The annual Capital Pride Festival took place today in Albany’s Washington Park, starting with the traditional parade in Center Square. The Capital Pride itself kicked off Tuesday June 1st with a flag raising at City Hall; there were 40 events throughout the 13 days of Pride, culminating with the Parade and Festival. Unfortunately it rained a lot this weekend, Capital-District-”where is my goddamn’ summer?”-style, bringing fewer participants and floats. A good turnout nonetheless. This year marked the 40th Anniversary of the Capital District Gay and Lesbian Community Council (CDGLCC), organizers of the event. I’ve a lot of respect for the work they do here in Albany, they certainly seem to help keep this community vibrant. They were kind enough to pick my retro design last year for the Capital Pride 2009 logo, and another one this year for the brochure, ads, and fliers; I’m glad I can contribute in a small way, though I should probably disclose I’m color blind and illiterate at some point…
Photos below, or check the full-screen Flickr slideshow, or click on any of the thumbnails below to open a larger view.
In this photo below, the good folks of the Albany All Stars Roller Derby in a Wizard of Oz theme. A few more photos here. They won the “Best Walking Group” award this year, though really, they weren’t walking as much as they were skating: if you haven’t tried on cobblestone… well… good luck with that. At the end of this post, the non-violent confrontation between the Jesus car and the Jesus-crazies: boo indeed. I was actually surprised by the APD telling this fellow from the Westboro Baptist Church (?) to stick to the corner of State and Henry Johnson, most likely in police sight. Also below, Lady Gaga, who I hope got to meet Lady Gay Gay.
My interest for parades dates back to my experiences with the Love Parade, when I lived in Berlin in the early 90′s. What an incredible, colorful, ear-splitting fun that was. 1,000,000 people in 1997. I have memories of this immense crowd taking over the center of the German city, our naive attempts to catch every single events, always running out of time. I’ll talk more about Berlin after the Wall at some point, though if you haven’t been to Europe, I would recommend Paris, Prague, and Barcelona first. I miss the clubbing and its smoke-filled bunkers, but I’m not getting any younger either, right? I spent a lot of time at the E-Werk back then, a beautifully re-designed electrical substation where young Sebastien watched young Paul Van Dyk start his career. A place like no other in a very special city. Vincent Barr at the Albany TU Blog posted (and got flamed for) recently: “‘House’ still homeless in Albany, NY“: I love the local scene in the Capital District, but what happened to Electronica? Give me a place to call home now and then.
Fast forward 15 years later and I’m still taking photos of parades, though I get to share them with a few more people thanks to a series of tubes. I’ve mentioned it before, if capturing expressions on film is your thing then grab your zoom lens and do not miss the Capital Pride. Or any Gay Pride for that matter. People smile, cheer, support, tease; I always come back with a dozen decent photos and a couple special shots that bring a grin to my face, *inside*. This year wasn’t as productive as the previous one but this is a fun event to cover and certainly one to support anyway.
My photo tips. I wrote about my experience shooting the Memorial Day Parade a couple of weeks ago, the same apply here. I tried not to stick to the same location, dragging my very photographer-friendly gang along. I stopped for a bit, took some pictures, then moved with the parade to a different corner and a different background to take some more photos, etc. I packed only one lens once again, my Canon 70-200mm f/2.8 zoom; this is a very helpful lens to shoot from a distance without being noticed, though there wasn’t any need to be sneaky today, people were more than happy to smile at the camera. When they do, I try to thank them or acknowledge the gesture. I set my camera to Shutter Speed Priority mode (Tv) as usual, at least at 1/640th a second, but I didn’t go much faster than that on this very cloudy day. I kept an eye on the camera to make sure it would automatically pick an aperture between f/2.8 or f/3.2, for a good creamy background.
A lot of photographers seem to like shooting on a cloudy day, claiming the natural cover acts as a perfect light diffuser, preventing harsh shadows and brutal highlights from ruining their photos. I’d rather have some sun actually. I had a different experience last year on a very sunny day and I’m still trying to decide which set of photos “works” the best for me. I strongly recommend shooting in RAW format here, so that you can tweak both the color-temperature and white-balance point later on. Don’t bother with automatic WB mode like “Cloudy Day”. In post-processing there is always the opportunity to give your RAW file a “sunnier” look, by increasing the color temperature of the photo to give it a warmer feel. I didn’t abuse said slider, it goes only so far. Although I wish the sun had provided a better “punch” to the highlights, I don’t think the series is displeasing to look at technically speaking.