Zombies vs Survivors: Bellingham’s Gorefest


On Saturday, the city of Bellingham, Wash., was invaded by Zombies. The “Surviving” humans fought off the gory beasts with their sheer tenacity and water balloons. A lot of water balloons.

Getting in Character:

© Paul Conrad/The Bellingham Herald - Hayden Nupcharoen, 16, of Bellingham, gets into character before the start of the fifth annual Zombies vs. Survivors at Maritime Heritage Park on Saturday  May 31, 2014, in Bellingham, Wash. His dad Bill and little sister Ryle also played the part zombies.

© Paul Conrad/The Bellingham Herald – Hayden Nupcharoen, 16, of Bellingham, gets into character before the start of the fifth annual Zombies vs. Survivors at Maritime Heritage Park on Saturday May 31, 2014, in Bellingham, Wash. His dad Bill and little sister Rylie also played the part zombies.

The annual family fun event is sponsored by Black Drop Coffee House in downtown Bellingham. It was also a city event. As many as 200 people participated in the event.

The Chase:

© Paul Conrad/The Bellingham Herald - Brendan Lavotz, left, chases down a surviving human during the fifth annual Zombies vs. Survivors in Downtown Bellingham, Wash.,  on Saturday  May 31, 2014. Lavotz did not catch the survivor.

© Paul Conrad/The Bellingham Herald – Brendan Lavotz, left, chases down a surviving human during the fifth annual Zombies vs. Survivors in Downtown Bellingham, Wash., on Saturday May 31, 2014. Lavotz did not catch the survivor.

The rules were simple: “Survivors” race to various stores to earn a “Medical Pack.” They returned to the home base at Maritime Heritage Park where they turned in the pack. First team to collect all the packs and then make it to the “Helo Evac” site wins. The park was also the safe area.

Attack!!!

© Paul Conrad/The Bellingham Herald - Brain Drain team member Brendan Lavotz, right, of Bellingham jumps out of his hiding spot and attacks survivors during Zombies vs. Survivors in downtown Bellingham on Saturday  May 31, 2014, in Bellingham, Wash.

© Paul Conrad/The Bellingham Herald – Brain Drain team member Brendan Lavotz, right, of Bellingham jumps out of his hiding spot and attacks survivors during Zombies vs. Survivors in downtown Bellingham on Saturday May 31, 2014, in Bellingham, Wash.

The entire play area consisted of at least a dozen city blocks. The various aid stations were local businesses such as Film is Truth and Hair Art Studio. The goal was to go to the half dozen business to collect the medical packs, return to Maritime Heritage Park to have them checked off.

Waiting to Pounce:

© Paul Conrad/The Bellingham Herald - Rylie Nupcharoen, 12, of Bellingham, waits to attack survivors during the fifth annual Zombies vs. Survivors on downtown Bellingham on Saturday  May 31, 2014, in Bellingham, Wash.

© Paul Conrad/The Bellingham Herald – Rylie Nupcharoen, 12, of Bellingham, waits to attack survivors during the fifth annual Zombies vs. Survivors on downtown Bellingham on Saturday May 31, 2014, in Bellingham, Wash.

The first team to make it with all the med packs, has to make it to the “helicopter” at the evac center at Lee Memorial Park.

Touch-up:

© Paul Conrad/The Bellingham Herald - Monica Lawson, of Bellingham, gets turned into a zombie by make-up artist Stephanie Matteson during the fifth annual Zombies vs. Survivors at Maritime Heritage Park on Saturday  May 31, 2014, in Bellingham, Wash.

© Paul Conrad/The Bellingham Herald – Monica Lawson, of Bellingham, gets turned into a zombie by make-up artist Stephanie Matteson during the fifth annual Zombies vs. Survivors at Maritime Heritage Park on Saturday May 31, 2014, in Bellingham, Wash.

It was fun but the challenge was to get action shots of the “Zombies” attacking “survivors.” Because of the randomness of the action, I figured the best way was to stick with one or two zombie groups.

“Just a Little Splatter, Please:”

© Paul Conrad/The Bellingham Herald - Brain Drain team member Cass Murphy of, left, spatters blood onto her teammate Brendan Lavotz, both from Bellingham, as the two prepare for the fifth annual Zombies vs. Survivors V at Maritime Heritage Park on Saturday  May 31, 2014, in Bellingham, Wash. The two were part of the initial wave of attacking zombies.

© Paul Conrad/The Bellingham Herald – Brain Drain team member Cass Murphy of, left, spatters blood onto her teammate Brendan Lavotz, both from Bellingham, as the two prepare for the fifth annual Zombies vs. Survivors V at Maritime Heritage Park on Saturday May 31, 2014, in Bellingham, Wash. The two were part of the first wave of attacking zombies.

The game started at noon and ended at 3 with a huge water balloon fight. Unfortunately due to deadline, I missed the end.

Stay Away!!!

© Paul Conrad/The Bellingham Herald - "Survivor" Zane Rieksts, 13, of Bellingham, warns "Zombie" Bill Nupcharoen to stay back before pelting him with a water balloon during the fifth annual Zombies vs. Survivors in downtown Bellingham on Saturday  May 31, 2014, in Bellingham, Wash. Rieksts was caught and converted into a zombie.

© Paul Conrad/The Bellingham Herald – “Survivor” Zane Rieksts, 13, of Bellingham, warns “Zombie” Bill Nupcharoen to stay back before pelting him with a water balloon during the fifth annual Zombies vs. Survivors in downtown Bellingham on Saturday May 31, 2014, in Bellingham, Wash. Rieksts was caught and converted into a zombie.

Another big challenge I had to overcome was shooting with a D3. Not because of the camera itself, but because of the FX format of the sensor. Instead of my 17-35 being a 24-50mm equivalent, I had to get used  to the super wide of the 17. I found that if I placed my zoom at 24, I felt comfortable shooting.

Chasing Targets:

© Paul Conrad/The Bellingham Herald - Bill Nupcharoen, left, of Bellingham and his daughter Rylie, 12 in overalls, attack survivors during the  fifth annual Zombies vs. Survivors on downtown Bellingham on Saturday  May 31, 2014, in Bellingham, Wash.

© Paul Conrad/The Bellingham Herald – Bill Nupcharoen, left, of Bellingham and his daughter Rylie, 12 in overalls, attack survivors during the fifth annual Zombies vs. Survivors on downtown Bellingham on Saturday May 31, 2014, in Bellingham, Wash.

At first, I did try photographing at 17mm and found it too wide. But also, I felt I could get better control of my composition. I did this by getting as close as possible to make the subjects dominate in the foreground with the background a contribution to the theme. Also, by getting close and shooting at f/4 or 5/6, the depth of field was shallow enough to blur the background further enhancing the dominate subject.

New Zombies Line Up:

© Paul Conrad/The Bellingham Herald - Zane Rieksts, 13, of Bellingham, gets turned into a zombie by make-up artist Stephanie Matteson during the fifth annual Zombies vs. Survivors as others wait their turn at Maritime Heritage Park on Saturday  May 31, 2014, in Bellingham, Wash.

© Paul Conrad/The Bellingham Herald – Zane Rieksts, 13, of Bellingham, gets turned into a zombie by make-up artist Stephanie Matteson during the fifth annual Zombies vs. Survivors as others wait their turn at Maritime Heritage Park on Saturday May 31, 2014, in Bellingham, Wash.

For most of my exposures, I used the ol’ Sunny 16 rule. I pretty much stayed about at ISO 200 with my aperture at f/4 or 5.6 and shutter at 1/4000 or 1/2000. Very rarely did I stop down to f/8 or 11. I did not feel a need.

3 Amigos:

© Paul Conrad/The Bellingham Herald - Make-up artists Stephanie Matteson, lfet, with Scary Larry Productions spatters blood onto Jackie Kersten, Jaime Inslee, and Monica Lawson during the fifth annual Zombies vs. Survivors game at Maritime Heritage Park in Bellingham, Wash., on Saturday afternoon May 31, 2014.

© Paul Conrad/The Bellingham Herald – Make-up artist Stephanie Matteson, left, with Scary Larry Productions spatters blood onto friends (l to r) Jackie Kersten, Jaime Inslee, and Monica Lawson during the fifth annual Zombies vs. Survivors game at Maritime Heritage Park in Bellingham, Wash., on Saturday afternoon May 31, 2014.

Because I was shooting this for The Herald, it was necessary to get correct name spellings and identified everyone I possibly could. It’s not that hard really. Just ask their name and repeat the spelling back, look at an identifier such as color of hair or clothing. Plus, you mostly remember what the photo is about when you ask names.

Goliath vs David: 

© Paul Conrad/The Bellingham Herald - Frozen after being hit with a water balloon, Rylie Nupcharoen, left, watches as her father Bill Nupcharoen, attacks a little boy during the  fifth annual Zombies vs. Survivors on downtown Bellingham on Saturday  May 31, 2014, in Bellingham, Wash.

© Paul Conrad/The Bellingham Herald – Frozen after being hit with a water balloon, Rylie Nupcharoen, left, watches as her father Bill Nupcharoen, attacks a little boy during the fifth annual Zombies vs. Survivors on downtown Bellingham on Saturday May 31, 2014, in Bellingham, Wash.

Little tip: If you have a hard time spelling their name as it’s either complicated or they’re difficult to understand, write it down and show it to them. It makes your job so much easier when you’re editing and captioning the photos.

Thank you for stopping by to read and view my work. Feel free to comment, critique, or just ask questions.

Also, feel free to share and reblog, link to, and add your site in the comment section.

Paul “pablo” Conrad

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