Capturing carnival ambience

At dusk, the sun may have set but the sky still has traces of light. Since the window is extremely small, you have to shoot fast and bracket your exosures.

When I left off on my previos post on friendly faces at the carnival, I had mentioned ambience.

Once the sun sets, the carnival looks very different especially during that very brief window when the sun has set but there is still a lot of light left in the sky.

Objects in the vicinity of lights stand out while the rest of scene recedes and lose their prominence.

Colored lights start to stand out.

But to get those color saturated, you have to guess a little with your exposure.

With any digital camera where you can adjust shutter speeds manually, all you need is a tripod.

A cable release helps but you can always use the self timer.

The idea is to not shake the camera during long exposures.

Bracket Exposures for Success

I used my Manfrotto superclamp to mount my Canon 40D to a railing at the top of the giant slide. I knew a tripod would have been impractical in that tight space. 2 seconds f22 ISO 200.

Bracket your exposures by changing the shutter speeds instead of the aperture especially if you want to try your hand at HDR (High Dynamic Range).

Adobe Photoshop CS3 and later has HDR capabilities but it’s not very intuitive.

The software that most folks are familiar with is Photomatix. Download a free fully functional trial of Photomatix and give it a whirl.

It might also be worthwhile to try your graduated neutral density filter to control contrast if you have areas of the scene that are too bright.

By placing the darkest part of the filter over the bright parts like the sky and leaving the clear part over your darkest scene, you are controlling the contrast by “equalizing” the zone of brightness.

Equipment for twilight shooting

Leo Carillo kept still for this 1/2 sec exposure. I figured out my best shutter speed to get most colorful trail of lights in the ferris wheel then asked Leo to stay still. The Speedlight was having trouble giving me quick recycle times at f16. Mouse over the image to see me with Leo.

I used the following:

  • Canon 5D Mark 2 with 50mm lens, Nikon 135 f2 telephoto with Canon lens adaptor,
  • Canon 40D with 17-35 zoom
  • Manfrotto super clamp
  • Cybersync Radio slave with Canon 580EX speedlight
  • Manfrotto video tripod
  • Zacuto finder for video portion
  • Zoom H4 audio recorder

Even though I brought all this gear, I didn’t have to lug it around since I parked literally 3 feet from the carnival.

I made trips back to the car whenever I needed something.

I brought the super clamp because I was planning to get up to the highest point on one of the rides–a slide– to do an overall once the sun had set.

I knew beforehand that a tripod in tight quarters up top was not going to be welcome by the ride operator so the Manfrotto superclamp was godsend.

HDSLR video

A mindset most still photographers will have to adjust to is this: they’ll have to spend more time in front of their computer because unlike Stills, to get any meaningful amount of video, you have to shoot a lot of footage.

I’m not thrilled about the awkwardness of recording audio separately from video which requires more software and therefore more post production.

I’m adding a short clip of what the little video I shot that evening.

Zacuto Finder or for that matter some sort of magnifier with magnification and an eyecup is a must for HDSLR.

With my purchase of a DSLR with video capability, I’m feeling as if I’m a beginning swimmer who has just been pushed into the deep end.

I’m excited to have new toys.

Tell me which photographer wouldn’t be?

I’m finding out that the Canon 5D Mark 2 body by itself isn’t going to be enough to do an excellent job for shooting video.

Do you think my wife will buy that?

The truth is there is a whole long list of items (hardware) and software that I really need.

Peter Phun Photography

Promote Your Page Too