Monday, October 29, 2012

Adult parade a challenge to photograph

A blurry parade shot from Saturday's parade shows the crowd.

 There are three challenges in photographing the Douglas Halloween Parade for Adults:

1: The lighting — or, more precisely, the lack of light. The event starts about 10 p.m. and despite the blazing street light and illumination from Beery Field, picture-taking can be tough for me. People are constantly moving, so I end up with a lot of blurred images. Asking people to stand still for a posed shot works, but I prefer action shots so people who see the pictures get a sample of what the event is like.

2: The crowd. Some folks said 5,000 or 6,000 people were packed into about four blocks. I conservatively estimated 3,000 people. My math was fuzzy after the first block or so where people could be eight to 10 deep because some the crowd moved with the parade — some fading into the parade itself then out again.

The crowd also becomes an obstacle at times, blocking quick movement around the route and some angles. The parade organizers were very nice to the media. We were allowed in front of the barriers to shoot, but some in the crowd quickly got impatient with having a large tall reporter in front of them. I had some people smack me on the back, telling me they couldn’t see and to get out of the way. Because of the darkness and my rudimentary camera skills, I did have to stay in one place longer than I was comfortable with, so I apologized and moved as quickly as I could.

Overall, the crowd was well behaved and respectful and the organizers had control all the time.

3: The costumes. Every year I am amazed at the creativity and work that goes into the costumes. My photos don’t do them justice.

In this election year, there were many costumes jabbing Obama or Romney. I didn’t use any photos of these for the paper or web. The parade is a perfect place for this expression, but I just want to stay out of the fray. You know if I used the Zomneys — a zombie Romney group — the paper would have heard cries of bias. Same for any of the Obama critics.

And this is a parade for adults. I stayed away from the overly sexual costumes. Each year I see a new use for balloons. No pictures of Gumby and Pokey in compromising positions or the Menstrual Cycle pedaling up Center Street. No video of leather-masked women on dog leashes.

They’re all OK for the parade and I wouldn’t censor a single costume — I just can’t see myself explaining to my editor that waist-high ring toss game.

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