Dance Like Nobody’s Watching

by Jun 10, 2019

So this class I’m taking offers challenges, and the most recent one was multiple exposures, preferably in camera. This is about as far out of my standard type of photography as we can possibly get short of shooting, oh, nudes.

Did you realize most modern digital cameras allow for multiple exposures in camera? I didn’t, but you can. I spent some time thinking it through, and came up with an idea, something I could do in the tabletop studio I’ve been developing. I wasn’t at all sure I could pull it off in camera.

I had been experimenting with my lighting setup and changing out some of the supports to give me more height and stability, and using a piece of Inuit Soapstone carving from my collection as the model. I thought it would be fun to try to do a multiple exposure of it to see if I could give it a feel of motion, but I knew getting it right in camera would be tough.

As it turned out, I was right, I could never quite get the different exposures looking quite right, so I fell back to a more traditional multi-image shoot that I loaded into Photoshop, stripped out the background, and merged and arranged that way.

The end result is something I’m calling Dance Like Nobody’s Watching. The carving is an Inuit dancing bear, carved in soapstone by artist Moe Pootoogook and one of the earliest carvings I added to my collection way back around 2001. The original carving has a sense of movement to it, and I wanted to try to amplify that.

The Studio

The tabletop studio has occupied much of my photography time recently, such as I’ve had. As someone who is primarily shooting 500+mm outside in natural light finding subjects that tend to fly away when they see me, shifting to an inside venue where I have to do the lighting and set the subject and I’m using macro and wide angle lenses — this is a huge shift for me, which is a big part of why I’m doing it. It is making me think about photography differently and explore areas I’m not comfortable in and learn new skills.

I think that’s crucial to growth in any craft, and this is one way I’m pushing myself in new directions. So far, when I’m not muttering under my breath trying to figure out some technical issue — like, for instance, dealing with specular glare on polished rock carvings (hint: diffusion fabric) — I’m having a lot of fun.

Here’s a quick image of the studio. It’s a small space, literally on a part of the desk in my office, and it’s too small for me to use a tripod with the camera or set up much that isn’t literally attached to the desk. I have most recently added a C-stand at the back where I can keep it out of the way with a couple of booms for the background and the ring light, and that actually cut clutter and added stability to the setup at the cost of not being able to pack it into a couple of boxes between use — but I like that.

I’ll write more about this setup once I’m sure I have it in a semi-permanent setup (aka “two weeks and I haven’t replaced something or thrown it at a wall”), but this should give you a quick look at how I’m setting up for this kind of shoot right now.