La Petite Milonga – the feeling of dancing


Dancing isn’t the most easy thing to capture on camera. Especially in low light conditions and with manual focus. Friday evening people meets for a classic Argentinian tango in a town near by. The dance is called La Petite Milonga. Champagne and drinks are served, and then people enters the floor letting the music play and their mind flow into a dance session. And being there called for moments to be recorded on camera.

What I generally is driven by when I photograph is feelings. The most important thing is to let the technical part stay at the settings once set at the camera, and then concentrate on being part of the scenery. Discrete, but not afraid of being there, capturing the dance, the mood and the feeling. The Leica M8 with manual focus was with me. It is almost impossible to make focus follow, so instead I made som fixed focus distances and either waited for the couples to move into focus or i stepped a little ahead or back hoping to hit something sharp in between. And not much needs to be sharp. Sometimes nothing needs to be sharp. If it expresses what is there, and transmit the feeling to the viewer, that is sometimes all that counts.


I used 640 ISO to push some light in, and the fast Nokton 35mm fully open at f 1.2 (which means extremely shallow depth of field). The low required shutter times around 1/60 produced unsharp areas by movement and focus off the spot as the result. But then other pictures showed up. When 95 percent areas of the pictures are out of focus, and just a part of a face in the corner is sharp, a new expression and another experience is present. Which would not happen if limitations wasnt there. Working against the stream sometimes make new results appear. Sometimes to my surprise. Some pictures didn’t look succesful, until I came home and discovered the framing and the small areas where focus highlighted an emotion and expression. This I did not see when I pressed the button. But it was there when I looked through the photos afterwards sorting out what hit something useful, and what sometimes showed to be surprisingly expressive photos.

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