Quick Shot: The Rehearsal by Patrick Conaty

Quick Shot: The Rehearsal

by Patrick Conaty

Hey everyone, this week I was invited to experience and photograph contemporary ballet at Queen Elizabeth Theatre in Vancouver for the first time. I was pretty blown away by the talent of these performers as well as the phenomenal lighting and music. This was shot during the dress rehearsal before the opening night. I used a Leica M 240 with my favourite 50mm lens, the Zeiss 50 Planar. It was shot at a half second shutter with the camera balance on my knee.


You can see more of my recent work here if you’re interested!




  1. OMG! I checked out your instagram page and saw my favourite Chicago airport terminal photo.
    You are always surprising me with your vision of the world we live in with just one single photo in your submission.
    I love the gracefully fluid effect of the dancers limbs. It’s almost like you made it with long sweeping brushstrokes.
    I LOVE your Instagram work.

    PS. I have to ask. When I clicked on the larger image, I could see some large red dots in the centre of the image which later became too distracting for me. What are they?

  2. I like it. There was a National Geographic photographer who took amazing photos – ballet included – with long exposures. I forgot his name, though. It’s not an easy thing to get right.

  3. Okay, so what we’ve got here is a blurry dance pic by a photographer who has never been to a ballet before. I’ve seen a kazillion of these… but I actually like this one (and the other two in your Instagram.) It really does take a good eye to get blurs that have some shape to them, rather than just being smeary. And I like the way you’ve taken the unavoidable “problems” (stage lights behind, unlit lamps in front, empty dark areas top and bottom) and turned them into compositional elements.

    • I appreciate your critique, JL! I thought if I spent enough time experimenting with shutter times I might luck out. To be honest I shot nearly 400 blurry photos, and this (as well as the 2 other I posted on Insta were the only ones that turned out!). I’d love to keep shooting the ballet and hone in on the technique even more.

  4. I agree with Clint sometimes dead space is really important in focussing the image. Check out Saul Leiter’s work and his clever use of dead space!

  5. that’s a real good theatre shot filled with live… a live still pic … but I would cut off a big lump of the bottom to increase focus!

    • I disagree…composition is good as it is. You have a 1/3 of the frame dark at the top and bottom and a 1/3 in the middle with all the action; a nicely composed shot.

      • agreed, If you wanted to cut either top or bottom to re-contextualize the image you would have needed to recompose it and you might then have wanted to find a way to get some detail in either border.

        • Yeah I deliberated a bit over the final cropping of the image. I felt like the dark border above and below helped frame the action a bit better. Totally subjective of course!

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