Photography is all about putting yourself in new situations. I’ve photographed lots of kids before on location, wearing trendy gear, but I’ve never done a catwalk show before, so when Canon’s Professional Network sent down an invite to London Fashion Week, it was an experience not to be missed.
Meeting other photographers at the Charing Cross Hotel, we were given a little shooting advice from Canon’s Hin Pang, even down to what settings to use. This turned out to be a bit of a red herring as far as I was concerned. He advised us that although the models didn’t appear to be moving fast, in photographic terms they certainly were. A shutter speed of 1/500 sec – 1/640 second was recommended with an aperture of F4.5, ISO 400-800. (I can’t wait for the day when we don’t have to set ISO at all! We’re nearly there.) Hin even gave us the white balance setting. In practice, I was paranoid about eliminating camera shake despite having a posh lens with Image Stabilising, so I plumped to shoot at 1/1000 opting for a higher ISO. And why not? My 5D 2 has an excellent sensor at the higher ISO’s anyway.
Like a herd of camels, laden down, we trundled to Somerset House to be shown Canon’s media tent. Impressive. Canon really look after their people, including offering on-site repairs and rentals. Here, I met a familiar face….Sundeep always attends Focus Birmingham or product open days at places like Fixation. The media tent was a hubbub of frenetic activity…rows of Macbooks and journalists editing and sending images, feeding fashion editors like little birds with mouths open.
We were briefed on photography etiquette in ‘The Pit’, the marked out area especially for photographers. We weren’t to stray outside of the line. We were to mark our pitch with a camera bag. We were to shoot without sticking our elbows out, to avoid annoying our neighbours. Space was at a premium. Once we were in, we were surprisingly well behaved. I selected a spot close to the central point, next to the video tripods, on the lowest step. The stage lights weren’t on yet, so we couldn’t get light readings. The hum of excitement mounted as members of the general public took their seats.
Heads down and….we’re off!
My god it was fast. The clothes were lovely but some of the models looked terrified. Ex St. Martin’s student, Richard Nicoll’s collection was impressive. Strong oranges, deep, intense blues, crisp white linens and structural dresses in leather were the outfits I notice the most. All the female models sported simple, chic pony tails scraped back from their faces in an unforgiving way. Like thoroughbred horses, they strutted down the runway. It was really important to time the shots as each foot hit the floor too. I edited a lot of weird leg shapes out later.
Focussing, I decided to shoot at f5.6 to get the faces sharp, continually activating the AI Servo AF mode. Past experience has shown me that the 5d2’s centre point is the most accurate. I also felt it was critical to get the patterns on the textiles crisp over and above the faces. Mega concentration needed. For the opportunity? Thanks Canon!