Friday, May 8, 2015

Night Magic

Chinese dragon lantern at night
Chinese Dragon, copyright 2015, Stephanie Maatta Smith
A week or so ago I went on my first intentional nighttime photo shoot. Our local zoo has a gorgeous exhibit called Zoominations, A Chinese Lantern Festival. The lanterns are beautiful in the daylight, but stunning after dark. The display will be at the zoo through the end of May. Perhaps we'll get back there again before it leaves.

Due to the number of guests in the zoo and the set up of the lanterns and lighted displays, it wasn't possible to use a tripod. In order to have a fast shutter speed for handheld shooting, I had to crank up the ISO; luckily there was sufficient ambient light to help compensate. I also used a 50mm with a wide f-stop for many of my images. Most of the images were made at f/5.6 and 1600 to 2000 ISO. Some of the images are a bit grainy, but it was a willing sacrifice to capture the vivid colors against the darkening sky.

archway of Chinese lanterns
Apsaras, copyright 2015, Stephanie Maatta Smith
The Apsaras was an ancient fairy in Taoism and Buddhism thought to bring peace and happiness to the world. These formed an arch along the walkway with glittering stars shining above.

A section of the river was decorated with koi and lotus flowers with some of the flowers holding giant pearls. Koi appeared to leap from the river, with water shimmering around them. This was one of my favorite areas of the exhibit.

Peacock, Chinese lanterns
Peacocks Aglow, copyright 2015, Stephanie Maatta Smith
Brilliant peacocks also lit up the night with flashing colors and movement. They were placed in one of the darker corners of the zoo to enhance the magic of the colors. Trees surrounding the area had LED icicles twinkling, almost as if they were raining stars.

Chinese lanterns in shapes of koi and lotus flowers
Koi Pond, copyright 2015, Stephanie Maatta Smith

Lessons learned were patience to set up the image, balance shutter speed and ISO to catch both good exposure in low light and movement of the displays, and isolate the subject carefully because so much color, shape and lines were happening among the lanterns.

No comments:

Post a Comment