5 expert tips to photograph Vivid Sydney
Vivid Sydney is a bright and vibrant festival that every Sydney-sider, and, for that matter, every Australian should pencil into their calendar when planning their must-do activities for the year ahead. Amassing a collection of light installations, projections, live performances and bountiful food trucks, Vivid Sydney is a true spectacle for the senses. Although we have our memories to rely on, photography is a great way to capture some of the visual elements of the festival.
To ensure your Vivid Sydney photos pop, here are some tips to help you achieve the best results with low light photography at Vivid Sydney.
Keep shots blur-free with a tripod
As with most light-based spectacles, Vivid Sydney comes alive only when the sun goes down. Until then, you’ve got plenty of time to learn low light shooting techniques to ensure you don’t end up with an endless stream of disappointingly blurry images. The number one solution and the easiest option for Vivid Sydney photography is mounting your camera on a tripod.
Before you hurriedly skip to the next step, understand that camera tripods have come a long way in recent times and are far removed from the bulky and heavy offerings of yesteryear. Modern travel tripods are lightweight and portable enough to carry with you everywhere while still maintaining enough sturdiness to handle your brand new Mirrorless camera.
If you’re sticking to your smartphone for your Vivid Sydney photos, there are countless smartphone-compatible tripods that you can use to improve your mobile photography too.
Don’t have a tripod? Instead, find a sturdy place to position your camera and snap away. Being adaptable is an essential part of Vivid Sydney photography.
Use the right camera lens
If you have just purchased a new DSLR or Mirrorless kit, please be aware that the included stock lens may not be the best option for low light photography, let alone capturing Vivid Sydney photos.
To ensure you capture the most detail in the frame, we recommend using a wide-angle zoom lens for versatility. However, if there is room in your budget, find a lens with a faster maximum aperture/f-stop. This will give you the flexibility to experiment with the depth of field and exposure of your Vivid Sydney photography.
Have a go at shooting in manual mode
Cameras are essentially specialised computers for capturing images. While you can still capture some great Vivid Sydney photos with your camera set to auto, shooting in manual is always the preferred method for photography, even for beginners.
Shooting in Manual mode offers greater flexibility to photographers by allowing them to change various settings. While each camera comes with its unique controls, all digital cameras rely on three fundamental mechanisms when taking photos – ISO, Shutter Speed and Aperture.
These settings effectively control the amount of light captured by your camera, which in turn determines the quality of your image.
When it comes to shooting in manual, there is no such thing as “set and forget.” Outside of a photography studio, your environment is constantly changing, which requires you to make adjustments on the fly. Understanding this exposure triangle will better prepare you for low light photography at Vivid Sydney.
ISO: The ISO setting of your camera adjusts how sensitive the sensor is to light. While a higher ISO setting will allow you to shoot in darker conditions, it can result in grainer or noisy images. When shooting in low light without a flash, like at Vivid Sydney, start high and adjust as lighting conditions change. The best ISO for low light is around 800, though this depends significantly on the camera you are using.
Shutter speed: This refers to the length of time the shutter remains open. To capture fast-moving objects during Vivid Sydney, you will need a faster shutter speed, such as 1/125th of a second. If your shots are still coming out blurry, keep increasing the shutter speed. Slower shutter speeds, on the other hand, can be utilised for long exposure photography. Check out this guide to understand how you can take long-exposure photographs.
Aperture: The aperture setting of your lens or the f stop indicates how wide the lens can open, determining the amount of light it can capture. This impacts everything from exposure, focus and the depth of field of your image. While shooting in low light without flash, open the lens up to its widest setting to let in as much light as possible – this will also help you identify the best shutter speed for your shot.
If your camera offers the ability to shoot in RAW, we highly recommend it. Shooting in RAW allows your camera to capture uncompressed photos. This means the images are captured with the highest quality possible while also giving photographers far more flexibility during photo editing and post-production.
When editing a RAW file, you can adjust all of the necessary settings, including exposure, contrast, and white balance, without impacting image quality, which can often occur when making adjustments to a standard JPEG file. That being said, even the best low light camera can be let down by incorrect low light camera settings.
Don’t rush your shots
Throughout the Vivid Sydney Festival, there are sure to be countless must-see installations. To ensure you capture it all, remember to slow down, take a deep breath and consider your photographs a little deeper. Most of the light shows at Vivid Sydney happen on a loop, so if you don’t get the right shot the first time around, be patient. You will get another chance soon enough.
If you are waiting for the perfect shot, take the time to locate the best vantage points and angles to frame your photos. Eventually, the crowd will thin out as people move on to other attractions, giving you the chance to set up your tripod with a little more freedom and precision.
This advice has been brought to you by Ted’s Cameras.
Since opening the doors to their first camera store in Melbourne in 1970, Ted’s Cameras has grown to become one of the most beloved camera stores in Australia, bringing Australian photography lovers the latest and greatest photography gear from around the world.
Ted’s Cameras contact phone number is 1300768833.