Low Light – Fashion Catwalk Shows

The scenario: you arrive in good time and ask for a preview of the shows lighting setup.

FashionShow_PoorLight-40017mm2.8

Don’t panic, lighting is not always this bad, but… this show has no overhead lights on the runway at all.

As photographers we need to be able to adapt quickly to conditions. How do you deal with capturing a model walking down an unlit runway? By making smart decisions. If you get to know your camera settings, there are a few things that can help you…

Keep in mind that this may be a case of “making the best of a bad situation”.

Here are some quick tips to consider in low light:

  • Use a flash
  • Be creative
  • Steady your camera
  • Shoot tight
  • Position

Below I have expanded upon these points in more detail and provided samples of photos I took.

Use a Flash
If you’re using a DSLR and you have to use a flash, your best bet is to use an external flash. These flashes can be manipulated and turned to bounce off of a wall or the ceiling. So you’re lighting your subject from the top or the side, rather than directly. As you can see below, the direct flash in this situation casts a harsh light on the model and sharp shadows behind her.
FashionShow_PoorLight-2000140mm2.8

Be Creative
Embrace the low light and get a little creative. Shoot to include the name of the designer in your photos and get the audience perspective of the show. Make the low light a feature of a few of your images. Silhouettes always look cool.
FashionShow_PoorLight-2000170mm3.2

Steady Your Camera
Yes, sometimes the use of a flash just can’t be avoided. Get your camera on a steady surface and you can avoid the blur that inevitably spoils the photograph. My choice would be to use a mono-pod and low light flash to fill in the shadows.
FashionShow_PoorLight-2000200mm3.2

Shoot Tight
Set your aperture to its widest setting, 2.8 in my case. This will allow the most light to enter your lens. Shoot at the top end of you zoom, in my case 200mm, and wait for the moment.
FashionShow_PoorLight1600200mm3.2

Position is Key
Try your best to get a different view from other photographers. By getting a close enough position, you can compose your shot to emphasise the small details and capture movement.
FashionShow_PoorLight-500200mm2.8 (2)

These photos are the “better” ones I could share to help put my tips into perspective. Keeping calm and working with what you have will pay off. You will always get a few bad shots to begin with. Learn from those and remember to capture a different perspective at the event.

Photos:Zulfphotography.com
Event: Asiana Bridal Show 2014
Location: Birmingham Edgbaston Stadium
Date: Sunday 30th November 2014

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