Holi Festival Photography Tips pt 2

Since the post was too long I had to divide it up into Two parts

Part 1 : Keeping the camera Clean & About Festival

Part 2 : A run down of the events & how to approach as a photographer

What to expect and Do – A picture story

  • I got there 1hr early last year.
  • Lines for the colors prior to the event are very long… but those aren’t the lines to get into the event… just to buy bags of colored flour.
  • I got a feel for the surroundings
    I took pictures of the animals.

Lines for colors can be very long but that doesn't mean you need to wait in them... that's just for buying color

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    I took pictures of the indian dancers.
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    I went inside the temple. (Shoes off and refrain from flash)
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    Parking can be crazy… just so you know. So getting early could save you a lot of time hiking.


    People were just chilling before it began


    They play around a tiny bit before it starts... but just a tiny bit in comparison

  • They started throwing dust at exactly 6:00.21 seconds by my clock on the camera.
    (I don’t know the time this year)
  • I was on the temple walkway/veranda up top. Shooting down
    Looking back through my pictures I shot about 10 pictures in 5 seconds of the initial “Explosion” and that was all the time I had… so be ready.
  • It is an explosion… think atom bomb.
    That cloud of colored dust will come from no where and will completely engulf the crowd and the temple in a matter of 10-20 seconds.
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    this is just seconds before they started throwing Color

    All of the following images were taken within 5 seconds of eachother

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    You better be on fast speed shutter and just be ready to shoot instinctively... because there isn't time for thought




    A few seconds after that it hit you up on the temple



    A view from up on top the temple as the cloud of color hits

    • It will then subside with just pockets of throwing here and there from then on.
    • In the course of one minute I was nestled (tightly) on the edge of the ledge on the temple Veranda thingy. Shot a ton of shots ducked when the cloud hit us up top… but then I ran down to the bottom since there was no more visibility up top… and there will be a wall of dust… so i stood just outside taking pictures in.
    • As things subsided I got more comfortable to go in.
    • I had a distinct advantage: I knew a LOT of people. And they came up to me to get their pictures taken
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      Christina is never shy around the camera... ;)

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      I insisted in getting some of Fred's portraits

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      More friends posing for me

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    • But there will be a lot of people just willing or even WANTING you to take their pictures
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    • Lots of groups will want you to take their pictures thinking they’ll be in the paper somewhere
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      And sometimes it's true because they will end up in a local newspaper like this one did

      But really most of the time it’ll be about candids and capturing people as they just walk around
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    • Be ready for a moment of action to happen at any time
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      There is a lot of "Ambushing" going on through the rest of the night... be attentive and ready to catch that moment


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      Try to document the general feeling of all the sections of the day. The party the dancing and group fun that is going on

    • I probably walked around the crowd on the outskirts a dozen or so times that night for the next hour or so.
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    • There was all sorts of dancing and chanting and even a bunch of body surfing.
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    • I have heard that they are upgrading their sound system and amping for a much larger gathering this year.
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      I thought I'd throw a few re-edited pictures in here in B&W for the fun of it... even though it's the Festival of COLORS :)

    • I stayed until many people had long since thrown their last colored flour and had left.
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    • At the end of the evening you can get some great shots of the temple all covered in color.
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      I didn't work on getting shots of the temple covered in color... but here happens to be one that I took right before i left

    These are my specs

    701 pictures
    18-70 lens (293 images)
    50mm (322 images)
    55-200 (86images)

    Most pictures were taken at 200-400 ISO
    Most were taken at 400th of second (Not sure why… probably a manual setting that day)

    I did shoot a lot at sub f/2.8 but that’s because of the 50mm
    Then when i used my cheap kit lenses I was shooting a lot at f/4.5 because that’s what they went down to


    The pictures will probably come out very flat on the computer… not at all like you remembered from the event. That has to do a lot with the dustiness of it all and how the camera handled it… I think.
    But that’s something that can be easily handled in editing… like in lightroom.

    BTW I’ll be organizing another lightroom workshop soon… make sure you get on the email list so that you can be informed when we organize the next one. Either Begninning or Intermediate or invited to attend the advanced lightroom meeting. lightroom@jarviedigital.com

    That being said, bump up the contrast and the black levels and the vibrance (or saturdation)
    I found that bringing up blacks quite a way and bumping the brightness and fill light to compensate make the most powerful images.
    I did tend to up recovery quite a ways. Way Up!!
    Don’t be too shocked if you don’t even get the results you saw with your own eyes.
    It’s such a powerful image and strong colors and emotions that it can be a little daunting to make it appear as it is/was.


    Again… Up the Blacks and Up the Recovery (which means bring down the highlights)

    Final Words and admonitions

    Let me just tell you…  if you’re there to participate and throw flour… then DON’T whine about getting thrown at, because it will happen… just get used to it.
    I would have loved to be a part and goof around… but pick a side… what are you there to do?
    You might not be able to do both. Or at least not in the way you’d like to.

    If you’re thrashed all over with colored dust, people will take that as a sign that you’re a target and don’t CRY or Bitch about how you have an expensive camera in your hand


    Here's a look of the crowd in comparison to the temple and looking up at the veranda on top of the temple.


    1. Holi Festival Photography Tips pt 1 says

      […] Part 2 : A run down of the events & how to approach as a photographer […]

    2. Garrett says

      Thanks for these articles, Scott. You may be helping a lot more people than you even know. Awesome photos, above all!

    3. Julian says

      Nice job man. I finally read it (the night before, but that’s my MO, last minute). Very helpful. Maybe I’ll just sacrifice my D40 to the event and leave the big stuff at home…haha…yeah right…

    4. Katherine Morris says

      Thanks for the tips, Scott! And lovely, lovely pictures!

    5. Tara Winsor says

      These are some really good tips. And great pictures of it! It looks like it would be a lot of fun to hit up sometime!

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