<<< o >>>company fierce #1 62 comments + add yours

This is another shot taken at the North City Festival in Manchester last Saturday and is of one of the dancers with Company Fierce, one of the many groups that were performing on the day, and I'm pretty pleased with how this turned out. The original was a bit underexposed, but considering it was shot at the equivalent of 320mm as she was dancing I'm happy with it.

3.06pm on 23/7/05

Canon 20D

EF 70-200 f/4L USM

200mm (320mm equiv.)



aperture priority

-1/3 (-2/3 FEC)





C1 Pro


focal length
shutter speed
shooting mode
exposure bias
metering mode
image quality
RAW converter

3x2 + people [portraiture]
comment by Jason Wall at 08:41 PM (GMT) on 27 July, 2005

The image isn't showing up, perhaps a problem?

comment by djn1 at 08:43 PM (GMT) on 27 July, 2005

Jason: my fault, I've fixed it. Thanks.

comment by dp at 08:48 PM (GMT) on 27 July, 2005

I'm wondering if the shadow has been added in later or was it part of the exposure -- the backdrop to the dancer. I guess its questions like these that make your photographs even more interesting :-)

comment by >>P>>> at 08:49 PM (GMT) on 27 July, 2005

I waited all day for the new pic... an it didn't appear... now I can see it... amazing as usual!

comment by Jay at 08:50 PM (GMT) on 27 July, 2005

Dave, this is kind of a continuation from yesterday, as the site was updated before I could post this comment. I am a daily viewer, but generally do not leave a comment.

The reaction from miklos yesterday was typical, it would appear that he is very critical of everything you do, and thus, I respect you even more for leaving his comments up. I have one question for miklos: If Dave’s work is so horrible in it’s “composition”, then how has this site been featured on Time’s 50 best web sites, on the BBC, is number 1 on photoblogs.org…and so on? If I had to guess, you are perhaps a photography teacher, or more likely an aspiring photographer with a couple classes under his belt. You feel it necessary to cut down other people with your imposed “knowledge”. Photography is subjective, and is bound by the interpretation of the person behind the camera. Dave’s cannot compare to yours, just as yours cannot compare to his.

I am posting now because I hope that you are not influenced by what other people say, Dave. You started this because you enjoyed photography, and you did it your way, not based on some set of rules that can never apply to artistic expression. Do what you do, and I’m sure your legions of fans will continue to visit and be inspired.

That being said, great shot, how do you get the all-white backround, did it just happen to be a white background?

comment by amy at 08:50 PM (GMT) on 27 July, 2005

I think this is a great picture! I love the contrasting colours and the intensity on the girl's face. Bravo. Was she moving fast? You're great at capturing a moment

comment by djn1 at 09:02 PM (GMT) on 27 July, 2005

dp: the shadow is natural, and would guess it's the light coming through the top of the stage. She was standing right at the back of the stage against the white(ish) backdrop (which I lightened a bit in post-processing).

Jay: for quite some time I've tried to understand miklos's point of view, but I'm afraid that I don't, but it doesn't influence me in any way.

amy: yes, she was moving quite fast, as were all the dancers. In the end I took about 40 shots of them but only a couple were any good. I have a couple more that I'll put up at some point.

comment by twist at 09:08 PM (GMT) on 27 July, 2005

Dave, excellent pictures day after day. I don't know how you manage to capture, process, and post an image a day with a family as large as yours. Anyway, I love how you post process your images. Where did you learn these skills? Is there a good book or training material you reccommend? How did you make the background in yesterday's picture black?

Thanks again, and again amazing work!

comment by Stephanos at 09:11 PM (GMT) on 27 July, 2005

Swimming in milk...

comment by Jason Wall at 09:16 PM (GMT) on 27 July, 2005

I think what I liked immediately with this photo is the color of her skin. Its accentuated by the rest of otherwise monocromatic elements in the photo. Also, the almost blownout highlights of her dress give her a pure quality. I've never been good with producing those kind of highlights or making use of them in my prints. But I always find them enjoyable when I see them in others.

comment by duane at 09:19 PM (GMT) on 27 July, 2005

I'm with twist, I'm a consistent visitor of the site, and I'm always amazed at not only the quality but the quantity of the work. Also I would be interested in resources and training material. Perhaps you should author a book, Dave!

comment by S at 09:27 PM (GMT) on 27 July, 2005

I have to agree with Jay. You show great generosity and sense of self by publishing Miklos' views. Stop being so grown-up please ;-) just kidding miklos. I think I'd find you amusing if you weren't so boring sometimes but enough miklos bashing.
Dave, I'm relieved by the change of theme. I really couldn't bear the debate that ensued yesterday. I love this image, the finese you've captured and the bold contrast between black and white. You really do have a wonderful eye. I was surprised by the commet made yesterday that prompted the strong exhcnage of views. I don't understand how you or your short description can influence our reaction to an image. Surely it's our perception of people and the world around us that does this? We saw poverty, young mother, questionable education, social welfare and a difficult future for the child but we've no right to make these judgements as we don't know the people. What you do is capture a second in someone's life. The second cannot show the essence of the person, simply what they're feeling at that very time and even then it may not be real but a role that they are playing. The colour photo showed a completely different girl. She looked beautiful and relaxed - again another second captured in her life when she felt another emotion.
Please keep writing the descriptions. I look forward to reading them as much as seeing the images.

comment by lisa at 09:47 PM (GMT) on 27 July, 2005

love love love love this shot - especially knowing that she was dancing (I love dancing) while you took it. absolutely great.

comment by Adriana at 09:58 PM (GMT) on 27 July, 2005

graet capture of movement and I really like the contrast between her skin and the white background. :)

comment by Jem at 10:09 PM (GMT) on 27 July, 2005

Beautiful portrait Dave. I love the contast and composition. Fascinating and so well executed. Great work! :)

comment by m at 10:34 PM (GMT) on 27 July, 2005

Fabulous shot :-)
I've enjoyed the recent phots but this is my favorite of the recent ones. I'd love to continue where Jay and S left off but think they've said what was needed.
I will add that what we see is down to us, you as the photographer can hint or suggest but ultimately the interpretation is our own.

comment by Sarah at 10:35 PM (GMT) on 27 July, 2005

I have been checking your web site daily since I saw you on a 50 top blogs list, and this picture is by far my favorite. The picture is so enticing.

comment by ruthe at 11:13 PM (GMT) on 27 July, 2005

just amazing shot, excellently captured, I love it

comment by Lee at 11:14 PM (GMT) on 27 July, 2005

Very graceful! I love the tones of this shot :-)

comment by Amanda at 11:58 PM (GMT) on 27 July, 2005

absolutely gorgeous. i've been following for a little over a week, but have gone through hundreds of your photographs when I've had time. Was sent here through a friend, who is also a photographer. this shot is amazing. it just makes me smile :)

comment by Simon Lynch at 12:55 AM (GMT) on 28 July, 2005

I have just looked at three months of your posts and all I can say is... well I can't as every adjective like 'astonishing', 'stricking' or 'compelling' just seemed to come up short. So to make up for my linguistic shortcomings (thank god/insert deity here I am trying to comment on photos) I send a big thanks for making my eyeballs happy!

comment by cook at 01:54 AM (GMT) on 28 July, 2005

this is wonderful!

comment by andy at 02:01 AM (GMT) on 28 July, 2005

nice!how could you achieve this?

comment by pfong at 02:06 AM (GMT) on 28 July, 2005

Great composition. Amazing how you've nailed the exposure on this mass of whites.

comment by hiba at 02:39 AM (GMT) on 28 July, 2005

wonderful shot.
very fluid and pristine!

comment by djn1 at 03:46 AM (GMT) on 28 July, 2005

twist: two books I've found useful are Scott Kelby's The Photoshop CS Book and Martin Evening's Adobe Photoshop for Photographers. As for the background in yesterday's shot: it was very dark in the original and what detail that did remain was a bit distracting so I just darkened it down a little.

pfong: I didn't, the original is underexposed but was corrected in post-processing.

comment by Tristan Tom at 04:54 AM (GMT) on 28 July, 2005

i think it would be an even better image if she didn't have the left arm band and head band-they distract me from her essence.

comment by Tim at 05:42 AM (GMT) on 28 July, 2005

Amazing! Great tone and composition. I'm sure you were smiling when you finished this one off.

comment by seriocomic at 06:23 AM (GMT) on 28 July, 2005

Fantastic in so many respects.

comment by MP at 06:27 AM (GMT) on 28 July, 2005

Great pic. Seems like a shot under studio lights.

comment by Caroline at 07:03 AM (GMT) on 28 July, 2005

I love this photo; the colours are perfect, and the movement and emotion of the shot come through very well.

I would love it if you posted more pictures before and after processing, because I'm having some trouble using photoshop to its full potential without a class, and it's always helpful to see what other photographers do.

Also, do you do a lot of freelance work, or do you mostly just sell prints? I'm just curious because I would like to try to start selling my photos but I'm not sure how to go about it. Thanks for any help :)

comment by Christine at 07:29 AM (GMT) on 28 July, 2005

I love all the contrasts in this photograph, and the sense of movement - her hair and her hands ... amazing.

comment by Tom at 07:38 AM (GMT) on 28 July, 2005

Well I'd like to complain - I bet you didn't ask permission for this one

(Sorry just kidding)

comment by Nate at 07:45 AM (GMT) on 28 July, 2005

Hi Dave,

Like so many, I have been coming to your site for some time, and have encountered a photograph which I felt I had to comment on.

There is a photograph by Louis Faurer (a very small version of which you can see here: http://www.artnet.com/magazine/news/newthismonth/ntm1-8-17.asp) which, to me, typifies what photography can do to capture movement and dance. In it, a woman is bowing, her dress billowing out beautifully. The photograph is bursting with motion and elegance. To me, such images succeed because in a split second, different parts of a dancer are all moving at different rates, and something of this has been captured in a still photograph, albeit in a very different way than such variations in motion are perceived in real time. As another example, Douglas Kent Hall took a series of photographs of flamenco dancers (http://www.douglaskenthall.com/flamenco/flamenco.html - make sure you click the "more" to see other images) (I have no idea if this guy is famous, but I saw his work recently at a small museum). Faurer's and Hall's images manage to capture movement, and more importantly grace and human fluidity, in a fraction of a second, in something motionless. That is, to me, what makes them remarkable.

Here is the point: although I think your image is stunning at first, I think it ultimately doesn't manage to fully convey its subject. Without your telling us who she is (and I know that has been a subject of no little debate lately), we see only a woman in slight motion; her movement is indicated mostly by her hair; but otherwise, she appears almost calm and static. Herein lies the problem. Your image doesn't tell us anything about her dance. Was it jocund? Soothing? Erotic? Contrast this to the images of the flamenco dancers, in which the facial expressions, the movements suggested, the poses captured, all speak undeniably of flamenco--not just dance, but a very specific, empassioned dance. Put another way: we might look at your dancer and decide, for example, that she is in the middle of a martial arts sequence or an aerobics class, not dancing at all, and the photograph would hardly disagree. Thus, while technically the image is quite nice, I feel it doesn't go too much further toward conveying the larger chunk of time it represents.

Hopefully I am making some sense.

Thanks for giving us all a bit of beauty to enjoy every day.


comment by sAm at 08:29 AM (GMT) on 28 July, 2005

Love the final output from this shot, haven't had time to read all the comments but I am assuming you have pulled her out of the original environment?

Excellent image all the same...

comment by Roberto at 09:02 AM (GMT) on 28 July, 2005

Colors and contrast well balanced. Great pic!

comment by Emma at 09:51 AM (GMT) on 28 July, 2005

Hi David, Came to your site from BBC the other day and am now an addict, I think your photos are excellent and enjoy reading your comments very much.

I'm afraid I have to agree a bit with Nate on this one though - I had no idea that this woman was dancing, maybe it's because we only see her top half or none of the other dancers around her. Maybe I'm just being a bit thick as most other people seem to get it, but to me it looks like a studio posed shot. Can't fault the quality of the picture (although I'm no expert), just not all that keen on the content. Sorry... each to their own though I suppose!

comment by Rob at 10:21 AM (GMT) on 28 July, 2005

As with Jay I was wondering how you managed the white on white. Thanks for the reponse.

Another excellent image in the mix which is always high.

comment by mat [syco-still] at 10:26 AM (GMT) on 28 July, 2005

I disagree, the moment i saw this i could see it was a dancer, from what she is wearing its pretty clear its not flamenco which i think is a giveaway and adds to the motion effect in the links given by nate. flowing costumes would obviously portray motion, skin tight modern clothing pictured here is alot harder to give that impression. i think this is a gret shot. its a freeze frame of a fast moving subject with an excellent crispness.

well done

comment by Kim at 10:49 AM (GMT) on 28 July, 2005

You under exposed by 1/3 for this - books say over expose for this type of shot as in snow scenes. I also notice that you often compensate under rather than over. Please explain the rationale.

comment by Joi at 11:00 AM (GMT) on 28 July, 2005

Excelent capture - eyecatching!

comment by Richard at 11:29 AM (GMT) on 28 July, 2005

Black and White and Sharp.
I like it

comment by James Lomax at 12:41 PM (GMT) on 28 July, 2005

Don't think it really matters that it might not be clear she's dancing. There might be a spider at her feet, and she's about to scream "aah! spider!"

It doesn't matter - what you enjoy about it is the beauty of the person and the lyricism of her pose. Oh, and the bouncy hair, which is kinda nice.

The only problem is the slight lack of focus/resolution. It would have been better with perfect clarity. But it was still worth taking; I like simple and graphic images.

comment by sara at 01:05 PM (GMT) on 28 July, 2005

just love it! can't believe it hasn't been taken in a studio! really puts me in a good mood!

comment by Spleach at 02:39 PM (GMT) on 28 July, 2005

I agree with the majority that it's an awesome shot, and I reckon that the minority are miserable gits!

comment by rowan at 02:43 PM (GMT) on 28 July, 2005

what a great shot - the backdrop is so smooth it almost doesn't look real. the contrast of the dancer and the background gives it maximum impact. brilliant work!!

comment by Soul Clinic at 02:54 PM (GMT) on 28 July, 2005

keep churning out people shots, this almost looks like a fashion layout shot, something from the pages of Vogue. =)

comment by Dutch PhotoDay at 03:47 PM (GMT) on 28 July, 2005

This is a beautiful shot. The motion of the colored lady in the soft white environment is great!

comment by Jennifer at 04:31 PM (GMT) on 28 July, 2005

so cool!

comment by Jason Wall at 04:39 PM (GMT) on 28 July, 2005


I think maybe you're suffering from overthinking the image. The figure doesn't have to be dancing. Had she been performing a martial arts form, or doing an aerobic exercise routine, I think the image is mostly about fluidity and the simplicity of motion.

In my earlier comment, I mentioned that what I liked immediately was her skin and the simplicity that the monochromatic elements in the photo lended to the scene. Her expression could be more artistic, but what I see in the image is someone caught up in the moment, intent on the motion. I think the image works adequately in that regard without trying to make it be more than it is.


In terms of critique, I think the motion blur detracts a little from the feeling I described above to Nate, not much, but a little. I would have to see one without it to be sure. The circumstances of the shot precluded a total freeze, so that is unfortunate. The expression on her face is a little off also. I think you caught her in the middle of a transition from one expression to another. It doesn't detract much, but it is there.

Best Regards,

comment by Thomas Lynch at 05:20 PM (GMT) on 28 July, 2005

I'm fairly new to the whole photography thing and had a question about your pictures. I love the clarity of your portraits, the detail in the black and whites, etc. I was wondering if this particular look comes from the camera, lense, editing, or a combination of some or all of those elements. Thanks.

comment by rmo at 05:44 PM (GMT) on 28 July, 2005

She looks beautiful. lovely combination of tones and shape.

comment by m at 06:08 PM (GMT) on 28 July, 2005

I think this shot is excellent for the image alone as I have already said, yet I completely agree with Nate that the shot is static and does not convey any essence of dance. This is not a criticism, just a statement of fact.

Is Jason Wall so arrogant as to need to reply on behalf of Chromasia, Nate made no remark on your comment but rather the image.

comment by O b e l i x at 06:13 PM (GMT) on 28 July, 2005

This is a gorgeous shot. You continue to amaze me with your variety.

comment by Jason Wall at 08:35 PM (GMT) on 28 July, 2005


I don't know, maybe I am. It wasn't intentional. I was just debating the merits of the image as I saw them, and I disagreed with Nate's opinion.


If I came off sounding arrogant, or even argumentative (in a bad way), I apologize.

comment by djn1 at 08:53 PM (GMT) on 28 July, 2005

Thanks everyone:

Caroline: I sell a few prints here and there and do some freelance work every now and again. Photography isn't my main source of income though so I don't do a great deal. And yes, I'll post some more 'before and after' stuff when I have the time.

Nate: I'm not too bothered that this shot doesn't portray the fact that she was dancing as that wasn't my intention. It's a photograph of her rather than a shot of what she was doing. But yes, your point does make sense.

sAm: no, this is as straight shot, albeit one with a background that was lightened somewhat in post-processing.

Kim: I tend to underexpose to avoid blowing out the highlights; i.e. I'd much rather lift a slightly underexposed shot when I process it rather than have one that's blown out. That said, I would have got away with this one if I hadn't underexposed the original shot.

m/Jason: smile, big breaths ;-)

comment by m at 09:08 PM (GMT) on 28 July, 2005

Dave, Fair comment. l lilterally laughed out loud.
Nice pic btw

comment by pierre-nelson at 08:06 PM (GMT) on 29 July, 2005

I really
love this one!

comment by TiBlond at 11:00 PM (GMT) on 29 July, 2005

Yeahh a very nice shot ! I'm loving it

comment by Kaarel at 02:19 PM (GMT) on 1 August, 2005

thats amazing shot! good work

comment by Hikari at 04:21 PM (GMT) on 1 October, 2005


comment by Elisa Mclean at 11:11 PM (GMT) on 8 February, 2007

Hi, that is me in the picture, was just scanning the net for interesting pics of myself.
Have to giv credit to the photographer, captured the image really well, as i wasnt looking my best that day.

Now very interested in his work!