Friday, April 3, 2009

4/3/09 - Fashion Runway Shoot

This was quite the educational experience.... on a couple of levels.

I was asked by one of the mothers in the neighborhood to photograph her daughter at a fashion show she was modeling in. This seemed like a good opportunity so I agreed. I had a pretty good idea what I needed to do, but having never done any runway photography I spent some time researching it beforehand. Like most concepts of photography, there are varying opinions. However, the prevelant opinion for runway photography is a 75-200mm f/2.8 on a monopod and no flash. This is what I went with.

Before the event I also contacted the event organizer to make sure she was ok with me photographing. Technically, she did not have to agree, but did. In fact, it turned out that there was no other photographer there and she asked if I wouldn't mind photographing all the models. When asked about charging I told her that I would charge for prints but not an event fee.

I got to the event an hour early so I could checkout the layout, the lighting, and grab a prime spot at the end of the runway. Right away I became concerned about the lighting. The major lightsources were three skylights directly above the runway, with sidelighting from various flourcent and tungsten sources. I did some tests and found that I could shoot f/4 at about 1/250 at ISO 500 at the middle of the stage where the skylights directed the greatest amount of light. With my 30D, ISO 500 is about the limit. You will get some graininess, but it's useable. My biggest concern was that at the front of the runway the skylight would be behind the models and the exposure dropped to f/4 at 1/100. This would be ok with the older models who took their time and stopped to pose. With the younger kids who sped down the runway and never stopped, it was going to be tricky. But, I didn't want to risk unfocused images with wider than f/4 or excessive graininess with anything greater than ISO 500. I had my flash setup with me, but really didn't want to use it and figured I was going to chance it.

For the entire show I shot in aperature priority mode and f/4. Unfortunately, what I didn't count on was that the main lightsource varied throughout the event because the true lightsource (the sun shining through the skylights) was in and out of clouds. This didn't occur to me until I was postprocessing the photos. I ended up with an f/4 exposure range from 1/60 to 1/500. Pretty drastic. What saved me is that I shot almost 600 images and ended up with almost 200 good ones. However, because I was shooting at ISO 500, the graininess on most of the images will prevent anything larger than 5x7's (to my taste, anyway). Now, I REALLY want the 5DMkII :)

The shooting was fast and furious, and I realy had to anticipate. Althought I was exhausted afterwards, I found it exhilerating and alot of fun.