I gave Chinese New Year another go this year.
But this time I went with a group led by renowned photographer Joe DiMaggio. Not only was I walking around with like-minded folks, rather than my family, but a seasoned and amazing professional was on hand for advice and how-to’s. The photos aren’t brilliant, but they are a huge step forward in being able to see the creative and artistic side of things, of taking the moment to compose and focus (still working on that), and making the best out of challenging situations.
One thing that helped quite a bit was a polarizing filter. The sun was quite bright in the middle of the day, the predicted partly cloudy day giving way to a cloudless sky. It made for warmer temperatures and a comfortable day to walk around, but harsh, contrasty light. The filter really helped cut some of the glare down, particularly when photographing a shiny golden dragon.
I found myself at various times either trying to focus on confetti or trying to focus on a subject and being confounded by the confetti. The first key thing was remembering that I could manually focus. Yes, I did not have to rely on the machine in my hand – I had control! The second was not having to switch focus modes – either through the camera interface or even simply flipping the switch on the lens. As soon as I started using the focus ring, the camera honored that and did not attempt to autofocus. As for the other soft shots (see the full set on Flickr), I should probably use the manual focus more often!
I also think I’m ready to try working with a flash. There were a few times during the day when I recognized situations that called for fill flash because of the deep shadows caused by the very bright sunlight. Ah, more money to spend.