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HOW TO: Nail dancefloor photos

This week's HOW TO is brought to us by SNAPster Anna Pumer and her energetic dance floor shots.  They make us feel like we're right in the thick of the action and here's what she has to say about them.  

The dancing is one of my favourite parts of a wedding day, as everyone lets their hair down and I can get some really kick-ass shots.

Camera settings (it depends on how dark the room is so play around with this):

♥ First of all I have my camera on manual focus so I don’t waste time trying to focus (I use back button focusing anyway so I don’t need to change any settings for this. However, if you do need to switch your camera to manual focus, for the love of god don’t forget to change it back before your next wedding!)
♥ Focus on a point in the distance that is roughly how far you will be from your subject in most photos (for me, usually just under a metre)
♥ My shutter is usually set to around 1/6th of a second (if you want more ambient light or if it’s very dark, go slower)
♥ My aperture is around f11
♥ My ISO is low, but play around with this if it’s too dark/bright
♥ Pop your flash on manual, dial it to around 1/32 (again, try different intensities if it’s too dark/bright)
♥ Stick the flash on your camera and point it forwards so you’re blasting your subject in the face and momentarily blinding them
♥ Zoom the flash as far as it will go (I use around 180-200mm)

Shooting tips

♥ Use a wide-angle lens – anything from 24-35mm will work. A 50mm lens won’t work. I use 20mm and get in reaaaaaal close
♥ Get in close. Closer!
♥ Study the dancefloor all the time and be ready to pounce when something happens
♥ Listen to the song – if you know it has certain moves or rocking choruses then be ready to shoot people making those moves

♥ Watch people’s habits. If a person dancing has a habit of pointing their hands out or flicking their hair, don’t worry if you missed it, chances are they’ll do it again so keep an eye on them
♥ Shoot loads – jump in for the shot and shoot several frames.
♥ Don’t look through the viewfinder – know what your focal length covers and just point and click – don’t waste a single second composing!
♥ Shoot from above, below and head height

♥ If anything happens like a smashed glass, don’t help clean up, take photos of the reaction!
♥ Take a peek at your shots every so often to make sure you haven’t knocked the focus ring
♥ Be in the thick of it instead of standing on the outside looking in. And dance like a mad person
♥ Warp perspective with your wide-angle lens – so if someone has their arm outstretched, shoot from their hand

♥ If you want movement from the lights (streaks etc) move the camera across the lights the instant you take the shot Shoot-flip! Shoot-flip! The slower the shutter the more light streaks you’ll have
♥ Look for weird things that look out of place, like a fancy dress prop
♥ I sometimes edit my dancefloor pics in black and white to make them look more raw and gritty
♥ When choosing which photos to include in your gallery, look carefully at the background – you’ll spot some hilarious things!

Check out Anna's work at