The Little Prince & Vancouver’s Arts Umbrella Dance Company Show Off

Cordelia Pentland — Photographs — Alex Waterhouse-Hayward

“And now here is my secret, a very simple secret: It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye.”

The Little Prince — Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

We humans cannot perceive movement beyond 1/15 of a second. There was one man who finally ended that human flaw.

Harold Eugene “Doc” Edgerton also known as Papa Flash (April 6, 1903 — January 4, 1990) was a professor of electrical engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He is largely credited with transforming the stroboscope from an obscure laboratory instrument into a common device. He also was deeply involved with the development of sonar and deep-sea photography, and his equipment was used by Jacques Cousteau in searches for shipwrecks and even the Loch Ness Monster.

For those of us who are photographers we all have seen those photographs taken by Harold Edgerton of bullets, frozen in time by super flash strobes, piercing playing cards.

In dance the illusion, the very perception of motion, cannot be captured by fast flash and a fast shutter speed in which motion and the dancer are frozen in sharpness in mid-air. With a film camera I would not have been able to shoot as I have for the last five years the performances of the Arts Umbrella Dance Company. I would have wasted lots of film and fast film would have rendered very little detail. With my digital camera I have been experimenting with ISO 3200 b+w and IS0 800. I have finally settled on ISO 3200 in colour. If you notice any pictures here that are red or blue this is done by desaturating the colour and then either adding red or blue.

Most of my exposures range from 1/15 of a second to ¼. Sometimes I may switch to 1/60. We photographers know that at the end of motion, motion is zero so a 1/60 will usually stop motion.

Because I am shooting for fun I am aware that many of my photographs are not exactly sharp. Some may notice odd crops. This is lots of fun. But I must depend on good luck.

The pictures below are those that I took on the first half of the Friday, June 8 rehearsal and most (I have not finished “fixing” the rest) from the Friday evening performance. The remaining photographs and those of the Sunday performance I will be adding them to this blog in the next few days. My eyes are square right now and I must quit.

But I can ascertain with with exactitude that of the 1000 photographs that I took in those two days the best is the one gracing the beginning of this blog. It is the luminous Cordelia Pentland. There is something about the detail in the curtain and that light peeking on the right that makes me smile when I look at it. Cordelia Pentland will now be in my short list of Arts Umbrella female dancers that have that special quality I call presence. There were Nina Davies and Nicole Ward, Béatrice Larrivée and Katarina Nesic.

Link to: The Little Prince & The Arts Umbrella Dance Company Show Off