Wednesday, October 7, 2009

It's Not Just About The Gear

Snoot and Grid

...So here's my DIY snoot and grid that enabled me to shoot unobtrusively at the ECANZ Conference opening. Those are ordinary black plastic party straws, stuck together with a hot glue gun. The snoot is some closed-cell foam from an exercise mat and some velcro strips. I also have velcro strips on my flashes for attaching light modifiers just like this. This baby restricts the beam of light nicely, not just lighting a small part of the frame, but going close to unseen by most onlookers.

The second social event of the conference was a cocktail and dinner function in the Atrium of the Otago museum. I got a few shots at the start with my nifty fifty to make the most of the fading natural light.

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As the outside light faded I wanted to catch a little of it to use as a backdrop for some portraits, but I needed to mix in a little flash. To take the edge off the shadows and make people look as good as I could, instead of the snoot I popped a little DIY softbox onto my flash. It meant approaching people to look down the barrel for me, but by now everyone was pretty relaxed about my presence and I got some really nice results.

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Once the twilight had gone, I decided to shoot candids, wildlife-style with a long lens and the snoot again.

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Then the evening's entertainment began, a demonstration of highland dancing.

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Once the Highland fling had been flung, people were free to wander some of the museum, so I popped the softbox on again, got close and shot a few more groups having fun and exploring the exhibits.

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Despite my trepidations about interacting with people a little more, I started to really enjoy this part of the evening, working more closely with them and starting to get some good shots of them enjoying themselves. By the time I'd had a look at the day's shots and burned some for display at the hotel the next morning, it was the next morning - 2 am in fact, but I was buzzing and really looking forward to covering the next event, a costume dinner up at Larnach Castle. That evening would not disappoint.

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