Photography by Jim Doty

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Thai Dancer
Asian Festival
Columbus, Ohio
May 24, 2003

a larger version
of this photo

My intention was to photograph butterflies at the Franklin Park Conservatory, but every available parking space on the grounds was taken. I was unaware that the annual Asian Festival was being held on the grounds that weekend.  Food and art  booths, crafts, and exhibits were everywhere.  It did not take long to decide between the Festival and the butterflies - the butterflies could wait for another day.

Festivals are one of the best places to take wonderful photos.  I wandered the grounds and took over 300 photos in the next two hours, nearly filling up my 1 GB digital memory card.

Wonderful sites and events and colors were everywhere.

After wandering through the crowds and taking candid shots of the people and events, I wandered over to where the exhibitions were taking place. My favorite photos were of the various groups that performed on stage.

When I wandered through the crowds, I used a 28-135 mm lens. For the performers on stage, I switched to my 100-400 mm lens to get closer to the individual performers.

For the photo at the top of this page, I set my Canon 10D camera to a digital film speed of ISO 400 to give me faster shutter speeds in the overcast light. The aperture was f8 and the shutter speed was 1/500 second.  The lens focal length was 320 mm, which is the equivalent field of view of a 512 mm lens on a 35 mm film camera.

The next time you go to a festival, take lots of film or a big memory card. If you are using film, use the slowest speed film that will allow you to use  adequate shutter speeds. The same applies for film speed choices with a digital camera.

Look for vivid colors and interesting action.  Portraits are OK (and I took some portraits back stage), but don't neglect action shots. Watch the backgrounds behind your subjects.  This was a major problem at the festival site due to chain link and poles in the background.  The photo above has one of the least objectionable backgrounds of the many photos I took. Even at that, I would have preferred a simpler background.

Take lots of photos. I ended up with several blurry photos, especially with the faster dances and the marshall arts groups. You don't want to take only one photo of a performer and discover later that it was motion-blurred, out of focus, or you caught an odd facial expression.

There are very few events that provide the same amount of photographic splendor as a festival. Grab your camera and head for one near you.

June 12, 2003

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