Art of Photography

Rob Townsend

Assignment 5: shooting day 1 and lessons learned

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Today I packed up two cameras, four lenses, five batteries and three memory cards for a couple of hours working on Assignment 5.

It’s the first of two days of parades as part of our weekend at Nice Carnival, and specifically today was all about the Battle of the Flowers, a parade of floral-themed floats and other attractions down the Promenade des Anglais.

My plan up until now was to use today as a ‘dry run’ and do the assignment proper tomorrow, covering the main carnival parade. However, I might actually see if I can build up enough images for the assignment with today’s shots, for a couple of reasons:

  • The weather was due to be cloudier today, with tomorrow as the sunnier day; as it turned out, the weather held up pretty well this afternoon, bright and clear, with blue skies and only intermittent wispy cloud cover which didn’t adversely affect the light
  • I realised during the parade that this particular event has more of a built-in narrative, and is more interactive between the ‘performers’ and the crowd – a huge part of the parade is the performers on the floats throwing flowers into the crowd, and the objective is to catch as many as possible (by comparison the main carnival parade, whist offering more visual diversity, is more of a ‘spectacle’ and inherently more one-way in its interactions)

So that’s the good stuff. There are however some valuable lessons that I learned today. I still intend to go out tomorrow and capture the main parade (so ideally I have a choice of two events to cover in the assignment) and will address as many of these as possible:

  • Get there earlier! We thought we’d beat the crowds, but about 45 mins before the parade started there were already no spaces left directly at the roadside, so I had to shoot over people’s heads for most of it; however, the extent to which grabbing a roadside spot would have helped is limited by the fact that…
  • … to get enough variety in angles, shooting viewpoints, focal lengths etc, you need to move around anyway! So even if we’d bagged a good spot, or paid for the elevated seating, that would have led to a series of near-identically framed images and I’d have got itchy feet and been back to shooting over people’s heads. Maybe I should carry around a little box to stand on!?
  • Don’t shoot so darn much! I used Continuous Mode far too much, and my camera defaults to 6 frames per second… so 40 minutes in I’d filled my first SD card – over 500 photos!! Now it wasn’t a big deal in that I had two empty backup cards, but the problem is that I now need to sort through and edit that 500 photos… and in some cases I have 10-12 near-identical versions of the same image!
  • No need to take all my lenses out – I only really need my standard zoom (16-50mm) and my telephoto (50-230mm) to cover all eventualities; my prime lenses won’t get a look in, and the light is so good that I don’t really need particularly fast glass anyway

Right, I’d better get back to editing these hundreds of pictures… :-/

Edit: after sorting through the images from day 1, I’m adding a fifth lesson:-

  • Watch the backgrounds! As I shot from ground level, on the beach side of the promenade, I was shooting mostly against the backdrop of buildings, mainly 4-5 storey hotels. Not as much blue sky as I’d like, and some very busy backgrounds to contend with. In some cases they’re distracting from the subject.

Hmmm, I think I need to do better on day 2…


One thought on “Assignment 5: shooting day 1 and lessons learned

  1. Pingback: Assignment 5: Applying the techniques of illustration and narrative | Art of Photography

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