Dancers At The Beach

18th May 2011
Shooting outdoors you're never really sure what the weather has in store and, more importantly, what the light is going to be like. You can check the forecast and get a general idea of the conditions you'll be working with but we all know how changeable the British weather is. Especially on the North east Coast.
As it turned out on one of my latest shoots the conditions could not have been much better, there was some nicely diffused sunlight, interesting clouds out to sea and, over to the west, some heavy cloud developed toward the end of the evening. That heavy cloud added drama to my final images. As I was working with four of the older students from The Michaela Percival School Of Dancing a bit of drama gave my images so much more impact than I could have achieved working in a studio.
On arrival at Blyth beach though there seemed to be quite a bit of sea spray and haze hanging around and at first I thought I would be struggling with the light. Fortunately I carry a portable lighting setup by way of three flashguns, two brollies, a softbox and wireless triggering system. As I wanted to make the most of the surroundings though I opted for a single flash inside a softbox, combined with an orange gel to warm the light. I then compensated with a cooler white balance, this keeps the skin tones realistically warm and, at the same time, intensifies the blue tomes in the sky.
The first shots we took made use of some low wooden platforms, treating them as mini stages. I benefited from some great creative input from my willing participants as they used their dancing skills to strike some great poses.

With those first shots in the bag it was then on to the concrete outfall. I'd planned the shoot to coincide with the tide being in and, with a light wind coming from the east, we were treat to some great wave action. My main aim was to capture some jump shots but we also worked out a few other ideas, some from me and some from Corina, Megan, Reid and Sophie.
A suggestion was then made to do some cartwheels on the sand but all this barefoot barmyness was leading to cold toes so we warmed up with thick socks and reviewed the work we'd done.

At this point the sun was beginning to cast it's orange glow through gaps in the heavy cloud so we headed onto the grass for some more shots before another suggestion was made to use the beach huts as a setting. We then wrapped the evening up with a final shot using that dark cloud as a backdrop to a scary pose from Reid and Megan.

I'm not sure if my four accomplices quite knew what I had in store for them, more so how much input they'd have but we all had a great time and they have some great images as a result of their hard work and tolerance to the cold North Sea.

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