Movement And Emotion; The Dance Photography Of Jeffrey Dunn Page 2

Dunn's greatest challenge is that no flash photographs are allowed and he must use only the available light appropriate for video cameras. With his Canon EOS 30D and EOS 5D he is entirely attuned to working in such low-light situations, though he's often forced to use a very high ISO (1600). Camera speed settings vary from 1/30 to 1/250 sec while using the widest aperture of his lens, at 2.8. His favorite lenses are a 70-200mm f/2.8, a 24-70mm f/2.8, and a 17-35mm. His lens choice is determined by the flexibility to go from wide angle to telephoto when required.

In many instances the dancers are all over the stage, many in dramatic poses. "Everything needs to be perfect so I use manual exposure and constantly adjust my aperture and shutter speed. I also use auto white balance since the light changes so often, especially in such a rushed situation."

The unusual costumes and positions require that Dunn holds his camera steady, but he doesn't use a tripod because he feels it might inhibit his movement. "Hand holding the camera means I need to capture the very moment when the dancers are just short of stopping or hitting a peak in their performance. I must also photograph without interfering with the integrity of the competition."

For this assignment Dunn chose to shoot JPEGs, knowing that he has to be as exact with his exposures as he would with slide film. He made the choice over shooting raw because of the large amount of images he shoots. In his opinion, "Shooting raw would add hours to my postproduction time and I am happy with the quality results I am getting with JPEGs.

"My job is to document the people, the motion, and the light surrounding the dancers as well as to leave a record of their beautiful performance for the future. I am fortunate, too, that I am able to work with producer Aida Moreno as well as the incredible production crew at Public Television. This makes a big difference in the more difficult situations. The idea for me is to always capture the essence of the dance and create a powerful image without taking away from the grace and beauty of the movement."

To see more of Dunn's work, visit