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Fascinating, Fanciful, Fantastic – Capturing Moments at the Circus
Still life and landscape photography are becoming too boring or too less of a challenge? The weather is not as appealing to capture the outside life? When something is beautiful, but always the same, why not try capturing some movements? And why not jump into the cold water and start with a supreme discipline and the ultimate movements – let’s go to the circus!
To take a decent photograph at the circus or a musical is not as simple as it might sound. The given environment is full of obstacles that force you to consciously deal with things like ISO values or exposure times of your camera.
As mentioned, the environment of a circus is not the best for photography. Dimly lights in one moment, flickering headlamps in the other, rapidly changing lightening conditions paired with colour spectacles, breathtakingly fast moving performers and animals – all in all this gives the photographer a maximum challenge. Added to that, you most likely just have one chance to take a good shot and the movement is done, in contrast to take photographs of a landscape or other still life. There probably will not be enough time to think about how to take a good shot, how to arrange your destined composition or how to deal with given lightening in that moment.
First of all, you would have to ask beforehand whether it is allowed to take photos whilst performance. Now, when that is sorted and you have officially permission to, the next thing to deal with is the preferred seating. The closer you get to the arena (or stage), the more detailed your photographs appear to be. Also: Keep in mind to not use a flash while being in the circus!
Special camera settings you might adjust beforehand include activating anti-flickering mode, ISO to 1600 (or higher), activating RAW format, automatic aperture control, continuous shooting, putting white balance settings to daylight (alternatively to artificial light), high ISO noise reduction to “strong” (thanks to post-processing there is always the possibility to reduce noise afterwards as well – rather a slightly faded picture than a blurred or smudged one, it is not as obvious and therefore bothersome) and deactivating tonal value priority. What might also help is a fast shutter speed.
A good tip when photographing an acrobatic show is to use the continuous advance, or continuous shooting, setting. It is almost impossible to capture this one best moment in the arena or on the stage when performers are rapidly and swiftly moving. Taking various pictures at the same time can help. Even if only one of them is good enough, chances to capture the destined moment are higher when you shoot more than one photo in one take.
Another tip: use the shutter speed in a quick and flexible manner and do not let the camera do it automatically. Change it yourself and do it consciously. The faster the performance and movements is, the shorter the shutter speed should be. Check the histogram whether you need to adjust the ISO value and aperture completely open.
At first, photography at the circus or a musical sounds way too complicated to even attempt. But it indoctrinates and trains your skills tremendously, so give it a try! For example at Cirque du Soleil – the artists perform their breath-taking show around the whole world throughout the whole year!
Posted in Creativity, Travel, Photography on Apr 15, 2019