EOS World photographers joined EOS Professional Justin Ng to shoot Chingay Parade 2017 and discovered the challenges that come with shooting a vibrant event that throws non-stop action at you. Braden Wong shares his experience with us.
SHOOTING THE CHINGAY PARADE 2017
At the recent 45th annual celebration of Chingay, some photographers from EOS World accepted EOS Pro photographer Justin Ng’s invitation to tag along and pick up some shooting experience at this lavish festive parade. Chingay is a word derived from the Hokkien dialect, meaning “The Art of Costume and Masquerade.”
This year’s edition features special effects using water, fire, snow, lighting, Xinyao and music to go with the theme “Soundwaves Chingay, WeCare Singapore.” Comprising both local and foreign contingents, the parade was colourful, loud, joyous, and the extravaganza lived up to the theme of living with multiculturalism in Singapore.
Justin Ng was well-organised and strict with his instructions while briefing us on the Chingay shoot. He even made sure we were adequately hydrated for this demanding shoot. I felt honoured to shoot and learn from him.
EOS 6D | F/4 | ISO 500 | 1/125s | Photo by Sia KT
EOS 7D Mark II | F/3.5 | ISO 1600 | 1/120s | Photo by Sia KT
Personally, I found it challenging to shoot under harsh lighting, ever-changing colours and performers constantly moving in different directions. Stunts pulled off by performers were unpredictable and gone in a flash.
EOS 7D Mark II | F/4 | ISO 5000 | 1/125s | Photo by Sia KT
There were fireworks everywhere, some even originated from the colourful floats. We were also required to capture the special effects of water, fire, snow, lighting, the Xinyao mood and the musical parade. I have to say that the Chingay parade provided me a unique experience like no other.
Most photographers would shoot in RAW format to capture more details from the event and edit later. However, for Chingay, we shot in JPEG. Editing wasn’t allowed. Neither were tripods or monopods. That meant we had to handhold our fireworks shots.
Flashlights were pointless as the range of the flash is too weak to light the crowd behind the subject and might unwittingly blind the performers and cause accidents.
EOS 5D Mark III | F/5.6 | ISO 3200 | 1/160s | Photo by Ignacia Sandra
To familiarise ourselves with the parade, we attended numerous rehearsals nightly so that we could locate the best spots to shoot. During one of the rehearsals, it rained but we carried on with professionalism. Although most of Canon’s cameras are weather sealed, we still covered our cameras as an extra measure.
EOS 5D Mark III | F/5.6 | ISO 1000 | 1/250s | Photo by KW Phua
EOS 5D Mark III | F/5.6 | ISO 12800s | 1/320s | Photo by KW Phua
At first, I spent too much time composing my shots, making sure my exposure and the moment were right before I press the shutter button. But I soon realised that I missed a lot of moments while trying to nail perfect shots. Even though I had beautiful images, my shot counts were unsatisfactory.
Altering my strategy, I decided to shoot in Manual mode, quickly adjusting my settings before each contingent passed. I estimated the exposure based on the first few sample shots I took.
EOS 5D Mark III | F/2.8 | ISO 4000 | 1/160s | Photo by Gary Ang
Although the exposure is still different for every shot, I looked for a pattern in the lighting as well as the performer’s stunts or dance moves before I take the shot. This is why it pays to attend several rehearsals. I also had to lower my expectations – as long as the moment was going to happen, I fired away in Burst mode.
EOS 5D Mark III | F/2.8 | ISO 5000 | 1/400s | Photo by Gary Ang
EOS 5D Mark III | F/2.8 | ISO 5000 | 1/2000s | Photo by Gary Ang
Since everything happens so fast and there is so much to cover, I had to change my settings and exposure quickly. Practice makes perfect.
For photographers who want to shoot for events like Chingay, you will definitely improve and learn something every time. Before long, you would be shooting like a pro.
Being able to share photography tips with one another while Justin gave us feedback for our shots to help us improve made this an extremely rewarding experience on the whole.