Here comes the second round of the Velocity Angels Model Search showdown which was held in conjunction with the DCIM 2009 that I have been blogging for the past few entries. This round, the models were wearing some kind of cultural costume that seemed to blend Chinese, Japanese and Korean in origin, but with ridiculously striking and bold colours. The models would do their usual walk down the runway and strike some poses for the photographers. Yeah I was one of the photographers.
I have mentioned in my previous entry on my decision of not adopting the external flash, although I have one now, and almost everyone else was using it. The stage lighting provided was bright and covered the whole platform rather evenly. As you can see from my pictures the skin was very well lit by the spotlight, and no harsh shadows were apparent. The purposes of engaging the flash are primarily to boost the shutter speed of the camera in order to prevent motion blur or hand shake, to enhance skin tone and reduce shadows on the faces/other body areas, and also create the catchlight effect on the eyes which is desirable. In this particular session, I found that the stage lighting was bright enough for decent shutter speed at ISO 400, and as you can see in the pictures no apparent problematic shadows was present on the models. And catchlight was naturally created by the lighting.
Adding flash as a fill light can enhance the picture, if the photographer knows how to place it well enough to lightly kiss the subject without casting deep shadows or highlight burns. Control also has to be exerted in preventing the skin tones to be flatten out, looking un-natural. I believe flashing the models blindly without proper knowledge would actually affect the photo output adversely, rather than improving them. Hence my decision to capture the models with the available ambience lighting. On the plus side of things, my camera is lighter without the flash unit mounted, enabling easier and more comfortable handling when shooting over a long period of time. Also, the flash recycle time of 2-3 seconds per picture would dampen my timing precision by disabling the continuous (burst) shooting mode.
The obvious drawback was the warm yellowish/orange cast thanks to the stage lighting. I know this issue can be easily corrected via photo-editing softwares, and I have greatly done so, but not entirely eliminated the cast to preserve a bit of the feeling being there. Completely changing the colour tone to the true white balance would have rendered the scene a little unreal.
I could not help but wonder what the 35-100mm F2.0 Olympus super-pro range zoom lens can do in this situation. I could probably get away with higher shutter speed at even ISO 200 only, compared to what I can do with my current lens, 40-150mm F3.5-4.5. With F2.0, I could probably be able to throw the background further out of focus, popping the models out more prominently. Nevertheless, that 35-100mm lens is way out of my league, and I shall just be glad with what my current lens can do for me right now. And comparing my lens with other similar level lenses offered by different camera manufacturers, it is doing quite good.
Noting on the models performance, I have heard plenty of complaints from other photographers who were present that day as well. For some reasons the expectations from the photographers on the models were unexpectedly high. There were sniggers like the models were not posing well enough, the catwalk was not professional looking and the poses were all stereotypical magazine shoot-outs.
I beg to differ in opinion. Yes it is true that the performance were nothing stellar, or no where close to what you see in fashion TV, but hey, do count in the fact that those were raw fresh talents. Most of them would have not done similar stunts before, and it takes experience to be able to perform on stage. If you photographers were expecting something more “real” and “professional” then you can look elsewhere, get yourself invited or pay your own entries to the real professional fashion shows, or modelling sessions. So stop complaining already, I did think that the performance was rather entertaining, and the whole idea of the setup was mainly for you photographers only.
I guess it is a typical Malaysian trait, painfully annoying I must say, to expect something ridiculously high, but show almost no appreciation in return.
However, I do believe that there could be more variety on the stage shows, and having both Day 1 and Day 2 in similar patterns just killed the mood. I hope the organizers would improve on this for the following events in the coming years.