The season is just around the corner. Warm weather and more daylight is a guarantee people will be out of their homes and into the streets. It’s Festival season, around the world and you can capture the faces, atmosphere and brilliant-colored costumes like a pro, with a few simple tips.
Zoom and Pan
Ideally, a tripod with a ball head or a monopod is preferred for steadying your shots but, often they are impractical. On a bright summer day you can get shutter speeds of 250 or higher. Zoom-in on your subject to eliminate any blown out highlights and smoothly, steadily move the camera to match the speed of your subject. Continuous Auto Focus and the Burst Mode on your camera should assure you some sharp photos.
Stage Performances at Night
Getting up close, off to one side is almost essential, if you want to avoid glaring stage lights. Here a tripod and higher ISOs are called for and a cable release or remote would be wise. Study the rhythm and movements of the artist while composing your shots. They are the keys to catching the best still shots, if you’re not deliberately trying to capture motion blur.
Street Scenes, Get Up High
Unless you enjoy post process editing and cropping, eliminate distractions, such as telephone wires by getting in positions where you can crop in-camera by zooming to eliminate them from the photo frame. Overhead crosswalks, bridges, balconies, stairwells, even some vehicles may provide you the elevation you need to compose a great shot. Just make sure you have permission before you climb on someone’s private property and above all don’t risk having yourself and camera come tumbling down trying to shoot a masterpiece.
In Close, Among the Crowd
A great way to get close to the action, yet, slightly above the mass of humanity popping-up and driving both your light meter and Auto Focus wild is to carry a small, two-step ladder. After determining which side of the street you’ll have the best lighting conditions to shoot from, find a spot where you can put your back to a telephone pole or wall. Set up the ladder, fold your tripod to use it as a monopod and adjust your position until you’re certain you are comfortable and secure enough not to loose balance should some reveler bump into the contraption. Unless you’ve traveled to a land where the people are 7-8 feet tall, you’ll have no problem with anyone obstructing the view and be able to shoot some fantastic close up shots.
Getting Down Low
When you’re not in danger of being trampled by a crowd and there’s a pretty blue sky, forget the tripod. Get down low where you can compose a shot with the sky as your background. Sit down and cross your legs, resting your elbows on your knees (or wherever they’ll reach to on your legs) and adjust your position until you’re steady. Now, you are the tripod.
Michael Lynch is an outdoors photographer and writer living on the island of Okinawa, Japan.
Published in several online magazines, he writes the weekly Camera Talk blog at In The Know Traveler.