636 Photos

The Pole Gym City Battle - Review

written by William Brown on 2018-09-05

Once again, I was working with another great photographer for the Pole Gym's Battle - A competition between the multiple Pole Gym studios' students. It was a fantastic event, and the students put on an amazing show.

After any event like this it's valuable to review what went well and what needs improvement. Photography is like any creative work, a process of continual refinement and improvement.

The good


After last event's "bad" autofocus issues, this time I worked out the combination to nail focus on almost every single photo. This time, I had few out of focus shots, generally because I was surprised by movement.

I have used the X-H1's custom focus settings to track subjects in front, with certain locking behaviours. I also used boost and back-focus to trigger continual focus tracking ahead of time to taking a shot. It's a bit easier than holding the shutter half way all the time, and means focus is already acquiring the moment the shutter re-opens.

The result: I found 85% of my images were in focus, as I wanted. This let me take lots of "good" photos.

Faster settings

By setting the shutter a bit faster, I lost a bit of light, but the sharper movement was worth it. I think I would step faster again (1/320 or more), but really it's so venue dependent.

Pre-empting movement

I have found I'm getting better at pre-empting movement of dancers, which is helping me to react and get better photos. It's let me capture some stunning moments this event, but I think this can always still be improved (as everything can).

To improve

Go to practice runs

I really need to be at practice events with lighting to get everything set properly. There are just too many changes occuring that are hard to fix in post. I'm especially finding it hard to detect light levels in the EVF during the event, or on my screen, so perhaps a fixed screen brightness or something else to assist here.

I should go to the practices and start taking notes on run sheets, and talking to the dancers to find out what they want photographed or highlighted.

Location and Angles

I have told myself to shoot low, and wide at pole - last event I forgot to shoot wide. This time I didn't shoot low. This mean that last time, at least I could get good photos still, even if trimming some appendanges. This time, I had plenty of full body, sharp photos that were boring as hell.

A reminder that often a great photo is one that highlights an unnatural viewpoint, something people aren't used to seeing. This is why photographers ofter get low or high relative to a subject.

Dynamic light

I need to work on a way to make dynamic light, to darken and lighten as needed during the show to create more dramatic effects. Likely I'll try to use the aperture ring to achieve this (Thank you Fuji for the excellent aperture rings on your lenses!).

The book

I have a book of notes before events to make sure I have checked everything that needs checking. It's already getting a bit hard to manage everything and update effectively, so I may write a "pre-flight" checklist app or website that is easier to update and check off. If I'm still forgetting simple things, what I'm doing isn't working. So it's time to learn from the professionals in aviation.


This was another fantasic event, and because of the lessons of last time I took many "good" photos, but I lacked the "stunning" photos that I took last time. With more review, I hope to be able to take both consistently.