I shot this image inside the Renfrew Ravine in Vancouver, BC during the 11th annual Moon Festival. This is one of many installations that were set up in the ravine that night. The lanterns were hung from tree branches above our heads, reminding me of Christmas decorations. I really like how the dried leaves were incorporated into the lanterns themselves, giving them that autumn look.
I could not have gotten an image like this if I hadn’t shot in RAW mode. Having the extra 8 bits in bit depth that RAW provided meant that I could decrease the shadows with little damage to the overall quality of the image. In general, images shot in RAW look more detailed, feel alive rather than flat, and in general more capable of taking adjustments, especially when it comes to reducing highlights and shadows. Take away lesson: never shoot JPGs when you can shoot RAW, even in the day time.
Shooting in Bulb mode means you kind of have to experiment with how long you need to keep the shutter open for; luckily because the lanterns were static, I could take my time (unlike with fireworks). I could have probably shot this at ISO 320 and left the shutter open for half the time, but in some cases ISO 320 would have overexposed the lanterns; and although I could have reduced the highlights in post-production, it’s not an adjustment I want to make if I can help it.
Also, a really useful trick that my boyfriend taught me when it comes to manual focus: zoom in digitally on the camera’s LCD screen at a place in the image you want to be sharp and in focus, and turn the focus ring until you’ve achieved the focus that you want. Then zoom out, get out of live shooting mode, and be careful not to touch the ring. This way, you know exactly how your image will turn out. The image will be a little dark in the shadow areas, but that’s to be expected, and you can always increase those slightly in post-production.