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12-01-2012, 03:15 PM   #1
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Last minute parade tips?

Hello all,

I want to take some photos of the Christmas parade tonight but I always seem to be fiddling with ISO and various settings and never seem to find the "sweet spot".

Am I better off shooting at ISO 3200 with a shutter speed of 1/80 and bringing up the exposure in post or shoot at ISO 6400 with a quicker shutter and dealing with the noise in post?

Here's a few photos from last year's parade. The vehicles move fairly quickly too so longer exposures are a bit of a trick. I should be closer to the vehicles this year as well.

Any tips on how to improve will be much appreciated.

Christmas Truck Light Parade - a set on Flickr

Kit WR lens (18-55) as it's a bit soggy today.


12-01-2012, 03:50 PM   #2
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Where there's no light, there's no "sweet spot", honestly, no matter what settings you've got. You simply need a faster lens.
With that kind of light, I think your best bet would be to bring a tripod, and get really creative with the resulting motion blur.
12-01-2012, 03:58 PM   #3
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ISO 3200 is already pretty high. A tripod and long exposure, maybe with some panning (remember to start panning before you start exposure and keep following even after its done). Whether you sacrifice iso or shutter depends on how steady your hands are But I think some more noise is better than shaked/blurry images.
Also, you don't have to use the auto exposure because the camera will try to make it "daylight bright" which will be impossible for moving subjects. You should probably dial in -2 or -3EV, or even try one of the auto SCN modes (There are a couple night-specific ones).
Beyond that, you can try using a flash (diffused, low power so it doesn't overpower the ornaments and blind people) or take photos of the parade as it passes a street light. You will have to take the first few shots to experiment and then commit to the thing you think is working best.
12-01-2012, 04:25 PM   #4
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At night, I've found that Sv mode is really handy for shooting lighted stuff and Tav mode can also be very helpful as well. Honestly, the more important thing about a parade is location, location, location. A good location will give you good shots.

12-01-2012, 05:09 PM   #5
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My thoughts are to try to shoot with stuff coming straight at you (rather than passing by you), and use a slightly longish lens. This minimizes the changes in frame during the exposure so you'll have less blur. And yes, do follow previous advice to reduce exposure time.
12-06-2012, 07:06 AM   #6
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I took shots at an outdoor night event last week, the Victorian Stroll in Saratoga, NY. It was a combination of concerts, parades, and various street performers. I shot in TAV with an ISO 12800 high setting. Even at 12800, the shots worked. A few under exposed and I brought them up some in Lightroom and converted them to B&W because the noise was pretty intense.
12-06-2012, 11:32 AM   #7
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Nice photos, thanks for sharing!

Due to the heavy rain we had the night of the parade, I had the 18-55WR lens on the camera instead of my 12-24. I didn't even take the 12-24 as I didn't know if I'd be standing near the car.

Turns out 10 minutes before the trucks came the skies cleared up and we were standing right by the car, so I should have taken the wider lens. The 18 was too long as the trucks were an arms length away so I didn't really get any good shots.

Next year!
12-06-2012, 04:38 PM   #8
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I just shot a lighted Christmas parade with a K-x & Tamron 18-200 lens at ISO 1600 & f8. I used a fill flash to illuminate the areas not lit by the lights on the float.

12-11-2012, 05:40 AM   #9
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I'm a bit late to the party on thsi thread, but I managed to shoot a firemen's parade (including trucks, etc) using the Sigma 70-300. I'd brought wider stuff bu the Sigma surprised me and worked well. The trick was a combination of not having anyone in front of me, having a lane empty between me and the oncoming parade, and not really shooting anything at a right angle. I tended to shoot at a 45, and used a healthy dose of going back and forth between 70mm and about 175mm or so.

If I had a choice, I'd use the 18-135mm or something with a shade longer reach if I were to try such a thing again.

I also shot a Christmas parade (at night) and thought I was being smart taking a 50mm f/1.7 prime. Huge mistake as I was too close to the action and seriously regretting not being able to zoom in and out. I think for parades at night high ISO and a good zoom range would probably be key.

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