Rio de Janeiro – Photo Tip

Zoom in on faces in the crowd

A samba school dancer shows off her skills in front of a float shaped like a giant lion. The floats started off as a humble accompaniment to a school's performance but now form an integral part of it. Made from anything from papier-mâché to plaster cast figures, the cost of making and decorating one can exceed US$200,000.

Photo by Julio Etchart

Rio de Janeiro – Photo Tip

Zoom in on faces in the crowd

When working in busy situations, and with only artificial available light, there are a few things you must pay attention to.

Julio Etchart
Julio Etchart Travel Writer

The huge gym in Mangueira favela (shanty town) on the northern fringes of Rio is packed with agile young women and men rehearsing. They are rehearsing at the Gremio Recreativo Estacao Primeira de Mangueira, one of the pioneering and most popular samba schools in Rio.

Founded in 1928, it boasts thousands of members and has launched some of the country’s best-known singers and TV soap stars. This evening is for the women to try their costumes for next year’s carnival, so I am in heaven photographing them.

I isolated the subject with a long lens, my lightweight Canon 70-200 F4, making sure that the IS (Image Stabilizer) was on, since there was no space to use a monopod. You do not need a big depth of field, since the focus should be just on the main person, so an aperture of F5.6 was just right for the occasion. I wanted the dancers as sharp as possible, so I used a fast shutter speed of 1/200, since holding the big lens steady is tricky.

Dancers at a Samba school rehearse for the carnival. Every aspect of their parade must tell part of...

Dancers at a Samba school rehearse for the carnival. Every aspect of their parade must tell part of the story and the school is judged on artistic merit, complexity and interpretation. Photo by Julio Etchart

Julio Etchart

Julio Etchart

Canon PowerShot G1 X

Aperture
ƒ/6.3
Exposure
1/100
ISO
320
Focal
8379/500 mm

Dancers at a Samba school rehearse for the carnival. Every aspect of their parade must tell part of the story and the school is judged on artistic merit, complexity and interpretation.