A Dancer, a Hula Hoop, and the Moon


Sometimes concepts work as planned, sometimes they go awry, and other times, they just keep getting better as the session progresses. Here is one such case of the latter.

I recruited the super-talented Ariana to help me attempt to fulfill the concept of a light-up hula hoop at night with some subtle strobe┬álighting. This was pretty much a standard-recipe night shoot, except for the glowing hula hoop that we wanted to add. So the balance between ambient light and strobe had to be a delicate balance, or it wouldn’t work, and the shutter speed had to be dialed down enough to blur the hoop. It had been a beautiful sunny August day, but then as we were gathering up our stuff to do the shoot, rain came. Luckily, most of the rain passed to the east, so our very brief shower was pretty short-lived. As the darker clouds moved out, the lighter clouds followed, providing just enough blue pastel to provide an interesting canvas. While I was hoping for some pink, the blue cast was quite lovely. We got everything into place and then awaited enough darkness to give the glowing hoop some contrast. I decided to point the camera to the southwest, to catch a little of the afterglow of the setting sun.

After a good bit of trial-and-error, I settled in on f8, with exposures ranging from 1 second to 4 seconds, at ISO 100. This provided just the amount of blur from the hoop that I wanted. Then I lit Ariana with a Canon 430 EXII Speedlite at about 60┬░, triggered by a Canon 580 EXII on-camera. I fired them at ETTL the entire time, with ratios of 1:4-1:8 fill/main. Toward the end of the shoot, I opened up the aperture to f6.3 for some consistency. As the clouds started moving through, the big surprise was a wonderful crescent moon suddenly appearing over Ariana. We were both quite pleased with the results; what you see here is a very small representation of the shots we got.

Tech: Canon 40D, Sigma 17-50mm f2.8, Canon 430 EXII, Canon 580 EXII; f6.3-8, 1-4 sec., ISO 100; flash 1:4-1:8 ETTL ratio.


A Dancer, a Hula Hoop, and the Moon — 1 Comment

  1. So many marvelous elements, each one terrific alone – but all together like this… stupendous! Such graceful and joyful movements and poses. Kudos to the model AND the photographer.

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