Backstage – Shooting Ballet Dancers with the ZEISS Loxia 2/50
I often get asked why I got a ZEISS Loxia. The key for me was the optics, communication with the body, and manual focus. I find myself enjoying the process more when automatic options are not available.
By Anastasia Petukhova
It was my intention to keep most of my work outdoors. I love working with natural light. When I started shooting ballet two years ago, it was a significant challenge not just because of the design of the rehearsal and performance space, but also because I had to work in very dark environments. It was also around the same time that I switched to Sony α7 lineup. Today I shoot with both α7R and α7R II and ZEISS Loxia 2/50 is one of my favorite choices for ballet work these days. I was determined that I exactly needed this lens for what I wanted to capture. F/2 gives me enough details and enough depth to work with. It helps me to focus and get just enough light I need.
This year most of the days the company was working out of an old bank building in Downtown Los Angeles. It’s one of those places you see in movies and imagine how it must have been back then. The bank, at least the first floor, was emptied and the space was adapted for ballet. I thought it was an interesting blend of heritage and grace of how ballet and architectural design are blended together.
During one of my last shoots I was lucky to have my ZEISS Loxia 2/50 with me. It arrived two days before that. I rented one out a few months back to test it out and it was time to purchase one. It was my 20th shoot with the ballet company and I think the 7th performance day. I already got what I wanted from the performances themselves and decided to spend my time shooting behind the scenes as the dancers get ready in their room next to the stage, get out to dance their parts, quickly change to different costumes, and balance their breath. It was a small room for so many dancers and me. I needed a compact setup. I shot with two bodies and my ZEISS Loxia was on the α7R II. That hour of the performance and the shots I got in the rush and adrenaline of what was going on, are some of the most memorable moments of this year.
I often get asked why I got a ZEISS Loxia. The key for me was the optics, communication with the body, and manual focus. I find myself enjoying the process more when automatic options are not available. I needed to force myself to shoot manually while enjoying the benefits of the modern ZEISS and Sony technology. Often I find myself trying out different combinations of settings and getting the results I would probably never expect with an autofocus lens. Being taken out of your comfort zone forces a new flow of creativity and aside from low light performance, this is the key factor for me in this lens.
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