Zhenjiang Lantern Festival
As Chinese new years comes to an end, another festival approaches. The lantern festival starts just after the Chinese new year ends, and unlike Chinese new year, this is a much more public and pretty time in China.
I had to go to this festival twice in consecutive days, with two groups of friends, so I had a lot of time to walk around the festival. This was my first time that I had shot a lantern festival and my first thought was that it will be extremely low light so I took one of my fast zooms and one of my Nikons with me to shoot at high ISOs but I was so wrong. Shooting the lanterns is not really low light at all as the lanterns themselves are extremely bright and I found myself shoot at between ISO 400 – 800 the whole evening.
The biggest problem with shooting any festival in Chin is always the sea of people that go there.
The biggest problem with going somewhere with some friends is finding time to shoot. Friends are not so interested in waiting for a couple of minutes to let you shoot each time you see something interesting. I tried to shoot as fast as possible but I could see that some of my friends were getting a little frustrated with me.
At the end of the evening, we took a walk around the riverside and I saw this traditional Chinese boat floating before the lanterns. I tried to do a long exposure but i could only get a sharp image at 1 second. Handhold for anything longer than one second was impossible. At the end of the day, i was so tired carrying my Nikon D3s and the Tamrom 15-30 F2.8 lens. A very heavy setup.
The second evening, i decided to take my Fujifilm XT1 and the Fujifilm 18mm F2 lens with me. Previously,I have said that I hate the Fujifilm 18 mm R F2 lens but I have been reading online that many people with the Fuji Xpro 1 love this lens, so I decided to have another go with this lens. This combination made my camera very light compared to the previous evening.
Shooting with the Fujifilm XT1 was so much easier and lighter. I love my Nikons but they are not so convenient when walking around with your friends in a crowded place.
I really enjoyed shooting with the Fuji XT1 and people were not so intimated by the camera. I found the EVF to be very useful for once compared to OVF in the Nikons.
I really wanted a clean shot of this but there were just too many people there and they only way I could shoot it with out people would be to do a very long exposure but we were not allowed to set up any tripods and after waiting around here for about 20 minutes, my friends had lost their patients and I had to move on.
There were a lot of lanterns for children at the festival. Western cartoons were a big draw card for all the kids who dragged their parents to go and see it.
I had a lot of fun both days at the festival. Dealing with huge crowds is not easy and requires a lot of patients but there is a lot to see and a lot to experience. Shooting with the FujiFilm XT1 was so much easier and made the second day much more enjoyable.
The lantern festival will end soon, but it is really interesting to explore for a foreigner like me. We just don’t see festivals like this in the west and I enjoyed my time there. If you come to China in February, I highly recommend that you find a lantern festival to explore. Many cities will have a festival in February to celebrate the Lantern Festival so they should not be too hard to find.