It has been quite a terrible while since I last updated this sacred blog of mine, has it not? Unfortunately I have been flooded with a thousand and one things to do, both at work and off work, and this usually meant only one thing ultimately, this blog regular updates have got to be sacrificed. As much as it pains me to shove this beloved place of mine aside, I would do all I can to keep it alive, and there is no stopping to this, I assure you.
I have found out about this interesting event organized by Panasonic Malaysia, Lumix Star Search, and the finals for this event was held earlier on this afternoon at the Mid Valley Exhibition Center. It was not so much of the thought of having 12 finalists parading themselves on the stage and being able to photograph them that gave me the inspiration to make my decision to kill off my Saturday afternoon at Mid Valley. It was actually due to one of the finalists, and her name is Felixia Yeap, who is no stranger to most photographers
On the official website, it was published that the event itself would start at 1pm. I made my way to Mid valley and reached the stage 15 minutes before 12pm. There and then, the first line in front of the stage has been occupied with a group of random photographers who set their stand for the best position being as early as they could. I still managed to find quite a decent spot, and plunged my territory there, and never moved ever since until the whole thing started. I was told that the event would actually commence at 1.30pm, and that was a horror, considering the fact that I could not move away from my spot for 1 hour 45 minutes, or else I would return with vultures blocking me from the front line !! 30 minutes later, two front rows have been flooded.. and not too long after that, the entire hall was filled with photographers with their huge cameras and lenses. If you come even half an hour before the show, you have got to make sure you bring those fold-able portable stands/ladders to elevate yourself above the enormous crowd surrounding the stage, or else you would be better off spending the rest of the afternoon shopping.
The event kicked off late, and it started approximately at 1.50pm. The models did their usual thing on stage, striking some unsightly odd poses, which was not surprising since many of them do not have much experience in modeling before. Some of them were actually still studying in secondary school, one will be sitting for SPM this year. Fresh talents here, so I was not anticipating that many professional appearance. The more experienced performers, such as Felixia however, was an entirely different story, with her many stage shows she had done before, posing was a breeze for her as it seemed. One minute later, she was all over the floor exploring many styles that none of the other models did. I have to admit, she was really good. I have been impressed by her stage show before, and this time, she did not impress me less.
If Panasonic Malaysia is a man, and if that man walks anywhere near the stage of Lumix Star finals, I doubt the man would leave the hall with his head or arms and legs attached. I do not know whose idea it was, or what the reasons were to adopt stage lighting that emmited such a strong BLUE cast !! The moment the spot light was turned on just before the show started, you can audibly hear very loud grunts and moans of disapproval from ALL photographers in unison. From all the stage events I have covered so far, this was by far the worst setup, EVER. The blue cast was beyond annoying, rendering very cool tones to the overall color being captured, and it was undesirably destructive to the skin tone of the models as well. I would have preferred the circumstance even if they turned everything off !!! Panasonic Malaysia should be hammered mercilessly by all photographers for this terrible fault.
I instantly devised some methods to counter the strong blue cast created by those useless spot lights.
1) Use the flash to overpower the stage lighting. This is relatively easy to achieve, by tuning up the flash intensity, and increase the shutter speed, less ambience light will be captured, as the main source would be from the flash itself, which can produce more pleasing skin tones and overall color.
2) Set Manual White Balance. My camera offers control over the white balance, and shifting it towards the warmer side of scale can counter the cool blue cast, producing a more balanced looking photograh.
3) Shoot in RAW, and worry about everything later.
I decided to combine the options 1) and 2) and managed to salvage my shots from being completely ruined. Nonetheless there are traces of the defects on the photos, and the cast is very evidently observed on the backdrop. The skin tone was also somehow affected, being not so natural as opposed to the usual tungsten yellowish cast of commonly used spotlights for stage lighting. I am not a fan of shooting in RAW, but I do believe it offers more flexibility and controls over the color balance, and I guess many photographers out there would have done just that.
The session was divided into three sessions in total, the first being the models doing their wild and free poses, the second having to wear evening gowns and pose "elegantly" while the third was the question and answer session. The question and answer session required the models to select a random question, and they must be able to impress the judges. I loathed some of the models who used this opportunity to suck up to the judges, praising them for their achievements and reputation, which was totally fake and unprofessional. I also particularly disliked some of the "unnatural" accents that the models tried to churn out of their sub-standard spoken English, which kinda made the whole conversation sounded very awkward. It was Felixia that stood out, not because she blew everyone away with her answers to the question, but she was modest, straight to the point, true to herself, spoke good English, but with very Malaysian slang (who cares) and it was not too lengthy and draggy like many others.
You do not have to ask who the winner was, because it was very obvious, even the photographers surrounding me already knew it before the event started. The winner was of course my favourite, Felixia. She has one year contract with Panasonic now, and lets see how far she goes from here.
So there it was, a great Saturday afternoon, and I spent it alone at Mid Valley. I am afraid that was the only weekend dosage I could ever get, and sadly, I shall bury myself to the pile of work that is awaiting me.