Panic and recovery at the Dance Recital

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

  1. fractal

    fractal TalkEmount All-Pro 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.






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  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).
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  3. fractal

    fractal TalkEmount All-Pro 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!!
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  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.
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  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.
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