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Old Nov 12, 2015, 12:25 AM   #1
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Default Christmas Light Displays

I wanted to start a thread so we could all share our tips on this subject. The questions is what settings and techniques do you use to capture large scale holiday light displays such as in botanical gardens, Christmas villages etc. The place I plan to go this weekend has a no tripod policy due to the number of people who walk the area on its paths and the fact that tripods restrict people from freely moving (blocking path) and number of complaints the got last year. Also 60% of the lights are static and 40% change color or patterns.

I shot this last year and the photo that were of static lights were generally good but the ones with movement were not tack sharp or exposure was not dead on. It seemed to meter just before a color change or such and was to dark or too brght etc. I generally shoot in RAW and full manual (AF focus of some sort). Any all info much appreciated.

Thanks in advance
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Old Nov 12, 2015, 1:11 AM   #2
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I avoid crowds, so haven't done any shooting under those conditions or restrictions, but if you can use a monopod, you might try that. Multiple exposure composites might be a way to go, and if your camera supports them directly, so much the better. I might also try exposure bracketing and combining for HDR, which would also get the changing lights in.
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Old Nov 12, 2015, 6:26 AM   #3
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My first choice would be a fast wide-angle lens that is sharp to the corners wide open, and is either stabilized or is on a stabilized camera. The fast lens lets you use slower shutter speeds, the stabilization lets you use even slower shutter speeds, and the lens that's sharp across the focal plane means the lights in the corners are just as sharp as the lights in the center.

My go-to platform is the unstabilized Tamron 17-50/2.8 (B016) on a stabilized Sony body.
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Old Nov 12, 2015, 9:05 AM   #4
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I use the Pentax K-3/K3ii combo (usually nly on camera body at a time). I have a Sigma 17-70 f/2.8-4 that is very sharp but the main issue last year was the variations in light/changing colors that through off the usually very good auto focus. I am guessing to use AF-C on the camera for changing light displays
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Old Nov 12, 2015, 12:41 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Photo 5 View Post
... I have a Sigma 17-70 f/2.8-4 that is very sharp but the main issue last year was the variations in light/changing colors that through off the usually very good auto focus. I am guessing to use AF-C on the camera for changing light displays
At 17mm and an aperture of f/2.8 on an APS-C body and a subject distance of 25 feet, everything from 10 feet to infinity will be in focus, so I wouldn't think focus would be much of a problem, unless the camera is hunting wildly. In that case, you could just switch to manual focus, set the focus distance to 25 feet, and shoot away.
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