Carnival Photography Tips

Capture all the fun of the fair with these handy tips for photographing carnivals

Carnivals are a fantastic opportunity for photographers. Filled with fantastic colours, exotic sights and lots of movement, the moment is ripe for a wealth of different styles. Portraits, food, abstracts, animals or general street scenes are all available to capture if you know where to look. Famous the world over, the Notting Hill Carnival takes place this weekend (29th-30th August 2010), so if you’re lucky enough to be at the London mardi gras, follow these tips to ensure brilliant shots. When you’re done, don’t forget to upload your best images to your PhotoRadar gallery!

1. Think creatively

Pro travel photographer Jon Freeman advises: “Carnivals are really vibrant and dynamic, so you need to try and convey this in your shots – this is especially true with dancers in flowing costumes. You can do this by selecting a slow shutter speed such as 1/8sec or 1/15sec. But don’t use too slow a shutter speed or you’ll lose all the detail.”


2. Look for different viewpoints

“A low viewpoint with a wide-angle lens can provide strong foreground interest, while cropping in tight can isolate colour and detail,” says John Freeman.

3. Be prepared

Write a list of potential shots and work out what the minimum equipment you need to do the shoot is. You’re unlikely to want to carry a tripod around all day in a crowd – and you might find the police want to move you on in such a busy environment anyway. Consider taking a monopod instead – or increase the ISO on your camera to give you faster shutter speeds for .

4. Think about lenses

Take a couple of zoom lenses: a wide-angle zoom for establishing shots and a mid-range telephoto zoom like a 70-200mm, which is ideal for candids and portraits of individual performers.

5. Shoot into the light

Shooting straight into the light can be very effective. Costumes made with translucent, colourful material can look really vivid when backlit. If the light is particularly strong, your camera’s autoexposure system may underexpose the scene, so you may have to dial in a little positive exposure compensation. Shoot RAW files to give you more room for correcting exposure errors when processing your images later.

The pictures that illustrate this article were taken by PhotoRadar member anne73 of the Venice Carnival. To see more of her great pictures, visit her gallery, or see more on her website.

No matter what kind of images you manage to capture at this weekend’s Notting Hill Carnival (or any other for that matter) we’d love to see them on the site, so be sure to upload your shots to your PhotoRadar gallery.