Photo Exploration: Kathleen, Dancing at Night

When the time came to leave Asheville, I real­ized that there were a few ses­sions that were “must-do” before the move. One of these was to work one-on-one with Kath­leen Hahn, a dancer/­chore­o­g­ra­pher/in­no­va­tor/all-around-great person.

We were orig­i­nal­ly going to do her Fever dance from four per­spec­tives, shot in the freez­er sec­tion of a local Ingle’s. Mid-way through our first per­spec­tive, secu­ri­ty let us know that pho­tog­ra­phy was not allowed. Which was a relief in a way, as it did make clear that danc­ing is absolute­ly allowed in the gro­cery. So — if you are ever look­ing for a place to per­form a dance piece, I’d say con­sid­er Ingle’s. Even light­ing and always a crowd.

Since our orig­i­nal plan did­n’t work, we decid­ed to move to a more open envi­ron­ment. The ten­nis courts in Mont­ford were ide­al — emp­ty of peo­ple, col­or­ful and avail­able. Kath­leen start­ed her rou­tine and I start­ed mak­ing pho­tographs. I loved the results — some of the stills are incred­i­ble, as you can see here and here. But at some point in the pro­cess­ing, I start­ed won­der­ing if they images could be lay­ered to any pos­i­tive out­come. With the gro­cery pieces, three lay­ers per image seemed suit­able, but the hor­i­zon­tal stage and lines of the ten­nis courts opened the image up for more. I think this final image is tak­en from thir­ty indi­vid­ual frames.

Kathleen, Fever.

Kath­leen, Fever. August 2013

Each of the frames had to be adjust­ed to fit the image as I was hand­hold­ing the cam­era and not par­tic­u­lar­ly intend­ing this result. But the paint and net gave reli­able guides to com­bine the frames into one. I used Pho­to­shop to place the lay­ers, which are all com­bined with the Light­en mode. I then did a gen­er­al Adjust­ment Lay­er for con­trast and white bal­ance over all the frame layers.

I’m very excit­ed about this piece, as it result­ed from what could have been a dis­ap­point­ing end of the orig­i­nal ses­sion. How­ev­er, if we’d stayed in the gro­cery we would have nev­er found the ten­nis courts as a venue. I am also pleased with the dig­i­tal work — I had been shoot­ing film for so long before this ses­sion I had for­got­ten some of the ben­e­fits of work­ing with vari­able ISO’s, quick frames per sec­ond and (vir­tu­al­ly) unlim­it­ed image stor­age. A good use case for the flex­i­bil­i­ty of digital.

Thanks to Kath­leen for being part of this session!