Pushing The Limits With Available Light

I often cringe when I think about available light indoor photos. Sure, if it’s a static subject and you can use your tripod then that’s all good. No problem with a long exposure. But what about those more frequent times when you are at, oh I don’t know, let’s say your daughter’s year end dance recital that is the only time you’ve been able to see her school routine this year and you just know the lighting is going to be terrible?

That is exactly the situation I found myself in this past weekend. I was very worried. I really wanted to get some great photos of her and her dance group so we could look back and remember the day. And of course the theater was going to be dimly lit. At least from a camera’s point of view. What to do…what to do.

I decided I would go for it in manual mode. Normally I shoot in aperture priority mode so I get my depth of field but this time I was more concerned with being able to control the light precisely. No small feat for sure. I ended up really having to boost my ISO up to the upper limits of my Canon 50D. ISO 2500 and up. Naturally these gave me some very noisy photos. But, better a noisy photo than no photo at all. I was able to clean up the noise in Lightroom and still keep the photos reasonably sharp. Most of the blur I ended up with was motion blur due to the dancers moving faster than I anticipated. This worked in most of the photos though giving a sense of movement and flow to the images.


Motion Blur





This one is my favorite of the day.

You can clearly see the motion blur on the dancers in the background. Also there is nice motion blur on my daughter’s legs and the prop kite she is holding in the foreground but her upper body is nicely in focus. I knew as soon as I pressed the shutter button that this would be my favorite.

The lighting, even though it was quite dark, worked out fairly well for me. I didn’t have to adjust the exposure during post processing although there was quite a bit of noise in the darker areas of the photo. At ISO 2500 on my 50D I expected it but it came out nicely with Lightroom.

I really like this photo. It gives a sense that she is leading the rest of them through the dance.








Here are a few more from the day that really caught my eye and made me smile.

Dreaming Of The Dance

Contemplating the upcoming dance.

RightBeginning Pose.


Pose!Ending Pose.

Group Dance

Group Dance to Uptown Funk. All Dancers from the session. Over 100 of them!

All in all it was a great experience to add to my collection of experiences from which to draw upon in my photographic life. And on a personal note, I’ve never seen her dance better than she did this day. Proud of you Sweat Pea. Great job.