Starlight Walk 2017 – Update

Andy    October 1, 2017

As you’ll know Hitchin Camera Club has been working with the Garden House Hospice in Letchworth providing photographic services for their fund raising events in exchange for “Access All Areas” passes for some of our photographers. Their latest event, the Star Light Walk took place on the last day of September, starting at 9:00 PM from Letchworth Leisure centre and we’re proud to say we had 5 photographers covering the event including one of this season’s new members.

Night Photography Tutorial and practical
Night Street photography is a very unique discipline; requiring the photographer to not only be ready to approach strangers to take their picture, but also to manage the technical challenges of night photography including mixing flash and ambient lighting. For several of our photographers this was a completely new field, so to help everyone get up to speed Andy Hyde, organised a tutorial and practise session a few days before.

During the tutorial Andy gave 4 tips for success;

  • Increase your ISO
    The first tip was to set an ISO (film speed) faster than you might normally use, but not the highest value your camera supports. Since we’d be using a combination of ambient and flash Andy suggested ISO 1600 was a good place to start.
  • Shutter speed
    The next tip was to shoot in Shutter Priority (Tv) mode, and to set a shutter speed of 1/60th. we can rely on the flash to freeze the action, but with with this shutter speed a combination of a wide aperture and high ISO should be enough to capture some background lights without encountering camera shake.
  • Be prepared to focus manually
    Under low light your camera may struggle to get focus quickly, so be prepared focus manually, or pre-focus and wait for your subject to reach the right point.
  • Shoot wide angle
    The next tip was to shoot using at wide angle. This gives several advantages;

    • Shooting wide angle encourages you to get close to your subject, so your flash doesn’t have to work so hard.
    • Zoom lenses often have the widest apertures at the Wide angle end of the scale, making the best use of the light.
    • A shorter focal length allows a slower shutter speed, without getting camera shake
    • A shorter focal length gives a bigger depth of field making focusing less critical.

Everyone who attended the tutorial and practical really enjoyed themselves. We do have to give special thanks to John Smith who turned out to be a great model!

The Starlight Walk

On the evening itself Terry, Tony, Steve Gordon and Andy met up just outside the Letchworth leisure centre at 7:00 so we could arrive together and introduce ourselves. We were met by Sophie, who then passed us onto Astrid, who’s worked with us before.

Astrid gave us a briefing on the route, quick run down what was going to happen when and where, and then some images they hoped we’d be able to capture. Once we’d had our briefing we then organised ourselves into 2 teams. Steve, Gordon and Terry would Walk down Pixmore Way, with the intention of capturing a special entrant who was just walking part of the course, before moving onto the Broadway, whereas Tony and myself would head to the cross roads of Willian Way and the Baldock Road. We’d chosen these locations since the walkers would pass both locations twice.

As the entrants arrived we started to capture some scene setters, and started looking for interesting groups to do a mix of formal and candid portraits.

One of the most interesting group was a team of 23 unicorns from Pinehill Hospital, I jumped in and started to organise and pose the team while Tony did the honours as photographer.

About 8:30 PM there was a warm-up session outside with a disco. This gave some great opportunities for crowd shots as well as the chance to get into crowd itself and take some individual portraits. The warm-up quickly passed and at 9:00 PM the walk started. We all took shots of the walkers leaving en-mass before heading off to our respective locations.

Once in place it was just a matter of waiting for the walkers to arrive. Since Tony and I were covering a crossroads we decided that the best way for us to work was to be around the corner from each other, so that if I missed ’em, Tony would get ’em. The more practical benefit of this of course was that we didn’t get in each others way! Something that I found worked well for me was to position myself under a tree just beyond a street light. This had 2 benefits; firstly, I didn’t get wet and secondly the street light helped the auto-focus.

Once we’d seen the walkers go past for a second time we headed back to the Leisure centre to see the walkers arriving and getting their medals, before taking a few more shots inside as the walkers enjoyed a well deserved cup of tea and a snack.

If you’d like to learn more about about the Garden House Hospice you can visit their website here however, keep an eye out for Thursday’s Comet Newspaper where hopefully you’ll get to see some of our images.

For those of you who get the Comet, check out pages 18-19 where you’ll see photos from Andy, Steve and Gordon!

Andy’s Photos

Gordon’s Photos

Steve’s Photos

Terry’s Photos

Tony’s Photos