Steven Brokaw Photography

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Living Dead Girl
I recently photographed the 2011 Broad Ripple Zombie Walk and Prom.  This fun event benefiting Gleaners Food Bank was a mix of costumes, make-up artists, music, dance, food, partying and ZOMBIES.  The event is held a couple of weekends before Halloween in Broad Ripple, an Indianapolis hip suburb.  The event starting in the Kroger’s parking lot includes a food donation drop-off (10 cans of tuna fish earned me a cool t-shirt), zombie makeup by local make-up artist, a Zombie Wedding (yes, a real wedding where the bride, groom, priest, & wedding party dressed the part), dancing to a DJ, a Zombie Walk through the streets of Broad Ripple, a Zombie Feast with participating eating establishments & bars, and Zombie Prom at Tru nightclub.

I met up with several local photographers to shoot the event.  Earlier I had snagged a Media Pass, so I was able to roam with immunity.  It was my zombie shield.  After hanging out with my photog colleagues for the first 30 minutes we set off on our own.

Pie Eating Contest Winner?

You Do Not Have Permission To Take My Photo!
Wow, what an event.  It was PACKED with about 1000 people in all forms of costume and make-up.  Some as basic as some face paint to full on freak-fests of zombism.  Some were truly nasty looking.  It was uber.  You got the sense some people were having way too much fun dressed up.

This Is Wrong At All Levels

Feeling A Bit Green
I brought full camera kit with me as I knew I would be faced with extreme sun, shadows, low light, street lights, and then full dark.  Also, I wanted to reach out and touch with my long lens and get in close for head shots … the only way to take down a zombie!!  Also, I brought a speedlight, diffuser & plenty of spare batteries.  My kit for the shoot: 

·         Nikon D300s
        ·         Tamron 70-200mm f/2.8 Di LD (IF) Macro AF Lens
·         Nikon SB-600 speedlight
·         6 sets of Sanyo eneloop rechargeable batteries

The entire night was shot in full manual so I could adjust shutter speed and the aperture.  Knowing I was going to be in strong light with shadows moving to darkness I wanted to manage aperture, shutter speed & ISO myself. I focused on 1/100 shutter speed as my slowest speed throughout the shoot and change aperture to get the desired DOF.  That means I sacrificed ISO (and noise) as my 3rd variable.  ISO went from 200 early on up to 1250 before it got dark.  It worked out well.  As it started to get dark (when the Zombie Walk kicked off) I popped on my speedlight and moved ISO back to 400.  Throughout the night I adjusted white balance to match the lighting.  I used presets most of the time and a few times used the kelvin setting and set the color temperature based on experience.

Makeup Artist?
My weapon of choice throughout the night was my trusty Nikon D300s.  I started off with my Tamron 70-200 f/2.8.  This lens is very solid in good lighting environments, but a piece of junk (OK not so good) in low light settings.  It doesn’t have VR which limits it to tripod use in low light and it just doesn’t focus fast enough.  I really need to suck it up and buy a Nikkor 70-200 f/2.8 VRII.  After about 30 minutes I shifted to my Nikkor 24-70mm to take advantage of a wider zoom.  Finally, when the Zombie walk started I switched to a Nikkor 35mm prime to take advantage of the wider aperture and the lightning fast focus.  Also, since I was taking extremely close-in street portraits the 35mm (53mm effective with a cropped sensor) focal length was perfecto.  I ended up not using my Tokina extreme wide angle mainly because I wanted to focus on close in shots.

Zipper Face

Bad Day In The Office
Overall, a great night and tons of fun.  I ended up spending about 5 hours shooting in different venues, different lighting, with / without shadows, and with tons of people dressed the part & really into the event.  What more could a photog ask for?

A few comments / tips:

·         If you have the opportunity, get a press or media pass.  I did and it was extremely helpful.  I was able to get into all venues with no drama and shoot everyone without a single, “I don’t want you to take my photo”

·         Come prepared for all types of light.  I went from uber bright to pitch black with all forms of mixed lighting and shadows mixed in.  Basically, if you know it’s going to be dark bring your brightest lenses.

·         Remember to watch where your shadows fall.  A shadow tends not to show up until you plop your image on the computer and slap yourself on your forehead.  Throughout the event I was very aware of where my shadows fell and what effect I wanted.

·         My general rule of thumb is people who dress up (or have loads of tattoos) want to be photographed.  Take advantage of it.

·         Watch where you’re standing.  I had a big backpack and the setting was tight.  More than a few times I smacked into someone when turning around. 

·         Get in close.  Some of my best zombie portraits were taken less than 24 inches away.

Way Past His Bedtime!

Dia De Los Muertos

Nikon 1 System Lenses

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