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Thread: My first Fashion Show Shoot and some questions

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    My first Fashion Show Shoot and some questions

    The Regatta Committee (of which I am a member) decided to host a fund raising fashion show at the town's 'poshest' hotel and I was informed that I was to take the photographs.

    My normal regatta duties are Chief Gofor and taking photos of events for use in the next year's programme and I don't mind doing that.

    I did try to point out that I don't do that sort of thing; 'I'm more of a bugs and boats man' but they wouldn't listen.

    So I took my 40D with Canon 24-105 lens plus the 580 EXII flash unit. But I would like to hear how other people would have dealt with this scene.

    I tried a few prior flash tests and although the large room had a low white ceiling there were numerous lights, circulating fans, etc so bounce flash seemed a bit unreliable for most purposes. If it had been just taking some carefully positioned and posed shots, with time for thinking and checking of results, that would have been a good strategy.

    This photo, straight from camera without any enhancements, shows the general scene

    My first Fashion Show Shoot and some questions

    The models enter from the left and wait a few minutes in a group while they are announced (which was a good opportunity for a couple of quick group shots). The 'catwalk' then proceeds to the right around people sitting at tables. Then back towards me which gave a very quick walking towards me opportunity. They then turned right and walked around tables in the main area before walking towards me again through a small entrance with potted plants on either side. Another opportunity for a quick moving target.

    In view of the fact that I had to keep changing angles and shoot moving subjects I decided that hand held with a reasonably high shutter speed would probably produce the most hopeful results. And once the show started there wouldn't be any thinking time.

    So, after a couple more test shots I opted for Shutter Priority (Tv) at 1/160 with ISO 100. ISO 200 might have been better; but I knew that I would get significant background noise problems at ISO 400 or higher. Auto Focus with just the centre focusing point. Evaluative Metering. The flash was TTL setting.

    This produced an aperture of F4 which I thought might be a bit small but I didn't want a sharp and conflicting background. Although the 24-105 lens can be a bit soft when wide open.

    I started shooting Raw but after the half time break, I realised that I would run out of card capacity (I had spare batteries but no spare card) so I switched to Jpeg for the second half.

    Fearing possible over exposure problems, I moved the shutter speed to 1/200 but after a few shots I thought that I was still getting a high over exposure risk; like this photo (again straight from camera)

    My first Fashion Show Shoot and some questions

    So I set the flash for -1/3 then after a few more images I also dialed in -1/3 on the Exposure Compensation which seemed to work.

    I ended up with 200 photos, which I have only just started editing. The later Jpegs appear to be usable although some are a tiny bit on the soft side and I expect that when I get to the Raw images I will be able to make something from them.

    This, from my Photo A Day album, is one of the finished photos which I think is just about acceptable.

    My first Fashion Show Shoot and some questions

    Although I didn't want to do this shoot, I need to learn something from it. I'm reasonably happy with my editing abilities to work on these photos and produce something usable from most of them.

    But what camera settings would other people use? I don't use flash very much, except for insect photos where I use manual camera settings. Aperture and shutter speed decided by the subject and light conditions. ISO chosen to avoid excessive noise. Then Flash Exposure Compensation set to whatever is required.

    I'm happy with my macro flash photos and did consider using the same approach here but I thought that as I wouldn't have any thinking time it may be a bit risky and I might end up with 100% failure.
    Last edited by Geoff F; 23rd October 2010 at 07:06 PM. Reason: photos added

  2. #2
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    Re: My first Fashion Show Shoot and some questions

    Panning techniques would help with the moving model, if he or she is moving towards you there is more control of the shot by the photographer. If the model is moving parallel to your position then the standard panning technique should work. You have flash at your disposal, so you can freeze the action anytime you want.

    You also have to deal with the issues of multiple light sources, indoor lighting in general, and various skintones of the models.

    I think the best technique of all would be to try and time the models, just by watching the movement of their hips or the location on the stage, and when they stop and pose take your shot then. This will minimize motion blur from the model's movement and your movement as you try to steady the camera.

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    Re: My first Fashion Show Shoot and some questions

    Hi Geoff,

    If it were me ...

    I'd be finding a way to get the flash off camera and shooting through an umbrella (held by an assistant) (preferably triggered with a Pocket Wizard TT1 / TT5 so ETTL worked).

    I'd also probably be using ISO 800 (noise just isn't an issue if the exposure is correct and the image isn't excessively cropped).

    I usually dial in about -1 EC, and vary FEC to suit (often around 0 or -1).

    Very difficult to do with on camera flash though. If I didn't have a lightsphere then I wouldn't bounce off a ceiling (you'll get racoon eyes), but a good substitute technique is to bouce off something to the side of the camera (white reflector / wall / umbrella / tux).

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    Re: My first Fashion Show Shoot and some questions

    Thanks for the suggestions.

    I'm afraid that a trained assistant wasn't available, Colin. I did think that if only there was somebody else shooting I would be prepared to vary the exposure a bit more and chance missing a few shots to get more consistent results on those which I did shoot.

    Speed was one of my problems. There were about 10 shops displaying with 4 models each. And the same in the second half. They entered in a group and paused for a few seconds before strutting off around the tables in single file. Which meant that after the quick group shot I had to turn 90 degrees to face the first model who was coming towards me before they turned right into the second display area.

    By the time the last model had passed me, the first one was coming towards me from the second area at a different angle. No posing for these shots, they were just quick action as it happened and hope for the best shots. Although that did mean, if I got it correct, I would have some nice natural movement. These shots meant turning the camera on it's side to get the best orientation, which didn't help with achieving correct flash.

    And as soon as the last model had passed, the next group were waiting their turn. By the end of the first session, I was exhausted and really needed that glass of Guinness; even at 3.90 a pint!

    Another time, if I can't pass it on to a real pro, I would certainly select more negative flash compensation. Another person (providing they know what to do) holding a wireless flash would certainly help to reduce the occasional red eye. It isn't too bad though and I have been to edited it out reasonably well.

    I suppose that a higher ISO would also mean that less flash would be needed; giving a softer effect.

    The room itself didn't help either; the walls were covered with large glass fronted paintings/prints. And until I arrived, I had no idea where or what I would be shooting. I was just phoned and told 'Bring your camera'.

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    Re: My first Fashion Show Shoot and some questions

    Hi Geoff,

    Quote Originally Posted by Geoff F View Post
    I'm afraid that a trained assistant wasn't available
    It's certainly a difficult environment. If you have the gear then it's not hard to "train" someone though - just tell them to keep the brolly at 45 deg to the subject, and a couple of metres away.

    Speed was one of my problems. There were about 10 shops displaying with 4 models each. And the same in the second half. They entered in a group and paused for a few seconds before strutting off around the tables in single file. Which meant that after the quick group shot I had to turn 90 degrees to face the first model who was coming towards me before they turned right into the second display area.
    Yeah - it really comes down to "do they want photos or do they want a fashing parade". Unless you're all set up for it, it's very hard.

    These shots meant turning the camera on it's side to get the best orientation, which didn't help with achieving correct flash.
    If all you have is an on camera flash - and walls behind your subject - your far better of just shooting horizontal and cropping (you'll still have enough pixels).

    I suppose that a higher ISO would also mean that less flash would be needed; giving a softer effect.
    Not really. The sofness of the light is determined by the size and distance of the light source.

    The room itself didn't help either; the walls were covered with large glass fronted paintings/prints. And until I arrived, I had no idea where or what I would be shooting. I was just phoned and told 'Bring your camera'.
    Next time hire a couple of studio strobes and soft boxes -- that'll show 'em who'd boss!

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    Re: My first Fashion Show Shoot and some questions

    Eventually, those Raw shots saved the day. Wow, what a difference between Raw and Jpeg on a stressed shoot like this one. And I did use the large fine Jpeg setting.

    The Jpegs, although they had -1/3 off the flash settings, were all bordering on over exposure and a bit on the soft side; but when I eventually got around to editing the Raw images (with Raw Therapee) they were almost all usable images and I had to add a little bit of positive exposure compensation.

    I normally do shoot Raw but never realised that there could be so much difference between the two. If anybody still has doubts about shooting Raw, this should convince them.

    And I finally realised why I was getting rather bizarre 'poorly painted doll faces' on some models. Over sharp and over exposed faces while the rest of the photo still needed improvement.

    They must have applied their anti wrinkle treatment, fake tan and skin gloss with a very large trowel. I think if they started to laugh their faces would have split in two!

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