Simply Put: You Must Be Prepared for the Worst

May 31st, 2010 by Rick Sammon

Photographs © Rick Sammon

Canon 15mm lens (above). Canon 24-105mm lens (below).

Both: Canon 5D Mark II.

Last month my photography workshop brought us to the Sister’s Meal Festival in a remote area of China. It’s truly an amazing experience: hundreds of women get dressed in heavy silver and cloth outfits and perform a dance in the hope of attracting a husband.

The outfits weigh more than 40 pounds. Dancing in the hot sun for hours can’t be fun.

Anyway, the light was bad: harsh, direct sunlight. Adding to the challenge, the silver head dresses reflected the bright light, and the subject’s faces were shaded by the headdresses. Aaargh!

To remedy that situation, we used our flashes for daylight fill-in flash, and a reflector and a diffuser – accessories that compress the brightness range of a scene so that it can easily be recorded by a digital camera, without blown-out highlights and dark shadows.

Because we  were prepared for the worst, we were able to get evenly exposed images like the one below.

To help capture and convey the excitement and size of the event, I used my 15mm full-frame fish-eye lens and held it above my head and tilted it downward for a unique viewpoint. This lens is great for capturing large groups, because it enhances the way a scene is recorded – capturing an extremely wide scene and exaggerating perspective.

The idea today was to “tell the whole story” of the festival. Telling the whole story can easily be accomplished simply by taking wide-angle shots and close-up shots – and everything in between. Everyone did a great job. More story-telling photos to come.

If you are interested in joining my 2011 China workshop, shoot me an email at email hidden; JavaScript is required. DPE’s Juan Pons will most likely join the fun!

Explore the light – and explore telling the whole story.


Keep up with Rick and Juan at the Digital Photo Experience.



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