Below are three photos representing my three opportunities to photograph the Nordhoff High School “Crazy for Dance” concerts. After reviewing images from the Thursday performance (image 1), I adjusted picture controls and exposure control (for higher shutter speeds and lower contrast), but mostly I tried to adjust my physical reaction time for the Saturday performance (image 2). By Sunday (image 3), my hands were shaky, so in addition to other tweaks, I decided to shoot with a monopod.
As I review the three images now, I have to concede that the technical differences are minimal, and the first one is possibly the best photograph of the bunch, if not the sharpest or best exposed. So what was the point of my study, review, and continuous adjustments? It wasn’t necessarily image quality, because I got some very nice images right from the start.
For my goal of documenting the event, the significant difference was my keeper rate. On Thursday, I shot 813 frames and produced 33 final images for a 4% success rate. On Saturday, I shot 936 frames and produced 90 finals for a 9.6% keeper rate. Although Sunday’s totals were fewer – 494 frames and 46 keepers, the success rate of 9.3% is pretty much the same as Saturday’s. I believe the leap from Thursday to Saturday has little to do with camera adjustments – I’ve been shooting dance long enough to know how to set the camera. The difference is what I wrote about in part one: getting my head and body in sync for the task at hand. By Saturday, I knew what to look for. By Sunday, I knew what I already had and only had to shoot for what I still needed.
However much I have improved over the last few years, I always get better pictures when I get a second chance to shoot. Practice may or may not make perfect, but it sure makes improvements.