Happy Memorial Day. Another great morning in the Capital District. People gathered en masse near the Education Building to cheer the Memorial Parade 2010. While I have strong opinions on the war in Afghanistan and Iraq, now is not the time: there is an obvious respect to be paid to those who helped liberate my country back then. We do have a similar day in France, but it doesn’t feel quite like the same commitment (cue “surrender” jokes). A few anti-war pro-peace protesters marched as well today. They have their rightful place in this parade and their opinion was recognized too. Enjoy this sunny day, or get some work done on a patio outside: I know I will.
More photos below, or check the full-screen Flickr slideshow, or click on any of the thumbnails below to open a larger view.
My photo tips. Here is something I learned taking pictures of the St. Patrick’s Day Parade earlier this year: pay more attention to the background and switch location. The error I made back then was to stick to one spot, close to my friends at the corner of Lark and Washington, and shoot the parade from there. While the photos were pretty decent, the background was much of the same in most of my shots. This gets old fast. A shame, really, considering the Capitol and several government buildings were a few blocks away. Your typical parade is moving rather slowly, an opportunity one can use to move around, find a better point of view, and work on composition. I tried not to repeat the same mistake today and walked down the street right away to use the Education Building and its columns as a more interesting backdrop. I crossed the street a few times to get the trees on the opposite side of that building as well. Later on I moved back towards Center Square and took a few more photos along the way. I think there is more variety this time around.
The gear. I chose to travel light today and packed only one lens, my Canon 70-200mm f/2.8 zoom. I figured I could always take a few steps back and walk ahead of the parade if I needed a wider angle. I have only one camera body, switching lenses back and worth has cost me interesting photos in the past. I’m referring to you, elusive bald eagle in Garrison, NY! Some photoshoots have distinct parts that call for distinct lenses: say, a wide angle lens for the start of a race and a zoom for the finish. This wasn’t a clear case here, therefore I favored the glass that gives me the best close-ups, the 70-200mm. This is a range I’m comfortable with, your mileage may vary of course.
The parade is slow, but what’s going in the parade itself may not. In some of the photos below I tried to really freeze the flags in motion and capture the precision of a military march. To do so, I made sure my camera was set to Shutter Speed Priority mode (Tv), at least at 1/640th a second — 1/3000th on my 5D Mark II on a bright day. At this speed I’m pretty confident the camera will be wide open at f/2.8 or f/3.2, to get that nice blurry background.