Sunday, May 16, 2010

Miss Fair and Lovely 2010

What would force me to wake up at 7am on a Saturday morning and drive like a mad man to the Sarawak Cultural Village at such an unearthly hour while braving the rain?

Well, its the Miss Photogenic Competition in conjunction with the Miss World Harvest Festival 2010 to be held on the 29th and 30 of May. They opened the floodgates by inviting as many photographers as possible to participate in the event (in the end about 60 of us showed up I reckon). It was still raining when I got there, so in order not to spoil the participants' make up, we were all packed into the Orang Ulu house. It was quite hot and stuffy inside the rooms unless you went outside the patio to have a breather.

Aside from the limitations of space and time (trying to shoot 15 models in 2 hours isn't an easy job I reckon), it was almost a futile activity to bounce our flashes off the timber coloured interiors using high ISOs of 1600 and above. I was in fact wondering what the heck some folks were doing when they took out their 70-200 VRs to shoot in such dark conditions on a D300. Although it isn't that serious, you do lose some detail and colour fidelity at high ISOs, hence I would still try to avoid it at all costs. As you can see, you can still manage to do a decent job with bounce flash, but the picture looks quite lifeless and lacks detail.

It was only after I set up the Lastolite that things began to look more rosy. The smooth, directional light softened their complexion and gave a glowing effect to their skin tones. Of course, everyone started to play with CLS (Creative Lighting System), softboxes and shoot through umbrellas, and that's when the party started to get a little more crowded than desired.

I also managed to experiment with RAW files and found that they were indeed superior to the jpegs produced in camera with regards to colour reproduction, dynamic range and tones, which I honestly found to be a a little discouraging. But even so, the camera still managed to capture an admirable result with images packed with detail. Its also very pliable in post production. I managed to increase the exposure of some images by a stop without noticing much noise creep into the shadow areas.

We photographers can be pushy at most times, and its not surprising that you wouldn't get the best expressions out of some models as hard as you try to do so. But I am very impressed with their perseverance in getting the best shots and not complaining a single bit despite sweating in the hot rooms filled with heaps of sweaty photographers.

The contestants were very cooperative, and they knew the basic poses which made our jobs quite easy. I guess they were thought well in boot camp with regards to what is to be expected.

The other photographers tried all they can to get the best results. Some even put LED panels on their hotshoes in an attempt to light the faces, albeit its only effective at close distances, and for headshots mostly.

After a while, most folks prefered to stay outdoors as the lighting was much better. Well at least one didn't need to use high ISOs and be subject to camera blur at low shutter speeds as compared to indoors.

The drizzling weather offered very soft lighting to complement the contestant's smooth skin. I guess it can look a little dull to some, but its worked for me so far.

I end with two of my favourite images of the day. I think this contestant deserves the Miss Photogenic award. What do you think ? ;)


1 Comment:

David Chua said...

Good job, Brandon! Nice side lighting!


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