Low light photography while photographing performers

While I was working at a corporate event recently, one aspect of the event involved photographing performers that were entertaining the guests. A company of Chinese acrobats put on several exhibitions involving different talents.

The event space was dark and the performance area was lit with stage lighting for ambiance and spot lighting on the acts. I had no restrictions concerning the use of flash and I did a mixture of images with the flash and low light photography. The flash stops action and creates a crisp image, but it reduces the ambient light and colors. The existing low light photography keeps all the colors but requires a higher ISO setting and a fast enough shutter speed to prevent all but a minimum of motion blur.

Today’s cameras all change ISO settings quickly and have much better noise reduction than older models, but it’s still important not to push farther than is needed to maximize the quality of the file … especially if there’s a chance that the client might want an enlargement.

Here are two images of a gymnast who displayed tremendous upper body strength and control.

Chinese acrobat performing
Chinese acrobat shot using the existing light at ISO 1000. ©Larry Shapiro
Chinese acrobat performing
The amount of movement during the performance was slow and measured which allowed for a shutter speed of 1/30 of a second without losing clarity. ©Larry Shapiro

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