Ninth Annual Street Painting Festival–Old Town Temecula

Saturday morning I packed up the family, made them accompany me to Old Town Temecula for this Street Painting Festival.

This was the 9th year for this festival.

A short portion of the asphalt of Fifth Street became the giant canvas where about 60 artists labored under the Sun.

handsTemperatures were in the low 90s by the time we got there.

The artists arrived at 8 am.

Most didn’t plan to finish the same day.

Rafael of Riverside planned to finish the next day about 12 hours of work.

His piece showing a Mexican peasant woman carrying a large earthenware jug caught my eye because of his choice of colors.

The few minutes I spent with him, I met his 2 young sons.

They were polite, well-behaved and ever so patient sitting in the shade as their dad slowly and carefully blended his pastel colors.

It takes quite a bit for young boys to sit still especially without Gameboys or Nintendo DS’s.

It’s a shame I didn’t get a chance to return today to see the finished work and to see the judging.

As I expected, I saw quite a few photographers at this event.

I saw at least one person who looked like he worked at a newspaper. How can I tell? Oh… tell-tale fanny pack, 2 camera bodies, credentials dangling around his neck.

Glad to see the local papers gave this event some ink.


Ceceilia was lit by my Canon Speedlite 580EX @ 1/4 power off-camera on the right zoom set at 105mm setting. Exposure was ISO 100 1/250@ f11. The shadow you see on the painting is from the black umbrella she had set up for shade.

Watching Ceceilia Linayao of San Diego as she blended the orange, brown, red for a mesmerizing feminine face with huge eyes was intriguing.

Working under intense sunlight, squinting and trying to match and blend is tough under room conditions. This must have been even tougher when you use the shade of the umbrella and part of your artwork is in the direct sun.

The eyes complete with catchlights seemed to follow the viewer from any angle.

I learned Ceceilia also teaches art. No wonder she worked so quickly.

When I arrived,  a lot of the artwork wasn’t taking shape yet, so there was only that much I could shoot.

A couple hours later around 11 am, the sun was overhead.

Umbrellas and blue canopies lined the short street to provide shade for the artists.

Dealing with Contrast & Backgrounds

Relief from the heat and even lighting for the artists to work meant a challenge of contrast and cluttered backgrounds for me.

Fortunately I had my Canon Speedlite and radio slave.

If you remember my earlier post What’s In Your Background? and suggestion #7, you can deal with this.

I intentionally underexposed the scene when I photographed Ceceilia because I wanted her painting to really pop against the blacktop.

Finding a camera angle to shoot without the clutter in the background was a whole different matter.

It meant I had to shoot downwards on her with my 17-35mm zoom lens.

Here’s Ceceilia’s finished work. Beautiful, isn’t it?

12 thoughts on “Ninth Annual Street Painting Festival–Old Town Temecula”

  1. So sorry Nuke that I didn’t include your drawing. It wasn’t intentional. Maybe next time? Just stay in touch and remind me next year when you see me.

  2. Anthony,
    Sorry about the password protected post from yesterday. I hope I’ve made amends with the post of Rules of Photography. Anyway, I hope you’re having a good stay in Temecula.

  3. all the way from PA I was flown out by my company to redesign the friday’s restaurant in Temecula!!

    Anyhow, Pete, when I get your emails, it asks for my account password.

    i.e. Should your photography remain a hobby. I don’t have a password.
    I am confused.

  4. Hello Darek,
    If you’re hoping to catch a look at these street paintings they’re probably faded by now. That’s the nature of this kind of art. But Old Town Temecula is a neat place. Thanks for reading the blog and leaving your comment.

    View Larger Map

  5. Devang,
    I don’t know if you realize it, I was using my $400+ speedlite as if it were a Vivitar 285 on manual. Your flash also has a zoom head which you can pull out to narrow its beam to 85mm. It’s been a while since I used one but it can do what my Speedlite does at a fraction of the cost!

    Thanks for posting your question here in comments so that others might find this useful as well.

  6. Peter,
    Thanks for the picture without the flash. Wow…now it all makes sense. It was almost like the artist’s umbrella gobo’d the sun. Interesting point to keep in mind.

    I am a hobbyist on a budget so my Vivitar 285 is all I can afford now (manual mode, of course).

    Thanks again for the detailed reply.

  7. Melissa,
    Thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment. I know exactly where Eric shot the picture from. In the middle of 5th Street was tall building which was market. He was up on the balcony. I would have done so too. I’m short and always looking to shoot down on things, so I always notice those things.

    I didn’t try that vantage point since none of the artist near the building had done much while I was there. You’re right about the pictures that ran in the newspaper. Eric had the better pictures with the cleaner background from overhead.

  8. I love that shot of Cecelia. You did a fabulous job!
    Your flash not only made Cecelia pop, but it cut down the harsh shadow of that umbrella. The sun was shining so bright that my feet were burning when I left!

    Thanks for the link to that comparison photo. I knew she was in the shadow but had no idea how dark it was in the shadow without your flash.

    I really need to dig out my Speedlite and learn how to use it. I have the manual, but haven’t taken the time to figure out the settings.

    Oh, and I checked out the newspaper links. I like Eric’s “from way above” shot. Think he stood on a ladder? No way he could hold the camera that high, could he? BTW … It was sheer luck that he happened to shoot the family the reporter mentioned in her story. 🙂

  9. Devang,
    I’m glad you took a look at the pictures from the newspaper photographers I linked to on my post. I felt it important that everyone gets to see the scene and the challenges.

    When the sun is out and as you described in full force, it merely means your flash needs to be very close to your subject and fired on manual, off-camera and aimed carefully. In the old days of analog, you didn’t have the luxury of instant feedback and histograms. These days, you can see instantly if you’ve exposed correctly or aimed precisely.

    Available light of the scene was metered to be ISO 100 1/250 f8 or maybe even between f8 and f11. It’s close to that anyway. Here’s a picture for you to see the scene before I added flash.
    Here’s a picture of the scene before any flash application with metadata info

    My camera was set 1/250 sec at f11. I intentionally underexposed to saturate the colors on the painting and I made sure the zoom setting on my Speedlite was set at 105mm. Depending on your particular flash unit, you may or may not be able to do so. Also, you need a flash which you can control manually its output. Automatic is too iffy especially in a scene where my subject was wearing black, the background is fresh asphalt.

    I figured out the distance and flash output to be f11 when I set the power to 1/4. That comes from experience of course. But you will find this gets easier with practice.

    Setting the flash to 105 mm does 2 things:

    1. narrows the beam of light so it doesn’t spill all over and is wasted
    2. actually puts out more light so I can overpower though, not completely, the ambient light

    The sun is not filling in this instance since Ceceilia, my subject, is underneath a black umbrella. My flash is the main light. Her painting is totally lit by sunlight except for the portion under the umbrella.

    Thanks for posting your question so that others can benefit from my answer.

  10. Peter,
    Thanks for the follow up.
    I saw the newspaper pictures for comparison and I do understand how the quality of lighting affects contrast.

    My specific question is regarding shooting during the day time, when the sun was probably out in full force and you were using a flash, did you use ambient as your key light (for the painting) and flash as shadow filler for the artiste? How did you nail the flash power setting?

    Sorry if this is basic stuff and probably been covered before.

    Once again thanks for the great work on your blog.


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