Photographing fire dancers in low light
Advancements in digital photography used to be measured by the megapixels that its sensor can capture for each image.
Thank goodness that race has ended at least in the DSLR market.
Now, it’s about how good the image looks at high ISO.
It’s not that I have an aversion to digital noise in an image.
I lived with digital noise for years when I worked in news because there are lots of instances when flash photography is not allowed yet I had to had to produce an image to illustrate what took place.
These days the ISO setting on my Canon 5DMarkII is never set higher than 400.
Even though I know the camera handles low light very well, I prefer to ‘light’ my subjects if it’s a portrait for better control.
I find if I’m doing a portrait, I want to be in control of the lighting anyway except in the case of this Saturday at the close of the 2013 Lunar Festival in Riverside..
Considerations Besides Exposure
Anytime I find myself at an event that is packed, it means my coverage is severely limited.
People were crammed ten deep behind me, since I was at the front where the barricade starts.
It also meant, I was stuck for the duration of the performance with no ability to move about.
I should have asked for such access, maybe next year…
The other issue is that I won’t be able to light or control the lighting unless I hired one or two assistants to be be my ‘voice-actuated light stands.’
Setting up light stands and firing my lights with radio remotes still meant I need helpers to keep an eye on my gear so it doesn’t sprout legs and walk away in the crowd.
Shooting available light after the sun goes down is always a hit and miss.
Illumination and lighting after dark is chosen based on utility and cost efficiency, and never for the sake of making photography easier.
If it were, our lives would be so much easier.
If you had total control over the entire event then you could set up strobes but you have to gel them to get the color temperature as close to the yellow flames as you can.
In my case, I decided to try 2 different approaches: perform a custom white balance and shoot JPEG and raw.