I had seen an article about Oktoberfest coming to Edinburgh and thought that it would be fantastic to photograph. So I got in touch with one of the organisers who said it would be fine. I gave Julie Bui from Oktoberfest Edinburgh a ring to confirm etc. A few days before the event was due to start she emailed wanting to meet me. So, on the day of our class trip to the Camera Obscura I went down to the venue in Princes Street Gardens to meet her. It turned out that they wanted me to take some photographs for them, and it was agreed that I would go on the Wednesday, Friday, and Sunday, to cover the event. That was fantastic, but I was also a little nervous as I would no longer be simply shooting for myself. Not that this was a problem, it was a great opportunity, but now I had to produce the goods for a client.
I had been doing a little bit of research online to try and get a feel for the event, and an idea of what to expect. I drew up a shot list: Special Moments (specified by client), Illustrate Size Of Crowd, Capture Colour/Tradition (this was an idea from a fellow photographer who had covered Oktoberfest in Germany, which I incorporated), Fun, Enjoying Beer, Serving Beer, Atmosphere, Band.
I also drew up a list of questions, and spoke to one of my college lecturers before I went. I wanted to know whether I should set the white balance manually, or use automatic. Auto was recommended due to the changing light conditions which would be present. I knew that iso would have to be high due to fairly low lighting, but wanted advice on that, which was to keep it as low as possible to avoid noise. This proved difficult, and in practice my iso was always either 1600 or 3200. Darker shots did have some noise, but better lit ones were ok.
I determined beforehand not to use/rely on flash too much, as I wanted to preserve and capture the ambient, natural light present, and also not to make a nuisance of myself. As it turned out I actually liked the way the shots without flash turned out, but it was tricky as the lighting changed. I liked the greens, blues, and pinks, but had to wait for it, all the while hoping whoever/whatever caught my eye to photograph, didn’t disappear before the desired light appeared.
This shot is an example of that. I noticed this group of people, and liked the way they were lit when the pink light fell on them, but the light would change, and they would move in conversation etc, so I had to be patient.
The band were great to photograph, and the stage lighting was easier to work with. Wednesday was really a working recce. I went early in order to check out the lighting conditions, and by the end had gotten a feel for the event.
I can say without looking at photo data that the majority of shots were taken at a shutter speed of 1/60th or 1/80th of a second, at F4-5, with an iso of 1600 or 3200. It was a great event to photograph and I really enjoyed it. Here are some of my favourite shots:
These last three shots I think are my favourite of all.
With thanks to Julie Bui, and everyone at Oktoberfest Edinburgh.