Friday, 7 September 2012

Country Fair Photography tips

f/20  -  5 seconds  -  200 ISO  -  11-22mm wide angle lens shot at 11mm
Copyright Kevin A. Pepper

It’s really too bad that most photographers will go home once they see the sun set. But there are some of us that like to venture out like creatures of the night with camera and tripod in hand ready to capture the world after dark. One type of photography that captures the imagination the most is one tht presents itself once a year… the country fair.

Last night was one of those nights where a few of us went down to the Fall Fair to capture the midway and rides at night…

Night Photography Gear Checklist

Clothing that will keep you warm.
Sturdy tripod. A sturdy one is a must especially when it is very windy out there.
Wide-angle and telephoto lenses.
Friends. It ‘s always better to go with friends…
Hand held remote to eliminate camera shake
An open mind… letting the light trails tell a story is half the fun.

Necessary Settings In Your Camera

Set your camera in Manual Mode (M). Don’t get scared because you left the “Default camera setting zone”! Being in Manual Mode, we are able to control everything from Aperture, ISO level to Shutter Speed. Which by the way, are the three main factors we will be focusing on.
Aperture: Set your f-stop to about f16 to f22. This will ensure everything in your plane are in focused.
ISO: 100. The lower the better, this will ensure a noise-free picture especially during long exposures. However, bumping ISO up to 400 will make the colors pop more.
Shutter Speed: Depending on the shot… Most of my shots last night were between 6-10 seconds when it was dark to up 1 second when it was lighter.

Take The Picture, Wait, and Evaluate

So when you have all those settings properly programmed, it’s time to take that picture. Since we are using a small aperture (f16 to f22), focus anywhere from one third up from the bottom to the middle of your screen, using your remote press the shutter half-way to focus, and press it again. Then stand back and let the light trails tell a story.
If you have people walking by your shot, don’t worry about it too much. As long as they are out of your shot by the end of your exposure, they should be completely erased out of the picture.

Common Obstacles You Will Encounter

Under-exposure: Certain situations, 30 seconds is probably not enough to get the right exposure level on your picture. Try using a smaller aperture (F16-11) and maybe bump your ISO to 200 – 400. Some cameras have built in noise reduction to combat noise levels at long exposures, so make sure you turned that on.
Flaring: The longer your exposure, the more prone you are to flaring (as shown on the street lamps on the above image). So always keep that in mind. Keep your lens hood on at all times.
Wind: Some winds will definitely give your camera a good shake, even with your sturdy tripod. Try to block the wind  by moving to the direction where the wind is coming from. Use your buddy to block some of the wind, too! You did bring a buddy, right?
Weather: It might be hot during the daytime and can definitely fool anyone, especially living in Southern Ontario in the fall.