The Graffiti Run - The Colorful 5K - The Most Colorful Day of your Life

Graffiti Run Camera Etiquette


Did you take awesome pictures of our colorful 5K with your camera/camera phone? Are you sad (or happy) to learn that your camera is now covered in color powder due to some trigger-happy Graffiti Squad volunteer or one of our powerful color cannons?

Finally, do you want to learn how to take even more awesome, professional pictures at The Graffiti Run?

A proud photographer working for The Graffiti Run can give you all the tips you need to know.

First off, you have to make sure that your gear is well protected from the inevitable onslaught of color that is bound to cover you and your awesome stuff at our 5K. This is important to remember because some color powder may get into some of the more hard-to-clean-out parts of your devices, such as headphone jacks, speakers, the gaps between buttons, and charging slots. Damage to those parts of your device may occur as a result!

If you are carrying an important item with you but don’t plan to use it during the run and party (such as car keys), we recommend Velcro or zipper pockets to seal out any color powder from getting inside. Alternatively, try covering your cameras and other stuff in a plastic bag so that no color gets in them. You should still be able to take some decent pictures with your phone or camera, but even through a clear bag, some images may look foggy.

If you don’t want to use a plastic bag on your camera but still want to take some great shots of color cannons, color-throws, or your best friend running down the course while still keeping your gear clean, check the wind! Our color powder, when airborne, can quickly and easily move with the direction of the wind, even if it’s a barely noticeable breeze. Try taking shots of a color zone or the Graffiti Party from an angle where the wind will be blowing color either away from you or to the side of you (but definitely NOT towards you). To check wind direction, see which way the powder’s blowing on average or check a weather report that can predict wind direction. To keep your devices a safe distance away from the color frenzy, you can use the zooming feature or a specialized zoom lens. Or, if you want to test your luck by shooting into the storm of color, you can try using a camera that is waterproof or weather-sealed so that you may clean it with water afterwards.

Now it’s time to get more serious. You know: ISO, aperture, shutter speed, all that kind of “professional” stuff.

The first thing you need to know in the world of photography is to delete half your pictures. If you want some good quality shots in a high-speed event like The Graffiti Run, you will need to take a high quantity of shots, and that unfortunately will have to include several bad ones. We strongly recommend you use your camera’s high continuous shooting/”burst” mode for shooting runners along with color-throws and color cannon shots at the Graffiti Party. This will increase your chances of getting good shots that are not blurred, in focus, perfectly timed, and well-composed.

When working with camera settings, there are two ways you can approach shooting pictures of runners. You can take a still shot of a runner with no motion blur, or you can try your effort at a shot with motion blur to convey a sense of speed. Set your camera to “Shutter Priority” mode to make either decision. Set the shutter speed to slow to take a blurred shot, or set it to a high speed (such as 1/250 of a second or quicker) to take a clearer shot.

When taking blurred shots of runners in motion, be sure to practice aiming your camera at a runner as carefully as possible while the camera is taking the shot. This will take several attempts to get it just right. Any mistake, and the whole shot will be covered in motion blur. Keep in mind that runners also move their arms and legs, to if you want to keep arms and legs relatively clear of if all your shots are too blurry, you will have to increase the shutter speed.

To help further increase the shutter speed, try manually setting a higher ISO (sensor sensitivity) setting. Bear in mind that your shots may look noisier and less colorful if the ISO is set too high, so find a good balance.

Runners will frequently look out of focus in some of your shots. That’s likely because some Graffiti Runners will be running towards or away from you at incredibly high speed – well after your camera has autofocused on the subject. Make sure in this case to shoot the subject as soon as the subject is autofocused to minimize runners running out of the focus zone.

Another potential solution to this issue is to increase the depth of field by increasing the camera’s F-Stop. This can be done in Aperture Priority Mode. This also allows a larger group of runners to become focused in one shot. Keep in mind that increasing the F-stop will reduce the amount of light coming into the lens, resulting in a shot with slightly more motion blur.

If you have a DSLR (Interchangeable Lens) camera, you are welcome to use any lens in your collection so long as you use them for the right purpose. Use telephoto lenses to capture runners at a distance, prime lenses to take portraits of participants, and wider-angle/fisheye lenses for both close-up shots and panoramic views of the crowd at the Graffiti Party. If you want to prevent powder from getting on the surface of your lens while shooting, consider using a lens filter. And if you’re changing your lenses, STAY AWAY FROM THE COLOR POWDER to prevent any of it from getting inside your camera and lenses!

Finally, if you want to become a pro photographer for The Graffiti Run, please feel free to volunteer!
You can volunteer for any event by clicking here:

If you want to see the photos that our official photographer took in Pittsburgh, check out the gallery on Facebook!