Sunday, July 27, 2008

Glow

So last weekend was the Santa Monica Glow event (http://www.smgov.net/smarts/glow/). I thought I was going to some cool large scale glowing art exhibit. Lots of large colorful lights in all sorts of shapes and sizes... Lot's of cool technology art pieces etc. Well... it did have lots of cool technology stuff, but it was really just an all night long party. The bars were packed with people all through the night. More people were going down to the pier at 1 AM than there was at 7 PM (or any other hour of the day... there were people dressed up in all sorts of strange costumes (one guy wore a glowing ram horns on his head... other people just had glowing jackets and stuff). There were club music with DJs, dance floors, live performances, etc... just one big party.

Since I was expecting interesting cool large sculpture type art work, I originally had on my 10-22mm to get interesting distortions, crowd type shots, etc. 10-22 is such a fun lens and I figured it'll be bright enough with all the lights so it should be easily hand-holdable at 1/16secs. I don't even think I brought my 17-85, or if I did I had no intention of using it. As it turned out... 10-22 probably wasn't the best lens for the situation, I got a few shots in that I liked, but overall the scale of the art pieces were far too small to use the 10-22. The wide coverage also meant metering was much more difficult, only a small portion of the frame was brightly lit by the lights. Here are a few shots that I liked more from my 10-22:

I was walking down the pier boardwalk when I noticed a line of people sitting down on the wooden beam, eating, resting etc. I just thought to myself... "wow, that's kinda cool, there must be a great photo hidden in here somewhere". I had my 10-22 on my tripod at the time, I knew I wanted the camera to be super close to to the ground so you get the extortion and make the people seem a little further away and just stretched out going into the center of the frame. So instinctively I just put the tripod down on the ground, and pressed the shutter button. I didn't frame it (it was too low to the ground for me to see through the view finder without getting down on the ground myself). I figured I'd take a test shot, see how it looks and adjust... little did I know, as soon as the shutter closed, the LCD shut off and my camera just stopped... out of batteries! One of the girls sitting down must have noticed me and turned around to look to see what I was doing. I didn't want to freak them out or anything, so I just picked up the tripod and kept moving... praying that the last shot made it onto the card and was actually ok (i.e. all the girls were actually in the frame). Lucky for me, it turned out mostly fine. There were some random people walking around on the right side of the frame which was a bit distracting so my friend recommended that I crop it out (and I think it made the picture MUCH better). This photo was shot in black and white originally as I've been playing with high contrast B&W stuff and the sky was just a dull gray at the time. I thought a color shot would have just been boring and dull (probably colorless too) so I didn't bother. It turned out a bit darker than what I wanted, maybe too contrasty? Either way, given that I had exactly one shot to shoot, I'm happy with the results. Moral of the story... just because you shoot digital, don't assume you will have a second shot. Sometimes the moment passes, sometimes... you run out of battery. Learning to see the opportunity and act on it quickly is still just as important as ever.


Took this shot on the ferris wheel as it was circling down. I set the camera on Tv at 1/2 secs (well below hand-hold speed but I wanted the blur so I figured it was ok). I just needed to make sure I get enough forward movement to create that motion blur while everything in the gondola would be (semi) sharp which creates interesting contrast. I also got a few interesting shots here and there with the wide angle, but I quickly got frustrated with it so on several occasions I switched to my 70-200 lens which allowed me to focus in on one subject, or the more interesting part of a subject and ignore the boring black sky. With a long telephoto, I can also get nice background blurs... and when the background is just lights, it makes for a real nice dreamy image.

This was shot wide open at 2.8 at 70mm. I really wanted this shot since I wanted a close up of one of these robot marine life things with another one in the background completely blurred out to just patches of bright colors. The framing is a bit tight, but the other shots I had just didn't quite lit up the same way... in the end, I picked the color and brightness over better compensation.

I also got a few people shots that I like

The first shot is of some random stranger. I was done taking pictures so I started to just look around, absorb the atmosphere a bit more when I noticed this girl sitting across from me really getting into photographing these glow sticks in the sand. Given how dark everything was, her face was practically only illuminated by the glow of her LCD... so I got this idea to get a picture of her lit up by the LCD (and pitch black around her). I was hoping she'd smile... but this was the best shot I got of her. I wish the LCD glow was a bit warmer instead of that hard white light... oh well. The second shot is of a friend who came to Glow with me. I noticed the box of glow sticks and figured it was probably bright enough to fully illuminate a face and that'll just have this cool warm glow on the face. So I just asked my friend to get down on the sand and peer into the box... like a little kid and smile. She did exactly that and I snapped the photo. I just love her expression and the glow from the box... Anyways, overall Glow was a very interesting and challenging photo opportunity for me. While the 10-22 certainly came in handy at times, I really think that 70-200 turned out to be a much better lens choice. It was flexible and really allowed me to capture the fine details of each art piece. The 2.8 aperture also helped of course. In the end, I ended up with 1 or 2 shots that I really like, a but most of them were kind of just bleh. Oh well, just keep shooting I guess :\