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Photographing the Silent Disco in Manitou Springs

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© SEAN CAYTON / ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
  • © Sean Cayton / All Rights Reserved
I have to constantly remind myself that nothing ever comes out the way you expect, but that's part of the beauty of photography — discovering something new by accident.

In other words by failing to achieve your vision, you discover something new that can help you in your journey later.

© SEAN CAYTON / ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
  • © Sean Cayton / All Rights Reserved
Such was the case when I attended the Manitou Springs Silent Disco. I brought with me my mirrorless Fuji X100F. I had in my mind that I would make epic silhouettes using the laser lights on stage. I wanted to get a shot of the disco goers as they danced.

© SEAN CAYTON / ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
  • © Sean Cayton / All Rights Reserved
I could shoot this scene with Canon cameras and a supper fast lens, perhaps add a little off-camera flash to really capture the scene but could I make a picture using my walk-around camera?

© SEAN CAYTON / ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
  • © Sean Cayton / All Rights Reserved
The first problem I discovered when the disco started was that it was much darker than I thought. While the lights on stage were really cool, there wasn’t enough light on the dance floor to flush out the scene.



© SEAN CAYTON / ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
  • © Sean Cayton / All Rights Reserved
I had to pump my ISO as high I could get it in order to have a fast enough shutter speed to capture the action, but that made the dance floor pitch black, so that was no good.

The next problem I encountered was that I couldn’t achieve enough separation between the dancers on the dancer floor and the lights on the stage. Generally, I could see dancers heads and above that the laser lights, but really nothing else that helped me to separate them from the pitch black I created using my fast shutter speed.

© SEAN CAYTON / ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
  • © Sean Cayton / All Rights Reserved
Finally, no matter how hard I tried, I just couldn’t get anything in focus. My depth of field at f2.0 was just not enough and focusing manually was impossible.

So I learned some things about what my walk-around my camera could and couldn’t do. I pushed the limits of my equipment and my knowledge, and I know now that I can’t make this work without a little more light and a little better focus capability.

It’s ok to fail sometimes. Failing in photographing can lead to new discoveries and teach you how to better use your cameras to achieve the vision you intended in the first place.



Sean Cayton is a wedding photojournalist of 19 years and operates a successful, award-winning wedding photography studio in Colorado Springs. He's also an award-winning photojournalist. Sean is happily married to the love of his life (also his business partner) and is father to three beautiful children. When he’s not working, Sean can be found outside flying kites with his kids, hitting golf balls or casting a fly rod to hungry trout.

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