscribing Member

    Aug 20, 2011
    Fountain Hills, AZ
    I've been in the same situation, know your frustration.

    Still you got some nice shots.
    • Like Like x 1
  7. Deadbear77

    Deadbear77 TalkEmount Hall of Famer Subscribing Member

    Sep 14, 2012
    Northeast Ohio
    Now that I look at these again I don't think you could have done a better job.
    • Like Like x 1
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