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Celebration of Light – Night Photoshoot

Celebration of Light

Every year, Montreal has a winter festival called the High-Lights Festival and I had been looking forward to shooting it for the past few months. The two week festival just happened to fall in the middle of a planned family vacation. I would miss the main event but still be able to get out to an event called the Celebration of Light.

One of the attractions of this event was a large Ferris Wheel in Old Montreal. Since seeing a few examples, I had wanted to take a long exposure of one, and this seemed to be the chance. My plan was to get it right after sunset, right in the middle of Astronomical Twilight. Brad and I planned to go out around 4pm with the sunset being around 6pm. I wanted to get a look around before the sun went down and assumed there might be some interesting rides around the Ferris Wheel to shoot.

Before the meeting, I took a quick shot of Palais des congrès that I had lined up a few months back. I don’t know what it is about me, but I seem to pick the coldest days to go out and take pictures, and this was the coldest. It was probably about -35C with the windchill. We walked along the Old Port for a while before we had to go inside to warm up. We sat there until the sun had gone down, a little scared to go back outside. Once the coffee had warmed up our courage a little, we went back out and headed to the site.

To be honest, I was a bit disappointed with the limited size of the event. It being extremely cold and I found it hard to hunt for the cool shots. I concentrated on the Ferris Wheel and took a good majority of my shots of it. I got some pretty good images, but not all turned out the way I would like. One thing I noticed is that you really have to gauge your shutter speed. If you are too slow, it just becomes a blurry, white circle of light. Too fast and it becomes an uneven distribution of the lights. I was able to capture the perfect balance in the image above, with an exposure of about 5sec. I also got a great shot of the Ferris Wheel stopped, but the wind made it impossible to get an image that wasn’t blurry. I probably should have raised my ISO, but I found the Rebel T1i really doesn’t like high ISOs and tends to give pretty substantial noise.

Near the end of the night, I started using my 50mm f1.8 so I could at least open up the aperture and take faster pictures in the low light. I was able to take the Cold War Games photo (below) with it, and was surprised at how little noise I got at ISO 800. What this is telling me, is that I really have to create some technical tests. My plan next is to start pushing my equipment to different extremes and see what it does to the images. Plan to see that in the near future.

A Few Comments from the Shoot:

  • Shutter Speed will give totally different effects when getting the right Ferris Wheel picture.
  • Astronomical Twilight is a great time to take pictures. Great blues.
  • I really need to test the limits of all my equipment. Really mean it this time.

Images from the Shoot:

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