Tips & Tutorials

How to Get a Detailed Depiction of Both the Excitement and the Nightscape at a Festival

Festivals where large crowds of people gather at night are one of the occasions to look for unusual photo opportunities. Besides capturing shots of the nightscape, you might also want to include a detailed depiction of the people’s excitement in your photographic work. In the following, we will introduce some shooting tips by professional photographers to illustrate how this can be done. (Reported by: Shintaro Sato)

EOS 5D Mark III/ EF24-70mm f/2.8L II USM/ FL: 33mm/ Manual exposure (f/7.1, 1/5 sec.)/ ISO 800/ WB: Auto

The Sanja Festival, which is held at Asakusa in Tokyo, is one of the most famous festivals in Japan. On the night of the event, light rays on the ground co-appear in perfect harmony with the dim light of the sky at dusk when the second portable shrine passes by the area near the Kaminarimon (Thunder Gate) to enter the shrine grounds. Both the audience and the shrine bearers come together as one, creating an air of excitement that brings the event to a climax.

Step 1: Compose a shot with the distant Tokyo Skytree, the landmark of the city, positioned at the centre

Step 2: Select a shutter speed that does not cause the subject to turn out too blurry

Step 3: Observe the movement of the mikoshi (portable shrine) and press the shutter button at the best timing

 
 

Step 1: Compose a shot with the distant Tokyo Skytree, the landmark of the city, positioned at the centre

I took this shot of the Sanja Festival held at Asakusa in Tokyo from the rooftop of a building. I mounted the camera on a tripod to prevent the railings from obstructing the view, and stood on a step stool to carry out the shoot. I also mounted a special tripod head on the tripod to capture multiple images for photo stitching.

Here, I composed the shot with the distant Tokyo Skytree at the centre. Selecting a slow shutter speed may result in a blurry photo on a windy day, so I used an umbrella to protect the camera from the wind and waited for the mikoshi to appear.

The example here was created by merging multiple images, so I took shots of the surrounding locations before capturing the mikoshi at the best position. When taking photos for merging, make sure that the area captured in one shot overlaps with about one-third to half of that of the other.

Step 2: Select a shutter speed that does not cause the subject to turn out too blurry

I set the ISO speed to a slightly high value (ISO 800 in this example) and selected an f-number just large enough so that the entire image is in focus. I chose a shutter speed fast enough for the moving mikoshi and shrine bearers not turn out too blurry. The camera was located far away from the subject, so I could produce a shot that was sharp throughout by establishing focus on a distant object. Also, the blurriness of the photo varies with factors such as the speed of the moving subject and the distance from the camera to the subject, so I checked the image on the rear LCD monitor and adjusted the shutter speed accordingly.

Step 3: Observe the movement of the mikoshi (portable shrine) and press the shutter button at the best timing

Once the mikoshi moved to the best spot, I took several shots of it at this position. After photographing, I stitched them with the other images I captured in Step 1 using the PTGui software to produce the final work.

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Manfrotto WTVR Spherical Panoramic Pro Head 303SPH

I used a Husky tripod that can be adjusted to different heights and since it was set rather high, I stood on a two-step step stool for the shoot. The tripod head I used to capture the images for photo stitching was Manfrotto’s 303SPH, and I made use of a level to align the horizontality of the shots.

 
 
Shintaro Sato

 

Born in 1969 in Tokyo, Sato has been producing works that record changes that are constantly taking place in Tokyo. He is the winner of the Newcomer’s Award in 2009 under the Photographic Society of Japan Awards, as well as winner of the 2012 Hayashi Tadahiko Award. He has released three photo publications titled “Night Lights”, “Risen in the East” and “Tokyo Twilight Zone” (all by Seigensha Art Publishing).

 
Digital Camera Magazine

 

A monthly magazine that believes that enjoyment of photography will increase the more one learns about camera functions. It delivers news on the latest cameras and features and regularly introduces various photography techniques.

Published by Impress Corporation

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