Stephen Levitas  

Sufi dancer by Stephen Levitas

January 2021 - Sufi dancer

January 2021 - Stephen Levitas


About the Image(s)

Sufi Dancer

f/4.5, 1/8 sec., ISO 3200, 30mm

This is from a few years back when there was a Sufi symposium at the Smithsonian Institution here in DC. This is a solo Sufi Dancer, on stage. I liked the lighting and her pose. I converted to monochrome using a setting in my PS Elements called “Newspaper,“ which had strong contrast. Then I sharpened it a bit. What do you think I could do to improve it, if anything?

12 comments posted

Ata Kemal Sahin   Ata Kemal Sahin
(Group 74)
Hi Stephen, I wish you and your family a happy and healthy new year. Sûfî is a Muslim person who follows the rules of Tasawwuf / Islamic mysticism. As you also mentioned, there are tempting light passings; but slow shutter without tripod or IS / VR caused blurring effect and high ISO caused grainy texture. It's a chain. Surely, grain isn't necessarily bad all the time; but light is a water of photography and I normally don't exceed 1600. Blurred hands show motion and ok. I don't know which type of lens you used; but f2,8 or below + faster shutter would give a sharper photo if it was a hand-held shot. If I understood correctly, this is a dance shot in the dark so you firstly need a fast shutter for body sharpness, wide aperture to allow more light into the camera and -depending shutter speed- ISO is a key point to be adjusted. You can reduce grains in PS. Thanks for sharing.   Posted: 01/01/2021 03:40:51
Stephen Levitas   Stephen Levitas
Hello and Happy New Year, Ata.
Yes, the conditions of this shot were poor. I had no tripod, and my Canon G10 was the last "G" before the light sensitivity was increased in newer models.   Posted: 01/01/2021 16:32:15

Beverly Caine   Beverly Caine
(Groups 48 & 80)
Nice image Stephen. Considering what you had to deal with you got some pretty good results. If you have Topaz Sharpen AI try running it through that... it gives some pretty amazing results.
Happy New Year.   Posted: 01/02/2021 12:07:22

Russ Butler   Russ Butler
Stephen, I like your image & appreciate how difficult these situations can be with low light, needing a fast shutter, lens, can't use a flash/lights & then capture what you want. My only suggestion is adding a border. What do you think?   Posted: 01/06/2021 21:48:56
Comment Image
Stephen Levitas   Stephen Levitas
Why of course a border is a good idea. I never think of that when I submit for this group. Yes, it would improve the image. Thanks.   Posted: 01/06/2021 22:04:53

Diana Magor   Diana Magor
I think you've done the best you could within the limitations. I end up with pictures like this and don't know whether they are worth working on or whether I should accept they are beyond my abilities to deal with them. I usually give up! So well done. I wondered if you could go further and reduce it to even simpler lines but having tried various ideas I found done of them worked well!   Posted: 01/08/2021 05:57:45

Tom McCreary   Tom McCreary
It is really hard to tell what this is an image of. Adding a border as Russ suggests helps with an image with a black background on the website black background. It would have been a stronger image if her face had been down more.   Posted: 01/10/2021 13:57:15
Stephen Levitas   Stephen Levitas
True enough. I have been studying Barbara Morgan's dance photographs. She was very careful to pose her dance photos in special sessions with controlled lighting, seeing that performance photos were not satisfactory. I have never had a successful shot of a dance or dramatic performance, but of course my camera is poor in low light, lacking both sensitivity and a large lens.   Posted: 01/10/2021 14:50:14

Larry Treadwell   Larry Treadwell
(Groups 36 & 67)
I well appreciate the difficulties in trying to capture images such as this. There is not much you can do on location in these situations beyond what you have already done. Long ago I ran into this situation and my remedy was to purchase fast glass. My first acquisition was a 50mm f1.4 lens. At the time I spent about $60 to get it but now it sells for just over $100. I'm certain other camera manufacturers have something similiar. It is small, and lightweight (I can carry it in a pocket) and I find it useful in museums night clubs and a variety of other low light situations. I have since acquired a Nikon 105mm f2.8 which provides a bit more reach and is just slightly slower at f2.8. Having one of these (or both) is a lifesaver in the field.   Posted: 01/11/2021 12:44:29
Stephen Levitas   Stephen Levitas
Hi Larry, thanks for the advice. You always have good solutions. I have been trying to keep my equipment baggage to a radical minimum (one camera that can fit in my pocket). I used to have a full kit and also did my own B/W development and printing. I still have my Minolta SRT-101 in a closet and my Bogen enlarger in the attic. I just can't get some shots with my limited equipment, due to the compromise I made to be compact and light. When my Canon G10 finally dies (it's doing great), I might move up to a G16, which has better low light sensitivity.   Posted: 01/11/2021 19:44:57

Jennifer Doerrie   Jennifer Doerrie
I agree with the other comments that photographing action like dancing is very challenging, particularly in low light. Does your camera allow for adjusting ISO and/or shutter speed at all? I'm wondering whether it would work in situations such as this one to do a longer exposure that would result in motion blur throughout the dancer rather than just in the hands? Another idea might be to try making the image more abstract through editing with changes in the light. I don't think this example is quite what I'm envisioning, but I'll attach it anyway.   Posted: 01/12/2021 23:50:10
Comment Image
Stephen Levitas   Stephen Levitas
I have complete control of ISO and shutter speed, but only four f-stops. And I can shoot manual. The Canon G is really a good camera, and pocket size. So I accepted the limitations. But it has poor low-light sensitivity, and only a newer camera will cure that--sooner or later it will break and I will replace it.
I like your ideas of choosing motion blur for this kind of shot, or abstracting the image. Thanks.   Posted: 01/13/2021 21:56:31


Please log in to post a comment