Joy of the Waters

My wife and I recently visited the Philbrook Museum in Tulsa, and I brought my D7100 + 50mm lens to see if I could get any decent shots. This one here illustrates both the utility as well as the limitations of the setup, and while there is plenty I wish I could change about the image I am also quite pleased with it overall. To wit: a 50mm lens on a crop sensor camera is quite impractical when your primary location is a mostly indoor art museum. The focal length is better suited for medium-to-tight portraits, and other types of pictures you might see here on this blog–very few of which are indoors. Even so, I like to make the best out of any situation and I knew there would be some limitations with that setup in a museum but I did it anyway for a challenge.

After an hour of walking through the museum we came across this bronze sculpture by Harriet Whitney Frismuth titled “Joy of the Waters,” and noticed something quite extraordinary: this little girl, caught up in the beauty and dynamic energy of the bronze woman behind her, started imitating the work of art by dancing around on the floor. Through a series of twirls and pirouettes she brought the work of art to life, and while all manner of adults might simply look at it and marvel at its beauty this little girl expressed it in a whole new manner. She didn’t care if anyone was watching, and just spent a minute dancing her cares away, and if the woman in bronze had been able to jump to life at that very moment I am sure she would have joined right in.

As for shooting the actual photo, I had very little time to compose the shot and also didn’t want to interrupt the girl. Thankfully my equipment, though a bit limiting, did allow me to get what you see here. I had three goals here:

1. capture the girl dancing…
2. with the figure in the background…
3. with as little blur as possible.

That meant a fast shutter and, given the subdued lighting conditions, a wide aperture and high ISO in order to make the best use of the light available to me. I had to back way up and through a doorway (hence the stair railing on the left side) in order to get everything in the shot, and the high ISO of 3200 gave me a bit more grain than I would have preferred, but the blur-free movement of the girl was exactly what I was hoping to get. A super wide lens like my buddy Ryan’s Tokina 11-16mm f/2.8 would have been awesome, but alas, I don’t have one of those and it’s another item on my ever-growing shopping list of camera stuff to buy…

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