“For this session I wanted to capture a dancer’s grace and motion. I have seen other tutorials on how to achieve the dust and dancer effect, but did not want to deal with indoor cleanup. Shooting into a large building provided a dark backdrop without the need for a physical backdrop or enclosed space.
We had a lot of fun with this shoot. The model would hold a pose that allowed us to cover her in flour. We would then step out of frame and she would perform a jump, spin, or other dance move. Timing is important in this so expect many shots that do not have the right spread of flour.”
Darrel’s Photography Tip:
To achieve this affect, you’ll need to shoot into a darkened area. As mentioned above, I used a barn. This allowed me to create the dark background and still use higher shutter speeds to stop the motion of the dancer.
I turned off auto-focus and used live preview, which allowed me to focus on the dancer before she jumped and meant that I could time the shutter release when the dancer is in action. If auto-focus is on you will miss the shot while auto-focus tries to find the focal point.
The lighting setup is simple. I used two speed lights behind the dancer at 45 degrees pointing toward the camera and a reflector in front of the dancer for fill. The reflector was able to catch some outdoor light and push it back onto the dancer.
We used 35 pounds of flour over the two hours we were shooting. The dancer was tired at the end, but the cold was actually more problematic than the length of the session, as there are built-in rest breaks while covering her for each shot.
By shooting into a shaded area you get a dark background that will provide the separation for the flour. This also allows you to shoot outdoors so you can minimize the after-shoot cleanup. The end result is amazing photos showcasing grace, motion, and the beauty of dance.
Still need help with using flash? Check out this guide that’s all about using flash in portraiture photography (and get started on your way to creating breathtaking images like these ones!).
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