Monday, May 31, 2010
Photographing Street Painting
Each year over Memorial Day weekend, Mission Santa Barbara hosts I Madonnari, a revival of Italian street painting. This is a very popular event which draws many of the visitors in town and also local residents. The event benefits the Children’s Creative Project, sponsored by the Santa Barbara County Education Office (http://www.sbceo.k12.ca.us/~ccp/ccp_catalog.shtml ). Local businesses and non-profits purchase squares and sponsor members or independent artists to decorate the square with appropriate art work.
I have visited this event numerous times with my camera, usually focusing on the art work. This time, I decided that picturing the artists themselves would be more creative. As the day was sunny, I realized that they or their faces would be in deep shade, due to umbrellas, hats, or just because they would be facing their work on the ground. There is an example in the first picture.
In order to combat this, I brought my flash and one set of my PocketWizard wireless controls, a MiniTT1 and a FlexTT5. These devices allow my Canon 580 flash to communicate with my camera and control the amount of light produced by the flash. I set the flash on the ground pointing toward the artist, as shown the second picture.
I normally have my Flash Exposure Compensation (FEC) set to +2/3 (about 150%) and left it there for my tests on Saturday. Looking at the LCD on my camera, I could see that it was working. However, when I looked on my computer that night, I could see that it was really too much, so I went back Sunday to try other amounts of compensation.
It turns out that, the correct amount may be a matter of trial and error; somewhere between -1 (50%) and -2 (25%) of the amount computed in the camera. This probably depends upon factors which are outside the photographer’s control. You can see in the last picture the natural looking light with the FEC set to -12/3 or about 30% of the metered amount of light.