Kit king

A creative dance shoot at the NSCD with Kit King


I have worked with Kit on a number of occasions and it always a pleasure to work with a very talent dancer. The fact that he is also Chinese and possesses our love of food helps. When we are not talking about dance and photography, we ask each other whether we have tried various dishes or Chinese sweets.

There are always new ideas to try out especially when it comes to lighting techniques. In this case I wanted to use as much natural light as possible. At the school, studio 3 has large blinds over the only tall two windows. This makes it possible, to an extent, to control the lighting in the room. What I wanted was a slash or a narrow corridor of light. The dancer would be placed in. The background should fade to black and there should a of contrast in the shot depending on how close the dancer was to the window.

The shoot

The conditions were very dull on the day so the light coming through the windows would be quite weak. This meant the contrast between the light and dark areas of the room would not be so variable. I can increase the ISO settings on the camera to compensate for the less intense light, but it would mean there would be a little detail in the darker areas that I would have to deal with in post processing. This would not be such an issue working at an lower ISO like 200.

There were three main photographic objectives to the shoot:

This was a concept shoot so I am trying out idea and techniques to see how well they work or do not.

To compensate for the weak light, a couple of flashguns were placed in the window to augment light coming from it. They were mounted on the same light stand one about shoulder and the other at waist height. Doing so meant I could reduce the power of each unit and work at f/9 instead of f/4.

kit king b-boy break dancer

1. Here the Kit performed some basic floor moves. It looks like he is jumping out of the darkness. The shadows and highlights were enhanced in post processing to give the photograph added depth. ISO 200, f/9 and 1/400s.

kit king b-boy break dancer

2. A different pose, but the same idea. This shot is all about shapes. I love the reflection in the floor. I assure you, Kit has not fallen asleep.

We changed to shooting into the window light. Here I am using only window light to achieve the overall look. The light is very diffused unlike the previous ones where the lines are very distinct. There is no direct light falling upon the dancer hence the hazy look. This would work really well with a female dancer making them look very ethereal and soft.

kit king b-boy break dancer

3. I love the shapes and the diagonal that runs from top right to bottom left across the frame. The edge of the blinds and the odd bit of detail in the window has been edited out. The tough bit ensuring Kit was framed between the blinds. ISO 1000, f/2.8 and 1/400's.

kit king b-boy break dancer

4. Kit decides on the moves that he is going to pull and it is up to me to photograph them. His arms and legs create an angular figure of eight. You can see bottom of the window. This gives the photograph a bit of perspective with regards to how high he is jumping. This is missing from the previous one.

Another change. This time I am using a Lupolux 800 HDMI portable spotlight. Another dancer had sent me a few photographs that she liked. They were good and one in particular caught my eye. The next shot is my take on it. The dust effect was created by blowing a bit of talcum powder into the air. This trick was learnt from a photographer called Brett Florens at a convention earlier this year.

kit king creative dance photography

5. The lamp is to the left, back and a bit higher up. I wanted the light to skim Kit's face rather than light the whole of it. I asked him to rotate his wrist so we could make out each finger. I think the shot is very simple, but effective. The talcum powder works and stops the area between his forearm and face being pitch black. ISO 800, f/4 and 1/400 s.

The following shots came about because Kit clapped his hands thus making a cloud of powder in the air. I liked the way the light interacted with it and so these shots were created.

creative dance clarence docks

6. In this shot we tried to create make it look like Kit was performing magic and that he made something disappear in a puff of smoke.

creative dance clarence docks

7. A clap sends out a plume of powder.

creative dance clarence docks

8. The same as the above except the powder has been colourised to make it look like a fire ball extending from Kit's hands.

creative dance clarence docks

9. The last shot. Kit moved his hands in opposite directions brushing the powder different directions. The effect is quite subtle but effective.

This was the first time I had used talcum powder in a shoot. I had used flour with Erica in a previous shoot. There are a number of difference when you using them. They do produce a similar effect except the powder is much finer and it is harder to throw handfuls of it a few feet before it starts to break-up dissipate. Flour being much denser, will. Erica was throwing flour across the room when we used it.

Post processing

Lightroom and Photoshop were used during the post processing. Most of it involved cropping, dodging and burning (lightening and darkening), adjusting exposure and adding a high pass filter to increase the detail in the photographs. With the window shots, I had to removed some of the detail from within and around the window. In the powder shots, I converted the photographs to black and white using Photoshop and lighten the powder so detail can be seen especially around the edges of the cloud.

Technical details

A full-frame camera with an 24-70mm f/2.8 lens was used throughout. A two flashgun were used for the first set of photographs. The units were set to manual mode about 1/4 power. The camera was in manual mode. A Lupolux 800 HDMI spotlight was used for the powder shots.

Booking a photo shoot

If you would like to book a shoot contact me.

Your thoughts


Please leave any thoughts, comments, questions or just say, "Hi!" (not literally) below. I really do appreciate feedback. E.g. What is your favourite photograph and why?

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