Deliberately Grotesque

How to capture excess?

One answer, use  highly saturated colors, lots of motion blur and flash freeze the subject. To show how it works and to see if it works for you just browse my images from the 2015 Gay Pride Parade in Chicago.  How best to capture this cocktail made from heat, sweat, fun, testosterone, vanity, joy, rhythm, and finally hangover? Well, I decided to combine a wide angle 24mm with ND filter to enable long exposure for motion blur and off camera flash to freeze the subject. The reasons for my choices were:

  1. The wide angle distorts
  2. Motion blur creates a wild out of control feel
  3. The flash freezes and isolates the subject
  4. A close up flash brings strong contrasts

With exposure time, f-stop and ISO set all images can be shot at an instant no further adjustments were needed. This is important when walking through a crowd moments come and go in an instant. A small camera makes it less invasive and allows for more candid shots.  In post processing I just worked the colors and the cropping not much more was needed.  The results are a chaotic color explosions with frozen subjects in harsh light.

None of the above is new but it is fun, so give it a try and add it to your tool bag.  Bruce Gilden is probably the best known proponent using flash in close ups.  Unlike his images which use flash to merely isolate the collection here deliberately uses long exposure and resulting motion blur to retain the background action. When it comes to combining motion blur and flash my inspiration is Boris de Flash . His ability to capture the grotesque and bizarre remains unsurpassed.

The young and the beautiful

Seasoned veterans


Stressed and Wasted

In the end the the mood of the event is beautifully captured in Schiller’s

Ode to Joy:

Joy, beautiful spark of divinity,
Daughter from Elysium,
We enter, drunk with fire,
Heavenly One, thy sanctuary!
Your magics join again
What custom strictly divided;*
All people become brothers,*
Where your gentle wing abides.

Who has succeeded in the great attempt,
To be a friend’s friend,
Whoever has won a lovely woman,
Add his to the jubilation!
Indeed, who calls at least one soul
Theirs upon this world!
And whoever never managed, shall steal himself
Weeping away from this union.

All creatures drink of joy
At nature’s breast.
Just and unjust
Alike taste of her gift;
She gave us kisses and the fruit of the vine,
A tried friend to the end.
[Even] the worm has been granted sensuality,
And the cherub stands before God!

Gladly, as His heavenly bodies fly
On their courses through the heavens,
Thus, brothers, you should run your race,
As a hero going to conquest.

You millions, I embrace you.
This kiss is for all the world!
Brothers, above the starry canopy
There must dwell a loving Father.
Do you fall in worship, you millions?
World, do you know your creator?
Seek him in the heavens;
Above the stars must He dwell.

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