DIY Night Time Photography

I do really like the nighttime, both in the city and also at my cottage. From living in the constant movement to going occasionally to a more remote and peaceful area, it is a fortunate escape into a different environment. Apart from the mosquitos constantly attacking any bare skin on my body, watching the sun set beside a campfire is the perfect activity during summer. For very special occasions, there are usually fireworks or sparklers lighting up the blackened skies after the sun’s light has gone. The only problem is… How do you capture this moment?

Trying to take pictures of fireworks can really be a frustrating experience. By not knowing which settings to use, you can end up with a lot of pictures of blurry lights. I don’t think anyone wants blurry fireworks or sparklers in their photo libraries right? Here are some tips on how to take stunning shots of fireworks and sparklers so you can truly capture the moment:

1. Invest in a tripod that is a decent make and a sturdy model (this will make a big difference). Absolute stillness is required for the slower shutter speeds you’ll need in these conditions.

2. NO FLASH! Just switch it off! Believe me, I left the flash on and the shot I took looked like light crap. Switching to the manual settings on your camera will cover this and give you more control.

3. CHARGE YOUR CAMERA PRIOR TO SHOOTING! The long exposures can drain your camera’s battery more quickly so charge it up.

4. Lower your ISO speed. This will prevent your images from getting somewhat grainy. You can also turn on your camera’s Noise Reduction setting, if you have one.

5. Turn on your camera’s fireworks setting. Many of the recent camera models have a scene mode specifically for shooting fireworks.

6. Use long shutter speeds around 2-3 seconds or even longer. This is the most important camera setting you need to worry about. With a fast shutter speed, your camera will not be able to pick up the illuminated paths of light the fireworks make in the sky. So give your camera a chance to record those streaks with a longer shutter speed. I recommend experimenting different durations to see what you prefer and what ultimately looks the best.

7. Take lots of pictures! You can always delete the duds later.

Remember, taking photographs with your camera is a fun activity and a great opportunity to experiment new settings and features. Have fun!

Works of Picasso

Pablo Picasso

Les Demoiselles d’Avignon

The summer of 2007, my family and I took a vacation to Paris for two weeks. Before leaving, I didn’t really know what to expect, except for many tours of tourist attractions and museums. During the trip, the weather did not cooperate with rain and cold temperatures each day, but my expectations on the museums were met.I went to Musee du Louvre, Musee de l’Orangerie, Musee d’Orsay, Musee du Luxembourg, and finally Musee Picasso (the most interesting one).

While we were at Musee Picasso, I kept hearing my mom say, “This is something a 5 year-old would make. Why is Picasso so famous?” Apart from the fact that it got very annoying to hear her say this every couple of minutes, she did have me thinking about Picasso as an artist. How did he become famous? Why is there a museum dedicated to his so-called masterpieces? After this year, I learned more about Picasso through my art history seminars and finally understood the secret to his success.

Pablo Picasso was a Spanish artist during the 20th century. Interestingly, he demonstrated extraordinary artistic talent in his early years and a passion for drawing. He received training and was sent to the Royal Academy of San Fernando at the age of 16. His work started as very realistic and technical, then became strongly influenced by African sculpture. While African artifacts were being brought to Paris museums and Picasso experienced a “revelation” while viewing this artwork, later painting Les Demoiselles d’Avignon (considered the first Cubist work). He then developed a style of painting from this called Analytic Cubism with Georges Braque. This involved taking apart objects and analyzing them in terms of their shapes. He later, nearing World War II, moved into surrealism creating, arguably, his most famous work Guernica (a depiction of the German bombing of Guernica during the Spanish Civil War).

Picasso was a very smart artist. He not only knew how to technically create realistic art, but knew the styles of the changing periods and what was popular at the time. That was probably why he became famous because of his ability to adapt to the changing trends of society at the time, almost like he was a chameleon.

Luckily for me, the AGO (Art Gallery of Ontario) is having an exhibition called PICASSO: Masterpieces From The Musee National Picasso, Paris. It will feature 147 works from the museum until August, 2012. I am planning on visiting the exhibition to remember the works I saw 5 years ago. I’m planning on taking my mom (although she may repeat what she did last time) so I can share my new-found knowledge of Picasso. Maybe she will appreciate the artist like I have.