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DustDance-002

Dust dancing is the generic name for any type of dance photography involving high speed lighting (such as strobes or speed lights) and dust like material; flour, talcum powder, corn starch, etc… I first stumbled across an example of this ages ago. I can’t honestly remember which photographer’s work burned its way into my memory first but I knew the idea was great and I wanted to try it. As somebody unequipped and inexperienced with off camera lighting at the time I relegated the potential shoot to the “someday” bin. Between then and now I was blessed to with the great friendship of Lawton Ballet Theatre owners Katie and Scott Veenhuizen. We talked about dance shoot ideas on a regular basis and were finally able to pull the elements together for a pretty full evening of shooting in late January 2015. These shots are from the second half of the evening.

A few things to keep in mind if ever you attempt this yourself:

  • Flour gets everywhere (including your equipment and your eyes)
  • Flour can be a pain to cleanup
  • Without high speed lighting, your results won’t be crisp.
  • It’s best to get your shot on the first attempt. It takes a while for dust to settle after the fact.
  • Moving your lighting mid shoot will completely change the look and feel of your images. This is true for any shoot but I feel it should be reiterated.
  • Flour gets everywhere. Seriously, it does.

 

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The sun sets over Quanah Parker Lake in the Wichita Mountain Wildlife Refuge while covered in lily pads

If ever you’re given the opportunity to watch a sunset or exercise your landscape photography skills from the Wichita Mountain Wildlife Refuge, north of Lawton, please take it. Some of the best landscapes and sunsets in Oklahoma are visible from the roughly 59,000 acres of protected lands. Whether viewing from the summit of Mount Scott or the banks of one of the many bodies of water within its borders, the refuge will likely provide you with a memorable experience. I personally reside within a short drive’s distance of the refuge so I get to shoot the expanses more often than not. The unfortunate aspect of the refuge is the public visitation hours, which are variable throughout the year based on sunrise and sunset. Don’t get caught after hours. Dealing with federal law enforcement isn’t what I would label as enjoyable.

 

Crepuscular rays loom over Lost Lake in the Wichita Mountain Wildlife Refuge
Sunset captured from Lost Lake

The last light falls off behind the horizon in the Wichita Mountain Wildlife Refuge
Sunset over Caddo Lake

A surprise explosion of color ignites as the sun sets for the day
Sunset from Mount Scott

The sun sets over Quanah Parker Lake in the Wichita Mountain Wildlife Refuge while covered in lily pads
One of a few shots I snagged of lily pads on Quanah Parker Lake

The sun sets over Quanah Parker Lake in the Wichita Mountain Wildlife Refuge while covered in lily pads

The sun sets over Quanah Parker Lake in the Wichita Mountain Wildlife Refuge while covered in lily pads

The sun sets over Quanah Parker Lake in the Wichita Mountain Wildlife Refuge while covered in lily pads

A flourish of last minute color kisses the sky as sun sets in the Wichita Mountain Wildlife Refuge
The number of lonely trees in the refuge is very conducive to snagging a great shot.

One of many great shots from a senior portrait shoot in Southwest Oklahoma
The sun sets over a Southwest Oklahoma Cotton Field

 

I had been looking for this shot for a while. There are several hundred miles of back roads in SW Oklahoma begging me to leave Lawton on an exploratory excursion. Quite often I’ll find a scene similar to this but the environment contains a fatal flaw that will be a nightmare to remove in post; power poles, fences, random equipment, etc.. This was one of those moments where everything seemed to click. I anticipated a great sunset. I left with more than enough time to get the shot and found a scene with none of the aforementioned obstacles in my way. To passers by I create quite the scene while standing on top of my SUV with a tripod mounted camera intently focused on the horizon in front of me. This is the type of photography that I do just for me. It’s my sanctuary.