The Ballerina and the Creek


When you think of ballet a few things probably don’t come to mind…mud, water, or rocks to name several.  But, as I found out, taking one very graceful ballerina into such a location can quickly become a stark, yet beautiful photo op. (continued below)


Local ballerina, Mary-Elaine, and her mom opted to do a late afternoon photo shoot with me recently along the banks of the Conodoguinet Creek outside of Camp Hill. The Native American name for Conodoguinet means “A long way with many bends” …a perfect place for a ballerina shoot!

So off we went. As we walked a short distance to the location we got plenty of stares from passing motorists. Not sure if it was all my gear or the tutu (No, I was not wearing the tutu – although that would have made for an even more interesting shoot)

I started photographing Mary-Elaine a short distance from the creek. I relied on her to pick and choose the ballet poses since my knowledge of all things dance is fairly limited. There are times on shoots that the photographer must let their guard down a bit and rely on their subject to assure things will be visually correct.  As the shoot went on I kept eyeing up a small peninsula in the creek.  I moved her from location to location…each time just a little closer to the water. Finally I had to do it, I just asked both mom and ballerina if we could go out on the water. They were both very game. I went down the embankment first to scout it out with my Nikon over my shoulder and light stand and strobe with a battery pack in hand. I kept my lighting very soft and simple. I set up the softbox and got Mary-Elaine in place – again allowing her to pick the ballet poses. Mom decided that it would be best for her to be barefoot to avoid muddy ballet shoes. Given the location I actually think it looks very natural.  My shoes on the other hand got a bit wet. I had to step out onto rocks in the water to be able to compose my shots. As I stumbled a few times I reminded myself that only 2 hours earlier I got the camera back from the repair shop… so don’t drop it in the water. We spent about 10 minutes shooting along the water when Mary-Elaine admitted she was cold.  I was happy with what I got and the ballet shoot was a wrap. Aesthetically, the evening back light falling on the water and fall foliage balanced out with my softbox and the over all juxtaposing of all the elements worked well.  Sometimes getting away from the safe and traditional photography makes all the difference.

Ballet23619Notes from the ballet shoot.

Gear used: (2) Nikon D800s (I always shoot with a 70-200 2.8 on one body and a wide or prime lens on the other to avoid the need to change lenses during the shoot) Camera settings were  ISO 250 F7.1@ 1/200 (varied slightly  for ambient light).

Alien Bee B800 strobe on a 13’ heavy duty light stand

32”X40” collapsible softbox

Vagabond Mini lithium inverter to power the strobe

(Jason Minick, is owner/photographer at Minick Photography)


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