Chinese Lantern Festival in St Louis (11 photos)

Started Jul 24, 2012 | Discussions thread
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Tim A2
Senior MemberPosts: 1,099
Chinese Lantern Festival in St Louis (11 photos)
Jul 24, 2012

We got a break in our record setting heatwave, so my wife and I paid a nighttime visit to the Chinese Lantern Festival at the Missouri Botanical Garden in St Louis. Turns out a whole lot of other folks had the same idea. I used my 15 mm, f4 lens to get in front of the crowd, probably annoying all the photographers in back with their long lenses. Actually all the photographers were almost fraternal.

I have used Pentax DSLR's for several years, but consider myself only a step up from beginner status. I would appreciate any advise. This was a good learning experience for me in nighttime photography.

I was surprised by how difficult it was to get a good exposure. That was probably from the extreme lighting and certainly from my own stupidity. I believe the camera did what it was supposed to do. I had my Kr set on multi-segment metering instead of the intended center-weighted and had AE linked to AF point (I don't know if that is good or bad). AF point was spot. The ratio of darkness to bright lights varied from one display to the next. The histogram, which I rely on was nearly useless. Apparently the amount of dark dominated and rendered a mostly flat line. I would appreciate any advice as to how to deal with this situation. I know I should have shot in RAW, but I have not yet selected a RAW converter program.

Another problem was focus, which was not as good as I got from the same camera and lens on our daytime visit. Two points come to mind. One, the camera was on a tripod at night and was handheld during the daytime. When the camera was handheld, I would AF and recompose. With the tripod I would compose and then make sure my single spot focus was pointed at something I thought was acceptable. Keep in mind I was dealing with a very large crowd and didn't have as much time as was required to do everything properly. I am guessing I should have used selected focus points. I suspect I also made a big mistake by not always using a smaller aperture to get max DOF. The second point concerns the lighting. Was the lighting inside the silk and the external lights tungsten and if so would it have affected the autofocus of my Kr, which I know has the well know tungsten light issue.

My granddaughter (high school junior) will be going to the festival with my K10. The only lens she has less than 28 mm is the 18-55 mm kit lens. Would that work for her, or should I loan her the 15 mm, or 18-135 mm? She is new to DSLR photography, but has access to a good tripod. Any advice for a raw beginner? She did recently sell one of her P&S photos for $100.


This display is made from recycled small serum vials

The dragon is one of a symmetrical pair that are made entirely from porcelain dishes. The heads were animated.

The dragons were animated.

Lights were on, but this was 20 min before sunset

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