Photographing The Waterford Spraoi Parade 2018

Waterford Spraoi Parade 2018

I was asked by the Waterford Spraoi Festival to take some photos of the 2018 Spraoi Parade. This year the Spraoi Parade was entitled, Bugs, with all the floats having some sort of theme relating to creepy crawlies. Having reviewed the floats prior to the parade I knew the sequence of the parade. I also knew the parade route would create many lighting issues, since the parade was starting at 9:30 and darkness was already beginning to fall.

The Spraoi Parade ‘Bugs’

The parade started with an amazing butterfly accompanied by performers and a solo rapper. This was followed by the red ants, young and old, closely followed by a big stomping boot. The next float was a musical one, a brass band set on top a float which had a massive locust peeking over the top from time to time.

The activity became frantic with the next float as the bee hive and bee keepers were running around trying to find the missing bees, much to the amusement of the onlooking crowd. This particular float was very high energy and had quite a comedic result. I was trying to capture the interaction of the performers with the crowd which was 8 to 9 deep in some parts.

A preying mantis then followed, which was great to shoot while it was fully extended. This was closely followed by a musical section, passing by decorated as a lady bug.

One of the most impressive floats was The Moth. Suspended high up, the moth had translucent wings which made for a very spectacular shot. The next float was equally as impressive, the wasp with the many worker wasps buzzing and weaving around. One of the biggest challenges here was trying to avoid colour cast from the yellow street lights combined with the yellow and black of the wasp costumes.

Two of my favourite floats were the next two in the sequence. The Leaf nest and the Spider.  The Leaf Nest had a creature lurking in the centre of the nest. From time to time you would see a glimpse, all too fleeting, of the crazy stick haired creature. I aimed to capture this shadowy creature and also to get a shot of him peaking through the nest. There was also minions running around with the same plant like growths from the hands and head. After this came the immense Spider, a mechanical arachnid with moving legs and a team of dancing soldiers and burlesque dancers.

The final float in the parade was the Hive Drummers which featured many drummers from the well known drumming group Torran.

My Aims and Challenges

The main aim was to capture each float of the Spraoi Parade, the characters involved and also the interaction between the onlooking crowd and also the performers. The main issue I faced was how do you capture a momentary interaction or expression while shooting in the hours of darkness.

I was using a 430EX flash on the Canon 7D with the 24-105 L series lens and I also had a Canon 1100D with a wide angle lens set at f/2.8 and a high ISO, just in case I needed to take a different type shot within changing lenses. I also had the 75-300 telephoto lens which I changed to half way through and I found this to work very well even without flash.

My Shots of the Waterford Spraoi Parade 2018

A few of the resultant shots of the Spraoi Parade are below, this is only a tiny fraction of the photos I took on the night.

LadyBug Band - Spraoi Parade 2018
The Big Boot - Spraoi Parade 2018
Hive Drummers - Spraoi Parade 2018
The Moth - Spraoi Parade 2018
The Locust and Band - Spraoi Parade 2018
The Boot - Spraoi Parade 2018
Leaf Nest Creature - Spraoi Parade 2018
The Bee Keepers
The Butterfly - Spraoi Parade 2018
The Leaf Nest - Spraoi Parade 2018
Spider and Haka Warriors - Spraoi Parade 2018
Drummers - Spraoi Parade 2018
Spider and Haka Ladies - Spraoi Parade 2018
The Wasp - Spraoi Parade 2018