When I heard about the Festival of Light event at Longleat I knew I had to go and get some photographs for the blog. In terms of night time light events I’ve experienced it’s second only to the ‘fire garden’ event at Stonehenge as part of cultural celebrations of the London 2012 Olympics.
The Festival of Light is the first cultural event of its kind in Europe and consists of twenty hand-crafted displays built and placed by a team of over one hundred from the Sichuan province in China.
The scale of the works, dotted around Longleat House, is simply amazing. There were hundreds, if not thousands, of people on the evening I went and as you’ll see below there was lots of space to get photographs.
Because of the dark conditions and high contrasting lights I took my trusty Olympus OMD E-M1 and 25mm f1.8 lens (a great combination for low light and sharp photographs) and one leg of my Three Legged Thing tripod called Brian as a monopod. Someone walked past and commented that it was the biggest selfie stick they’d ever seen… sometimes I despair! Most of the photos were taken in aperture priority mode and using the monopod to reduce any camera shake.
I really hope Longleat do something similar next winter, I’d love to spend more time wandering around getting even more photos.
A couple of weeks ago I decided to switch off from some recent stressful events for a few hours and head to Bristol Zoo. The Zoo is home to a variety of animals in a relaxed and quite spacious area. It’s hard to pick a favourite animal, but the red pandas, meerkats, gorillas, all seemed to be popular on the day.
The weather forecast for the day wasn’t great, but luckily it was wrong and I was treated to sun for most of the day. This meant that most of the photos I got were better than expected. For photos where the animal was behind glass I used my Lens Skirt to cut out the reflections.
The Twilight World section doesn’t allow flash photography, so I decided to play with the camera settings see what I could capture in the dark. Hand-holding the camera I was relying on built-in image stabilisation along with appropriate manual settings (ISO of 25600, speed no slower than 1/60 second, and maximum aperture) to get the best photos possible using the display screen rather than viewfinder. It’s fair to say that low light photography is challenging, and it’s one area where I expect cameras to improve in the future. But the photo of the slow loris below is pretty impressive given how dark it was. Someone walked past as I was taking photos and commented “That guy’s got a night vision camera”.