Mardi Gras in Houston 2013

It’s kind of amazing that I can spent an entire day to take the best composed cityscape photograph with perfect exposure and it barely gets a few dozen views on my Flickr account, but as soon as I post a few quick snapshots of a pretty girl, all of a sudden a ton of views show of. Well, if that’s what the people want… Seriously though, I heard that Houston was having their first Mardi Gras celebration at the Houston Pavilions in downtown so I figured there would be a few good pictures. At first, it was pretty chaotic because Critical Mass also showed up with about 100 bicycles there was a zydeco band playing with dancers and jugglers.

Mardi Gras at the Houston Pavilions

Mardi Gras at the Houston Pavilions

Mardi Gras at the Houston Pavilions

Curtis Poullard & The Creole Zydeco Band At Houston Pavilions

Mardi Gras at the Houston Pavilions

This was also a good chance to test the new Nikkor 85mm 1.8g lens. I really like the bokeh.
Curtis Poullard & The Creole Zydeco Band At Houston Pavilions

Mardi Gras at the Houston Pavilions

Mardi Gras at the Houston Pavilions

Curtis Poullard & The Creole Zydeco Band At Houston Pavilions

Mardi Gras at the Houston Pavilions

And things slowed down just as fast as they began.

Overall, I have found that given the Nikon D600’s insanely good high ISO capabilities, I have to adjust my shooting style and really change the way I use flash. With the D90 when I wanted to capture background colors and lights, I would rely on using a slow shutter speed to soak up as much ambient light as possible and use direct rear sync flash on the main subject to try to freeze the motion. ISO 800 was really as high as I was comfortable in using and 1600 was really the most I would go. I would rarely bounce the light in those situations because at those ISOs, bouncing need so much power that it would completely overpower any ambient light so I would either use direct flash or have my flash bender to at least try to have good quality light. I became fairly good in doing that actually and when there is nothing to bounce off of, I still do that with the D600.

A new strategy that I am trying out with the new camera is using high ISOs and slightly higher shutter speeds for capturing ambient light and using partially balanced light where ever I can find the best direction. It’s all about the direction of the light. when shooting at insanely high ISOs, you have the luxury of bouncing the light off of incomplete surfaces that you wouldn’t think would allow enough light to bounce back. Use the leaves of the tree to bounce light? Why not! there is a wall 10 feet away? Why not! In all of the above examples, the light was bounced off of something else that I wouldn’t have dared try at lower ISOs. Sure, it will waste some flash power of but even then, when you can get good directional light, it’s worth it and I doubt that it would use any more power than using direct flash at lower ISOs.

Keep in mind that I am talking about balancing ambient light and lighting the subject in situations where it makes sense to keep the ambient light like the examples above where I want to keep the colorful street signs and lights. There are other situations where you’d rather create all the light yourself.

One area I need to work on is when shooting people, to try to get some personal details from them as well so I can have better background stories. I’ve shied away from doing this because I’m not a photojournalist, but if I’m going to be doing photojournalistic type stuff, I might as well do it right.

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