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Photographing Odissi Performances


Photographing Odissi Performances






Just few days before I had brought new lens Nikkor 105 IF-ED macro lens. Luckily for me a mail came about Leena Mohanty going to perform Odissi as a part of a conference FIRE-2011 organised at IIT Bombay. I thought the dance program is good opportunity to test the lens, specially at aperture full open (f 2.8).



Leesa Mohanty, pose during 'Dasavatara'
Fundamental of any photography-assignment-preparation is to give a thought to the assignment. Immediately I came up with few things I should do and take care off. I expected lights to be low and mostly incandescent lights will be used. Thus white balance was set to 'incandescent' temperature and aperture wide open. As this lens posses Vibration Reduction (VR), I was not that worried about handshake. Increasing ISO to about 400 allowed shutter speed above 1/500s, enough to freeze the action.

Considering it being a prime lens with focal length 105 mm, my position was going to be fixed. I decided to take a position 45 deg to the stage. This angle provides some best shots, and this anticipation worked well. Also I needed some full size shots and some close-up. Achieving both shots at single time was difficult unless assistant helps with another camera. I had none. So I decided to cover half of the concert taking full size portraits and half the time close ups. As this was one and half hour program I could easily change my place. Also it gave me freedom to move back to my original place if close-up photo couldn't go well. I do not choose to move between the performance even to capture different angle. Movements in the front may disturb the performer and audience too. As I was about to change places after every performance, I discarded thought of having a tripod with me immediately. Another important thing is not to use flash, reason the same as above. So it was very light on my neck, just D7000 and macro lens. I realized later that a 50 mm f1.4 would have been handy. The most suitable lenses would be 24-70 mm f 2.8. Today I have the first one and another is still a dream.

To shoot great poses, one has to constantly keep camera focused on the subject. Listen and watch the performance carefully and start guessing timing for the pose. Normally the similar posses are repeated and hence photographer can grab that chance if he is watching carefully. This saves shutters and enhance the chances of sharp and perfect photos.

  

Accompanying artist with Leesa

Few days later I witnessed Odissi dance performances at IIT Bombay by Dr. Sudha SastryOdissi dance Program by Dr. Sudha Shastri and others. Occasion was International Conference on “Language, Mind and Reality: A Reflection on Philosophical Thoughts of Professor R. C. Pradhan” organized by the Department of Humanities and Social Sciences, Indian Institute of Technology Bombay,from March 5 to 7, 2012. Here are some glimpses of it.



"Pallavi", performed by Dr. Sudha Shastri. Raag: Hansdhwani, Taal: Chatusra Ektaal. Composition by Guru Kelucharan Mohaptra. Text Source: Wiki



Abhipsa performing Odissi



Dr. Sudha Shastri, concluding the dance program with "Moksha", Raag: Bhairavi, Taal:Ektaal


By Paresh Kale


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