A little note for all y'all. This s the second time I am writing this blog post. The website crashed when I tried uploading my photos, and I didn't save the blogpost at all (nor did it auto save like it should have). So save often, and don't have a heartache when you lose over an hour of work.
So this morning, August 26th, I went to the Denver Color Run. I went there with the "See Like a Photographer" Meetup group (you can find the group here). Well, when I say group, it was just the organizer, Erik, and I there. Just the two of us.
We were rather surprised that so few people wanted to photograph the color run. Perhaps it was the warnings that were posted for the event. Color powder can easily ruin unprotected cameras. The fine dust can get within the lenses, and camera bodies, and are extremely difficult to clean out. So the options were to buy a water/dust proof housing, or make a disposable one with plastic wrap, and storage bags. If you wish to have a DIY solution, this article can help: LINK. The linked article is useful if you're using a prime lens. I used my 24-70mm lens, and that required a different design.
To describe the Denver Color Run, well, it was rather... clean. Quite the surprising term to describe such an event, eh? If you ever look up any pictures of a color run online, you will find images that suggests that it's quite messy. Color powder everywhere caking faces, and clothes. This Color Run though, uh, yeah, there was color but it certainly didn't stick to anyone. I too came out rather clean, and at least my DIY dustproof housing held up well. So getting those "ideal" color run images today was going to be an impossible feat. Erik, who had been to other color run events, agreed with my assessment of the situation.
At the color stations we heard a volunteer leader tell his team not to use much powder on each runner. Understandably this has the intent of making sure every participant gets some color but, believe me, there was enough powder to where they could've used much more. Even at the start there was no color thrown. Not quite the way I would expect a color run to start.
Upon realizing that there would be no color at the start, Erik and I quickly made our way over to the first color station (yellow) before the first runners got there. Despite the spare amount of color, it was still fun to watch the runners get splashed with the powder. As the frequency of runners/walkers increased, I soon came to realize the challenges of photographing this event.
As things got dustier, my D800's autofocus was having difficulties locking focus onto my intended subjects. Furthermore, the dust covering my housing made it hard to see the rear screen so I couldn't confirm focus on my pictures until well after. Many photos turned out to be out of focus, and unusable. Perhaps I should have used a smaller aperture (I was using F2.8-4 for the most part) to gain a deeper depth of field but, I really wanted that subject isolation. I understand that F2.8 at 24mm doesn't mean too much, let's not split hairs though.
The issues above were most prevalent whilst being in the middle of the action. So upon recognizing these challenges, I had to think of some solutions. Obviously, the first solution was to take a shot before any powder hit a participant, and then bail out. Another perspective to try was to be a few feet after the station, and take photos of the people exiting with some color hopefully following them. Generally the kids did this best as the volunteers were more willing to dump color on them. Lastly, try photographing the volunteers themselves; they generally aren't the target of the color powder.
Despite the lack of color being thrown about, it was still possible to get some nice images. While there weren't any "explosions" of color bombarding the runners, a nice dusting can do plenty.
One interesting feature that this color run had was a foam pit. I personally am not the biggest fan of these things as they get people wet. Depending on the weather, these can make conditions miserable. Luckily for us, the day was getting hotter, and hotter. Any wet person would try off quickly.
After the 5K event, Erik, and I headed over the "after party" where we noticed, for the first time, packets of color in peoples' hands. We assumed that people got these from the stage, and we assumed correctly. While the music blared, volunteers tossed color packets off from the stage to the crowd below. I tried to get in close to the action to get a shot, and then soon realized my mistake about the dust messing with my camera's autofocus. I personally wanted that bog-standard stock photo of hands raised in the air with powder everywhere. I have figured that this would have required a longer focal length than my 70mm. While not impossible to make a similar picture with 70mm, being that close to the scene was just making things difficult.
We needed a different area to photograph from. Being the bodacious people we are, Erik and I walked around the barrier in front of the stage, and quite literally stood in front of it. Well, not smack in the center, we're not that inconsiderate. There wasn't any security enforcing things, and we acted like staff/volunteers by handing out color packets, and swag that didn't quite make it past the barrier. The staff didn't seem at all bothered with our presence. What this afforded us was a nice perspective on the crowd. I was tempted to go onto the stage but I wasn't going to push my luck To be frank, I have no idea what to do under concert-like situations. I gave it a shot, shooting at F8 for greater depth of field, and got some okay results.
Every 8 or so minutes the announcer would have everyone throw the powder into the air. I did mention earlier that the 5K run was rather clean, well, here is got a bit messier. Keep in mind that I wasn't in the crowd, I was by the stage so I kept a bit cleaner.
After a few rounds of that, Erik and I decided to call it a day. It was quite the fun Meetup event despite there being only two of us. I think that I got some decent pictures, and Erik got a sweet video when we were by the stage. And with that, I think I'm quite finished writing too! Having to rewrite this was quite bothersome... Take a look at the gallery below, and let me know what you think of my pictures! Just please be kind, and understand that not all are winners.