Need tips for photographing xmas in europe

Discussion in 'Photography' started by KD, Dec 10, 2004.

  1. KD

    KD Guest

    A few questions from a not-so-experienced photographer...Am off to europe in
    a couple of days and expecting dull and overcast conditions (spending most
    of my time in Ireland), and wondering what film would be best and if any
    filters will help..Also, haven't really any experience in night photography
    and will be heading to Prague and would love
    to capture some night shots of the christmas markets and christmas lights
    etc..BTW, my equipment is an eos300..any tips greatly appreciated,
    especially with the night photography..
    Thanks in advance
    KD, Dec 10, 2004
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  2. KD

    Gary Wright Guest

    First decision: negatives or transparencies? I shoot mostly slides, so I
    won't comment on print films except to say they are more forgiving if
    you don't nail the exposure, and they allow for color correction, which
    slide film does not; however, a 4x6 inch print cannot compete with a
    brilliant, well exposed slide projected on a 50 inch screen. I also find
    it a little easier to get good digital scans from my slides than from

    For the night shots, the short list of slide films should probably
    include Kodak Elite Chrome 400 or E200 or Fuji Provia 400F. All can be
    push processed (exposed at faster ISO camera settings like ISO 1600 or
    3200) - if you had more time, it would be better to test the results of
    push processing - perhaps others can advise about that. If you are using
    fast lenses (maximum aperture of 1.4-2.8) you are less likely to need
    the push processing than with a slow zoom.

    The Provia may be a little less grainy than the Kodaks, and may look a
    little better under mixed light sources (tungsten and mercury
    vapor/fluorescent), but all daylight slide films are going to have
    characteristic color shifts (too much yellow/red) unless you want to
    mess with color correction filters - which can significantly decrease
    your effective film speed. While not accurate, the over warm tones of
    daylight film are not displeasing to the eye. For more accurate color
    under tungsten light you might try Kodak Ektachrome 320T Professional
    Film - I've had no experience with that one - may not work at all if
    your night scene includes mercury vapor street lights or shop windows
    lit with fluorescents.

    As for exposure tips, I've had fair results starting with a straight
    exposure - whatever the meter reads, just like for daytime - but it's
    better to bracket liberally because lighted buildings and night street
    scenes can be tricky. All the black area makes your meter want to
    overexpose, and the bright, pinpoint light sources makes the meter want
    to underexpose; it's a happy coincidence when the two extremes balance
    out. If possible, try to meter from a surface which you want to be
    properly exposed that does not include any direct light source, or from
    a neutral gray card in the same light as your main subject.

    Hopefully you will be able to read your viewfinder in the dark - even if
    you are using auto exposure, you will need to know what shutter speed
    the camera is going to use so you will know if a tripod is needed. The
    rule is: don't try to handhold if the shutter speed is slower than 1
    over the focal length of your lens. That is, if you are zoomed out to
    the long end of your 28-135mm lens, use a shutter speed no slower than 1
    over 135, or 1/125th second; at 28mm, the limit would be 1/30th.

    A sturdy tripod is what you need for the night shots, mandatory if you
    have a slow zoom and go with ISO 200 film, but they are a real nuisance
    to carry around and set up. With faster film and lenses, I prefer to use
    improvised support - by bracing the camera tightly against a sign post
    or wedging myself against a wall I can hand hold down to about 1/8th of
    a second. I miss a few shots, and sometimes must compromise my
    composition when no helpful object exists in exactly the right spot, but
    I have more fun than when I try to get too serious with the tripod. If
    you are in Europe, there is more to life than photography, right?

    Does anyone know how well auto focus systems work in low light?

    Gary Wright, Dec 10, 2004
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  3. KD

    Angela Guest

    Is that a preconceived idea that Europe/Ireland will be dull when you are
    here or do you have superior knowledge?? At the moment it is a beautiful
    winters day with a lovely crisp sun and few clouds. Having spent a long
    time in Chicago I can tell you that there isn't much difference with the
    exception that Chicago is much colder!!
    Angela, Dec 11, 2004
  4. KD

    C J Campbell Guest

    1. Kill the flash.
    2. Bracket your exposures.
    3. Use a tripod.
    4. Shoot during the "blue hour," that hour when the lights are coming on but
    the sky appears light. Your best shots will be when the lights are exactly
    equal in brightness to the sky. To do this effectively means you will have
    to scout your locations during the day.
    5. Shoot from an elevated or otherwise unobstructed position, such as a

    If Ireland (or anywhere else) really is dull or overcast, then plan on
    shooting detail pictures. Use the soft light to advantage. Overcast days are
    really the best time to shoot fall foliage, snow scenes, shoppers and
    tourists in colorful clothing, flowers and trees, etc. They are death on
    landscapes, but everything else is really at its best on overcast days.
    C J Campbell, Dec 13, 2004
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