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  • Andrew JK Tan

Exploring Conceptual Photography with the Nikon D850

In this blog , I want to share how I challenged myself as a photographer photographing a subject matter (a ballerina in action) for the first time in a location that I have never been to. I will provide my insights on each image shared.

First a few details on the following:

Hardware used

1. Nikon D850

2. Nikkor 24-120mm f4.0


Abandoned floor of an unfinished building with large panel glass windows

Two different areas on the same level used.


Only ambient light used ..... and not even a reflector

Using a reflector or two is not practical when photographing a subject that moves indoor with window lighting.

Subject Matter

Ballerina in action - Sasha Fadilla

Photography Techniques employed

- AF-C (Continuous Tracking)

- Group AF Area mode

- Bracketing to get exposure desired - then switch off bracketing mode

- High burst rate shooting


Insight - used the soft side lighting from an opening in the wall to it's advantage.Capturing Sasha's leap at the peak moment created the impact I wanted.Adding that additional inverted staircase was digitally added in to create a different background ... a different image.

Insight - Again I used the soft side lighting from an opening in the wall to it's advantage.

Capturing a different pose (the pose is important) created the difference here if compared to the previous action oriented shot of Sasha.

Presentation wise I warmed up the light to communicate a different perception of time of day , lightened up Sasha's complexion to show more of Sasha as in this image her pose set the mood and overall feel to differentiate from the previous image. (which was more an action oriented shot)

Insight - The exact same location but this time from a much wider perspective. This time when Sasha made this jump when I asked her to change her pose , I noticed the < shape her body created and it immedialy hit me that I had to create the additional staircase to mimic her body pose. I also removed a column right in the middle of the frame.

Insight - Rotated the image 90 degrees and converted the image into a monochromatic one to create a totally different image. Feels like Sasha is "flying"

Insight - A much tighter shot & composition. Presentation wise , I toned the image and softened it to create the mood in line with her pose and facial expression.

Insight - Her dance pose influenced me to create a monochromatic version and I also wanted the background to dominate the image a little more hence the use of a wider angle lens , I liked that slight curved feel .... in addition , I felt that the overall image was very calming so I added a cool tone (slightly dark bluish) to add to that overall feeling.

Insight - The exact same location but this time from a tigher perspective to focus on Sasha's dance pose again. Her pose to me this time is more "Cheerful" than the previous monochromatic one so a "warmer" presentation and a lower contrast presentation fitted the image better. In addition I "Tilted" the image in post production to add a more dynamic feel.

Insight - Using just the individual large glass panel and wall columns to frame Sasha. Intentionally overexposed to eliminate the unwanted background making it plain white to highlight Sasha's pose.

Insight - The same large panel and concept of overexposure to "blow" the background and used the white blown background to highlight the details of Sasha's tutu. I did not like the entire window frame and wall so I cropped tight to remove the walls and post processed the frames away as they distracted from what I wanted to show.

Insight - For this shot I used the lighting contrast & strong patterns to create and interesting background and foreground. Asked Sasha to make a small jump and used her shadow to create and interesting subject. Made sure to capture the moment where her feet were off the ground and also made sure her shadow did not overlap with the window frame shadow

Insight - Similar reasoning to the image above but I presented in a slightly different manner to give a different feel, a lower contrast higher key presentation.

Insight - I loved the shadow so much that I wanted to feature it a little more over Sasha so my decision to rotate this image 90 degrees to create an abstract.

How did the D850 help ?

- the FX (Full Frame) dynamic range performance was great retrieving details from silhouettes

- 9 FPS help capture the peak action

- the ultra high MP allowed me to crop tighter then normal without loosing IQ

Hope you enjoyed reading this blog and I hope the images do inspire you to photograph a different genre and explore different ways in creating your own unique images with your own signature.

The bottomline is to be "brave" & explore , find different Point Of Views (POV) & take advantage of the light avaiable to produce as many different images even from a single location.



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