Here is a new gallery of photos from the 2016 Ethnic Dance Festival taken during live performances held at the Palace of Fine Arts in San Francisco.
The Ethnic Dance Festival is annual multi-day dance competition organized by World Arts West. During the festival dance troups perform dances from a wide variety of places and cultures. The performances are conducted to live music performed by muscians using traditional instruments.
A article about the event can be found in the Huffington Post.
The 2019 Festival will be held July 6th, 7th and 13th, 14th at Zellerbach Hall in San Francisco It is a wonderful event for the whole family. Children are welcome and they enjoy the colorful original costumes, music, and energetic dance variations. More information and schedule details can be found on the World Arts West website.
Photographing the dancers live in the theater is very technically challenging In spite of the stage lighting, the setting is actually quite dark as far as a camera is concerned. To add to the difficulty I was located at the very rear of the theater and could not disturb the guests Getting proper exposures needed slow shutter settings, wide open apertures, and very high ISO settings on the cameras. All three of these present specific issues.
The long telephotos used (Canon 200-400mm with build in 1.4x teleconverter) also provided for very shallow depth of field in focusing, and focusing in dim light on moving and crossing dancers is a hit and miss situation. Slower shutter settings can lead to motion blur and of course the dancers are not standing still to pose To address this, I tried to time the shots for moments when the action was at a pause. I was also shooting far away from the stage, so the best f/stops I could use were about f/4 to f/5.6.
This leaves only ISO settings to compensate for the dim light. For this I turned to what were likely the two best low light full frame digital cameras of the time - the Canon 1DX2 and the Sony a7S2. The images were shot at ISO setting as high as ISO 12,000. At this high sensitivity there is a fair amount of digital noise that needs to be removed using Adobe Lightroom in post processing. Today there are even better equipment options for low light action photography. My go to camera for this today is the the Sony a9.
If you have a chance take an afternoon this summer and go out and see some of the performances. In an hour or two you will see a dozen completely different dances from all corners of the world.
Please enjoy the Ethnic Dance Festival gallery here. Also please sign-up for notifications when new galleries post, and share this site with friends that may be interested.
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