Thursday, March 20, 2014

GPP Dubai - Day 9


Day 9 was a sad day. It was the last day of the Joe McNally workshop. The last day of Gulf Photo Plus, the last day of Dubai for me. Whoever said "parting is such sweet sorrow" obviously never attended GPP.



Like I said, it was the last day of the Joe McNally workshop. The plan for the day was to go to a velodrome, or bicycle racing track, and shoot some cyclists. We were very excited and really looking forward to it. We all got on the bus and went off to our location. After about a 30 minute ride the bus comes to a stop at what seems to be the middle of nowhere. Sand as far as the eye could see with the Dubai skyline in the distance. Joe steps off the bus to investigate. Then walks off into the desert. After a few minutes, the bus leaves (without Joe) and we head off in the opposite direction we came from. Joe's wife Anne was on the bus, so I looked to her. She was helping one of the attendees with his camera settings. I figured, if she's not worried, I'm not gonna be. Maybe abandoning Joe in the middle of the desert is par for the course in their life.



So after about 20 minutes or so of confusion, we finally arrived at our location and Joe was there waiting. The location was not really what we expected. It was a very long track in the middle of the desert, not exactly a "velodrome", but hey. "Let's make the best of it", said Joe.

A quick demo of how to make a portrait in the current conditions and how to use a neutral density filter to our advantage, and we're off in our groups doing our own shots. Task number one is to make a portrait.


After the portraits, we moved on to some action. All the cyclists started looping around and passing by the group at hight speed for some panning shots. Joe set up a flash to freeze the riders as they went past. The sun was so bright, he had to go, in true Joe McNally fashion, to 6 flashes to get the right exposure (we were shooting at f22).


We had to take turns to use the flash setup, so while I was waiting my turn I practiced my panning...


A couple of times, I got lucky and caught the flash from someone else's shot!


After the panning, shots, we did a static setup and threw a bunch of water on the models. It was a demo on how to freeze the water and make a cool shot in the process. Joe demonstrated the process, then the participants took turns trying it out. I decided to sit this one out and just wait to try it when I got home.


Joe's assistant Cali, who was holding the bike still for the shots, found out this fellow assistant Jonathan has some coordination issues...


And just like that. It was over. We all got together for a group shot and..."hey, where's the bus driver?" (inside joke).

Photo by Fadi Kelada - used with permission

We returned to home base so we could all get the sand out of our hair (notice the wind in the group shot) and get ready for the GPP Shootout, an event so epic that it will get its own blog post.

Thanks to Joe, Anne, Cali, Jon, and Ali for making this the most memorable workshop ever! I learned a lot and made some good friends in the process - all over the world! That's GPP for you.