A Photographer's Lightbox

Posts tagged “Cary Ballet Company

A Matter of Trust

Dancers Reynu Wood & Joshua O’Connor

Cary Ballet Company 2020 “Spring Works” – Space & Tech Rehearsal Online Gallery

Cary Arts Center 11 March 2020


Before The Ghost Light #2

Dancer Hannah Case

Cary Ballet ADC/IBC Theater Preview

Cary Arts Center 12 March 2020 – Galleries Coming Soon



2020 ADC/ IBC Preview #3

Dancer Reynu Wood

Wednesday 11 March 2020  Cary Arts Center



Grace & Dignity

Raleigh Memorial Auditorium   2 June 2017

A Dance 4 All Seasons Showcase

Raleigh Memorial Auditorium   Saturday, June 3rd  11:00, 3:00 & 7:00

Tickets available via tututix.com/caryballetconservatory

Musing On A New Year

The intro page of my web site needed new images for a New Year

The Muse provides and I abide




No Muse Is Bad News

I don’t understand Muses but Artists need them

This one, Terpsichore, is telling me to get to work

Snow Days are no excuse to squander the inspiration of a Muse


Cary Ballet Company  “The Nutcracker”  Space & Tech Rehearsal

12 Dec 2016 – Cary Arts Center

Stage Light #22

Cary Ballet Conservatory – Professional Training Program

YAGP Preview  Cary Arts Center  14 Dec 2016


Stage Light #8

“Paquita” Cary Ballet Company

Saturday Evening  12 March 2016  Cary Arts Center

343 CBC Sat 7 PM

Portraits At Rehearsal

Tech Rehearsals can be long and tedious – “Scenes At The Ballet”  Cary Ballet  2016

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A tilt of the head, a hand gesture and oceans and centuries disappear.

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Space & Tech Rehearsal  “Scenes at the Ballet”  Cary Ballet Company March 2016

Choreography by Mariaelena Ruiz


“Behind The Scenes”  Robert Demachy Fr.

U.S. Publication No.16 Camera Work 1906

2016 Spring Showcase – Lobby Card

Each production of Cary Ballet & 3D Jazz Companies gets a 20×30 Lobby Card

I love to make them but agonize over the image choice – too many wonderful dancers

4x6 2016 Spring Gala



Deja Vu – Stage Light #3

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Space & Tech Rehearsal  La Bayadere, Act III – Kingdom of The Shades

Cary Ballet Company Spring Gala 12 March 2014 Cary Arts Center

Deja Vu – Performance Portrait #15


071 CBC VoSP Sun 3 PMSunday Matinee “Visions of Sugarplums” Cary Ballet Company 20 December 2015

Deja Vu – Performance Portrait #14

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Sunday Matinee “Visions of Sugarplums” Cary Ballet Company 21 December 2014

Deja Vu – Performance Portrait #8

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 “Coppelia Act III Waltz of the Hours”

Space & Tech Rehearsal – Cary Ballet Company 14 March 2015 Cary Arts Center

Deja Vu – Performance Portrait #2

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Cary Ballet Company “Cinderella” 14 June 2014 Cary Arts Center

Deja Vu – Performance Portrait #3

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La Bayadere, Act III – Kingdom of The Shades

Cary Ballet Company Spring Gala 15 March 2014 Cary Arts Center

Two Pirouettes Across Six Decembers


Matinee Performance “Visions of Sugarplums” Cary Ballet Company 20 December 2015

Studio Rehearsal “Gift For The Little Match Girl” Cary Ballet Company 12 December 2010

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Reluctant Retiree

Reluctant Retiree

I know how she feels, 3 days of unseen photographs lure me but it’s been a very long week.  Time to let go, for awhile. My dreams may also be about villains and heroes. More likely, I’ll see the angels and muses I watched dance this week.

Matinee Performance “Visions of Sugarplums” Cary Ballet Company 20 December 2015



Clara’s Dream – Part II


Final Performance Sunday at Cary Arts Center

Saturday Matinee “Visions of Sugarplums” Cary Ballet Company 19 December 2015



Party Girl


I’ve seen her father patiently waiting during weekend class and diligently making videos of rehearsals.  At dress rehearsal, he was next to me at the stage apron, making photographs. I admire him and told him I would try to make a good photograph of his daughter in performance.

Friday Evening Performance “Visions of Sugarplums” Cary Ballet Company 18 December 2015


Spanish Dancer


Space & Tech Rehearsal “Visions of Sugarplums” Cary Ballet Company 16 December 2015



Clara’s Dream


Space & Tech Rehearsal “Visions of Sugarplums” Cary Ballet Company 16 December 2015



Winter Sun Part II

Web 069 Studio Rehearsal 2015

About a million years, around 1965, I spent a lot of Saturdays in the Cleveland Museum of Art.  In awe. Bus fare was 50 cents, the Museum free. Sometimes, it was after morning classes at Cooper School of Art where local High School students could take 8 weeks of class for $16.  I didn’t have $16 so I earned tuition by modeling for the other students.  After two classes, I went to the other side of the easel.  Most of the teachers were faculty at the Cleveland Institute of Art so it was a master class. It was where I learned to draw, to make portraits. Now, instead of conte crayon or charcoal, I draw with a camera. It is just the same except that I’ve 50 years of empathy to share.  It is Art that allows us to be human.

Studio Rehearsal “Visions of Sugarplums” Cary Ballet Company 12 December 2015



Winter Sun in Studio A

11x14 070 Studio Rehearsal 2015

Studio Rehearsal “Visions of Sugarplums” Cary Ballet Company 12 December 2015



Morning Class

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Student in Master Class with Justin Allen at Cary Ballet Conservatory 27 September 2015

Photographing a studio class is dramatically different than a theater. Theaters have visual drama with a proscenium and stage lighting. Studios have windows to parking lots and industrial lighting. Visually, it’s the difference between Notre Dame and Costco. But in studio, in class, is where I began to understand the work ethic of dancers and understand it is where their work is done and dancers are made. It is extraordinary.

Crossing the threshold of a studio, with barre and mirror, something does happen akin to entering a theater. The play is the thing and all else is left outside. There is a common experience because regardless of ability, class is a constant in a dancers life. Theater discipline applies because class is also a performance. And why I’m there.


Portrait of a Dancer

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Cary Ballet Company “Visions of Sugarplums” 15 December 2012.

Last spring, I deleted some online galleries to avoid increased hosting costs. I thought no one was looking. Most were 2011 and 2012 rehearsals and performances by Cary Ballet Company and 3D Project Jazz.  Right away, I got e-Mails from Moms asking where they’d gone. They wanted to order photographs that now weren’t available. Of course, it was the busiest time of year with portraits, recitals and graduations.  I promised to restore them by summers end. Ironically, a week later my hosting provider increased the capacity of my current plan. C’est la vie.

Since I only keep the DNG or Digital Negative file, I needed to make new JPEG files for upload. Which meant pulling up hundreds of files per performance, updating the Adobe Camera Raw processing version, and practically, a new edit. The bad news was, weeks of work. A lot of weeks. Still working on it. The good news was, it gave me a chance to improve the old versions. Editing with 3 more years of experience makes a difference. The new versions are better..

Theater, dance and music all exist in time. A photograph is instant and timeless. The camera extends my vision and enables me to discover what I can’t see with just my eyes.  I want to hold the moment that is an instant and never the same.  I want to show the audience what they can’t see. I want to tell all the story.

At rehearsals, I learn lighting cues, staging, costumes and choreography.  A bright stage with dancers in white tutus ( aka reflectors) is very different than low key lighting and dark costumes. Camera meters are useless so it’s all manual exposure and experience.

During performance, I’m shooting from rear of theater, alternating between two camera bodies.  My longest and heaviest lens is on a tripod, the shorter other is handheld.  With the two, I can cover the entire stage/proscenium or zoom to a near head shot.  I adjust aperture & ISO up and down as needed. Sounds easy but like hitting a baseball, it ain’t. Anticipate big exposure jumps on quick lighting cues and change settings quickly, in the dark. Low light and movement means fast shutter speeds, high ISO and large apertures.  High ISO means lower dynamic range and more image noise. Large apertures ( f2.8 & f4 ) means shallow Depth of Field so it’s very easy to miss focus. At long focal lengths ( I’m in the back), one dancer can be in focus but not the one if front or behind her.  In the image above, my Depth of Field was about 10 inches so her face can be sharply focused but her parasol will be soft. The tighter I zoom, the easier it is to miss.  And when costumes and lighting are close in value and color, lack of contrast makes focus a real “maybe”.

Time is the other challenge. Each piece lasts for a few minutes. A move may occur just once. I have to decide what to cover.  If I follow one dancer, holding focus and watching, I sacrifice the others. It’s why, besides rotating casts, I photograph all the performances. I wish everyone had a solo.  Don’t think, just watch and shoot, timing is everything. Normally, I average about 2000 to 2,300 exposures per full length performance, double for a matinee and evening performance, about 12-15K total for Christmas and Spring, 20K for annual recital. No high speed shutter, all single exposure. I’m watching and listening to the music and I know the dancers.

Shooting is the shortest part of the process. Transferring memory cards to my workstation takes about an hour or so of download each day.  Rough editing averages 2 to 3 hours per 1 hour of performance.  Batching out JPEGs and uploading online, about one hour per gallery.  Then it’s just adding pricing and IPTC description data.

  I delete about 80 to 85% of images during rough edits.  Lots of reasons. I was early or late on the shutter. I missed focus. My exposure was off. The composition doesn’t work. The move isn’t expressive  Out of sync. Out of character. Etcetera, etcetera, etcetera.  What looks good to the eye can look awful when recorded at 1/320 sec.

So why put up with his torture?  Magic happens. The hardest part of editing is not stopping to fully explore and edit an image like this when you’re working towards a promised deadline for the entire performance.

 There are eight large framed photographs on my office walls. Six are dancers, all essentially portraits of our better angels.

In The Moment

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I started writing about photography recently (“The Other Blog”) mostly to help some friends and students understand some principles of the Craft.  That part is the “How”.  Gaining that knowledge gives you a chance at the other part, the “Why” or Art.  I was going to write about making this image. About why it’s important to learn and understand lighting, composition and posing.  All those things are important but still, mostly craft.  After staring at this blank narrative for a long time, I realized everything I had to say was in the photograph. The key is something no camera can provide. Universally, every dancer I’ve met, from high school students to principals in major companies, said the performance on stage, those few minutes of a lifetime, make it all worth it.  It is, the moment, the clarity, the poetry, the magic of the best expression of ourselves, creating something that transcends the mortal and the specific. Which is why, as an artist, the few minutes of my lifetime it took to make this portrait are worth the years it took to reach them. The proof print of this image is much richer than any electronic display. That image, that moment, I hope her children will share.

Senior Portrait Session, Cary Ballet Conservatory, April 2015

Stage Light II

0523 Tuesday Dress

Photographed at Dress Rehearsal of “A Mermaids Dream”

2015 Cary Ballet Conservatory Annual Recital