Home How-To Shooting Photographing Festivals
Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Photographing Festivals

Tips For Capturing The Fun, Action And Excitement Of Special Events

festivalsImportant Camera Settings
Fast-paced action, moving subjects and unexpected maneuvers require point-and-shoot photography. No, I'm not suggesting that you put your camera on Auto and point and shoot, by any means. What I'm suggesting is that you know how to adjust your camera settings in an instant, maybe without even looking at the camera, so you can effectively point and shoot and not miss a shot. If you can't do that, you may want to practice on your living room couch until you can.

To stop fast-paced action, you'll need a shutter speed of at least 1⁄500 sec. You can keep that shutter speed constant if you choose shutter-priority mode. In that mode, even if the light level changes, the shutter speed remains the same and the ƒ-stop changes automatically to get a correct exposure.

Using high shutter speeds may mean using higher ISO settings if you don't have a fast (ƒ/2.8) lens or if you're shooting on an overcast day or in low light. I took all the pictures at the Mongolian festival with my ISO set at 400. If it had been bright and sunny, I would have set my ISO to 100 because I always choose the lowest possible ISO setting for the existing lighting conditions. By doing that, I get the cleanest possible image with the least amount of digital noise.

A high ISO setting lets you use a smaller aperture than a low ISO setting. The smaller aperture provides good depth of field, so you have a better chance of getting subjects in front of and behind the main subject (your focus point) in focus.

When it comes to the image quality setting, I recommend shooting RAW files. With a RAW file, you can recover up to a stop of an overexposed area.  With a JPEG file, overexposed highlights are much harder to recover, if not impossible. If you do shoot JPEGs, bracket your exposures to make sure you have at least one good exposure.

The focus mode you choose is also important. When photographing moving subjects, the AI Servo mode (Continuous Focus on some cameras) tracks a moving subject right up to the exact moment of exposure-helping to ensure a sharp shot. For stationary subjects, you can switch to the one-shot AF mode, which locks the focus on the subject and won't let you take a picture unless the subject is in focus.

For capturing action sequences, like capturing the peak of action during an event, set your camera on rapid frame advance and take several shots.


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