Mention Seattle around the world and one of the first things that comes to mind is rain. Last weekend, on a day I had scheduled to photograph the Seattle Girls' Choir at Gasworks Park in Seattle…it poured. It wasn't even typical Seattle drizzle. It was a torrential down pour. These amazingly talented young women were great sports, tromping through unusually heavy Seattle rain and giant puddles in performance gowns and rain boots, huddling under umbrellas.
As Dad to an almost-4-year-old and an 8-month-old, I find myself frequently in the position of having to make the most of a situation that isn’t exactly what I had imagined with elements completely beyond my control. Parents of young kids can surely relate, it's all about survival. But on this day there was an unexpected gem waiting to be found amidst the dreary drizzle. On that soaking wet hill we didn't discuss dates to reschedule. Instead, we not only accepted, but embraced the day we had been given. And that made all the difference. We ended up with stunning shots that showcase the girls’ energy and spirit in a way that is uniquely them and uniquely Seattle.
Just as we trekked out into the park toward Lake Union, fog enveloped the skyline. The city was replaced with solid, fuzzy grey. To kill time as we hoped and prayed the fog would lift, we took some shots under the covered area.
Would we have loved a clear, sunny morning with vibrant colors and a gleaming Seattle skyline? Of course. And the plan was to use the rising morning sun to light the group from behind with a combination of off-camera wireless lights to provide soft and striking illumination from the front - a perfect recipe for dramatic and vibrant images. When we arrived at Gasworks, it became clear that my lighting gear would have to stay in the car - not only would my strobes light up the fat raindrops, creating backscatter in the photos, as a general rule rain and voltage don’t mix. Usually water and cameras don't mix either but weather sealing in cameras has been a top priority in our gear acquisition since 2001. This would prove a great opportunity to test the weather sealing in our newest camera Sony A7rii and Sony FE 55mm f1.8 Zeiss lens.
Everything was shot available light, carefully monitoring the exposure and utilizing bracketing, knowing I’d be bringing back some of the exposure in post. I also dragged the shutter giving the rain natural looking motion blur and avoiding distracting frozen spots in front of faces, a trick I learned growing up shooting weddings in Seattle. My gear was soaked completely, but performed admirably and remained easy to grip and change settings. We love the results as the 42 megapixel images are full of detail and excellent color. There was enough dynamic range in each shot that bracketed images weren't even needed.
At one point, I grabbed a quick video clip as the girls broke into song. The beautiful sound cut through the dreary, quiet day like a ray of sun through the cloud cover. It was really magical all around.
Thanks to the Seattle Girls' Choir and their Artistic Director, Jacob Winkler, for a beautiful day in the Seattle rain. I hope you'll join my family and me in supporting and enjoying this amazing Seattle talent at their upcoming December Carmina Angelorum concerts on December 13, 19 and 20. For more information, please visit www.seattlegirlschoir.org.