Eeyore’s Birthday Party is always a fun place for people photography. I once called it the Last Remnant of Hippie Austin. The event has been going on for some 50+ years but I’ve only visited the last three. I thought I posted something last year, but turns out I didn’t. When I compared this year’s photographs to 2 years ago, I noticed some interesting differences.
I’ve changed my style somewhat and while I’m currently on a saturated color kick, the main difference is due to the lenses’ focal length. Look at the photos from 2 years ago and you’ll notice portraits taken with a 90mm equivalent lens. There’s a formality to them, they’re more posed. The narrower angle of view concentrates attention directly on the single subject.
This year, you’ll see more candids and even my posed portraits are more laid back, I think. With the 35mm equivalent lens, I need to shoot differently. I’m up closer to my subjects but I still include more of the environment.
Over the last couple years, I’ve come to realize that I like the 28mm to 35mm focal length. I still shoot 40mm and 50mm at times but that’s not my preference. And though on my urban architecture photos, I go wider to 22mm, 35mm is the ideal half way point for me.
But of course, this means I need to get closer, to get into the action. With a 90mm, I can safely be at the periphery, peering in, without truly committing. This year, I had to get in the midst of the drum circle to get these shots.
I was particularly mesmerized by this woman in black. She danced like she was possessed by the god of free spirit. She moved rhythmically to the changing percussive beat. I shot first at 1/250 of a second to stop the action. Later, I experimented with 1/30 of a second to create motion blur.
Eeyores is now popular with photographers and many swarm the area with DSLRs in hand. Some come armed with two cameras with short and long zooms, strapped to elaborate holstering systems. I think that violates the spirit of this place. A single camera with a single lens is more in keeping. Extra points if you use a small camera with a diminutive prime lens.
Why one lens? This is not a sporting event. It’s more about getting into the spirit of the place and becoming one with the crowd. A small camera up close seems like it just fits. I still have a ways to go. I still go dressed in civilian clothing. I’ve never been a costume person for any event, so it’s going to take a leap for me to truly fit in.
But I like to think, in my own rigid way, I’m making progress. I feel that this year’s images are more relaxed and better captures the mood. A little slice of hippie Austin from a few months back, when the weather was still cool and the grass was still green. I’m trying to stay cool as the summer heat is finally starting to kick in this year.
Stay cool my friends.
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