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Old Dec 11, 2006, 10:40 PM   #1
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I have a Kodak P850 and will be going to the Fort Lauderdale boatparade. The boats will be decorated with blinking and non blinking Christmas lights and will be held after dark. I know that ideally I need a DSLR but since I don't own one, any help I can get as to settings, etc would be greatly appreciated. I do not have a tripod either which is probably the first time I will really wish I had one. I plan to brace it the best I can and rely on the IS to help me. Any tips as to settings, etc would be greatly appreciated. Thanks.

Bob
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Old Dec 12, 2006, 4:09 AM   #2
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If the boats move quickly you're going to struggle to get sharp pictures of them. A 'boat parade' doens't sound too frenetic though.
Start at the widest aperture you have (and in aperture priority) and the highest iso. Check your pics in the review window and see if there is no blurring (you'll have to zoom in all the way to tell - don't know if your camera can do this but most can). If you have no motion blur then lower the iso and repeat. Leaving a little margin, shoot at the lowest iso you can. You might want to force your camera to underexpose a little too as you can bring out the dark areas a bit afterwards and this will give you faster shutter speeds and so less blurring.
Most important thing though is to take lots of shots, try a few different settings and have fun!
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Old Dec 12, 2006, 11:05 AM   #3
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You can't count on stabilization to get a handheld shot measured in seconds rather than fractions of seconds. I've tried various methods with my FZ and this year I'm putting the tripod in the yard before people start showing up for my annual boat parade party. It's pretty hard to remember to dig the thing out and set it up with eighty people to feed and no wife. I will also have the camera set up so I only have to vary the shutter speed.

What I have learned from resting the camera on a pole is that I can get a decent exposure without excessive motion blur when the boats are coming pretty much toward or away from me. The guy who leads the parade is a neighbor and knows I have a big party every year. So he brings the parade toward my house and hangs a right to lead the parade just a few feet beyond my dock.

Unfortunately the boats are decorated to look best from the side, and there is a lot of relative motion when they pass. Panning hand held doesn't work very well. My best shot is probably coming and going when they are at a pretty good angle, but I haven't been really successful so far. It isn't bad at a relatively wide focal length with multiple boats at a pretty good angle. It is darn near impossible to get a single boat directly from the side without excessive motion blur.

Motion blur in the direction of the boat movement can look OK if it isn't excessive. But any motion from hand movement just looks tacky. This year I will shoot from the tripod with high ISO and under-expose with higher shutter speeds. Then try to bring the shots up in Photoshop and use noise reduction.

All I have learned so far is that it is hard to get decent boat parade shots without a DSLR and lens with good aperture. Last year it rained all day with strong winds and only about a dozen boats showed up. We usually get up to 40 nicely decorated boats. That gives me a lot of tries if it doesn't rain again. Maybe I'll get something this year worth sharing.

If you can find a place where the boats are approaching within about 45 degrees and rest the camera on something solid. Try ISO 400 and vary your exposures from 1 to 4 seconds. Manual exposure with the lens open all the way of course. Abeam with only one boat in the frame is really tough with small sensor cameras.

I should probably drag out my film SLR. I have some decent lenses. But getting the shots developed and running them through my film scanner seems like taking a horse and buggy to a NASCAR race anymore. I've avoided DSLR so far because it has been so refreshing to not have to carry a bag of junk to have good versatility. But there are times when a DSLR would be much better than a small sensor prosumer camera.

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Old Dec 13, 2006, 10:10 PM   #4
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Thanks Jacks and Slipe. Based on what you guys have told me, I plan to put it on aperture priority at f2.8 and asa 400 and let the camera choose the shutter speed. I plan on borrowing a tripod afterall so hopefully some of my shots will come out ok. Thanks again guys.
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Old Dec 13, 2006, 11:05 PM   #5
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If you use aperture priority take some with varied EV. I prefer to use manual and alter the shutter after looking at the review in the LCD. EV shift will accomplish the same thing but you probably have less range.

I plan to start out with ISO400, f2.8 and one second. I'll set my self timer for 2 seconds and use that since I don't have any way to trip the shutter other than the shutter release.




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