Photos and Video from Mardi Gras in New Orleans

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 Mardi Gras is well under weigh in New Orleans and I have had the pleasure and privilege to attend a number of parades while here.  My first this year was the Oshun parade.  I have been doing more video this year and am finding it interesting as well as a bit of a challenge.  In the following clip you will hear a silent portion followed by a woman over my shoulder asking me, “You aren’t recording this are you?”  In another portion there is a young fellow singing into my ear the music that is playing.  And, of course, I was being jostled by the chaperones that are keeping their charges safe, hit by drummers twice, and occasionally stepping onto stray beads while moving in for a better location.
After I shot the Oshun parade I went back to Metairie where I am staying but wasn’t able to get to it due to the Excaliber and Atlas parades.  I immediately parked and ran to the parade for more pics and video.  I haven’t the foggiest idea which portions of the video are from the Excaliber parade and which are from the Atlas parade as they have an interesting parade route that goes on a street that has a wide median where folks can sit or stand on the median and watch the parade as it passes by.  Later it comes back and passes on the other side so there are, in effect, two parades happening simultaneously on both sides of the median.  So when you are standing on the median you can flip back and forth on taking pictures and video of the parades which puts them entirely out of sequence.  It also puts the audience standing on the median in a crossfire postion with necklaces, toys, stuffed animals, candy, and other nifty stuff coming at you from all directions.
 The following day was the Pontchartrain parade during the day which is, without a doubt, easier to shoot, as the lighting isn’t such a major consideration.  There were a couple video segments in the video that were shot while moving and being jostled where I tried using the image stabilization software which, oddly enough, produces a stable image in the middle while the edges of the video are all over the place.  I was, as I have been, shooting free hand and on the move so some video ends up being a bit on the shakey side.
 In some of the parade video you will see that I was shooting from in front of a marching band, which means I was walking backwards and that is actually a common enough site that a parade photographer is known as a “Backstepper” for walking backwards in order to get that perfect shot.
  Doing video complicates matters far more as a still photo at a high speed won’t show that you were in the process of tripping over a pile of beads and that you fell on your butt in the process.  Since I am shooting both still photos and video it also complicate things as with video you can’t use flash to brighten up the situation so and have to locate the best light and shoot from there.  That pins you down to shooting from specific areas where you have decent light over your shoulder to lighten up the faces of the marchers.  Unfortunately, the lights often have been flickering off and on so that I might head to a well lit spot to shoot a performing group and by the time I get there the light has flickered off.  Last night I ended up walking about four blocks in order to find a spot where the light was sufficient for the shoot. 
One of my favorite marching groups is the drill team from The Citadel.  In the following clip I was about a block away when I saw they were about to perform so I zoomed in and shot while I scooted up to the action.  I remembered from last year that they are a pretty active group so I was not 100% certain on where they would be going and I really didn’t want to get run over by big military men with guns and bayonettes so I took an initial position  that I thought was far enough away that I wouldn’t get hit by a bayonette.  I didn’t like the framing of it and decided it was worth it to moved to a better position even though there was a soldier just to my right that I had to work around, not knowing if he was going to be moving or swinging his bayonette around. 
For more photos (over 3,000) from the various 2012 Mardi Gras Parades check out my Mardi Gras photo albums.  Oh, and if you like what you have seen, please follow me on Twitter and Facebook.

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