Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Staycation Photography Series: July 4th Edition

Summer vacation! Seems like as soon as summer comes, everyone is busy planning for and talking about their vacation. Going away is wonderful, but a "staycation" can be just as much fun! Explore your hometown, take day trips or just hang out in the backyard. Plus, there's tons of  photography fun to be had on a staycation and in this blog series we're going to give you some tips on enjoying staying home and tell you the right gear for your staycation photography! 

July 4th! It’s a long weekend and the height of summer. Lots of people plan a getaway to the beach, the mountains or pack the whole family into the car for a road trip. But what if you’re staying home? 
If you live in the USA, it’s pretty safe to say no matter how small your community, there’ll be some sort of festivities planned for Independence Day. A parade, fireworks, maybe a band concert; why not plan to take your camera and act like a tourist in your home town? 
Fireworks: From big and bombastic to small but fantastic, fireworks are a favorite summer spectacle! 
Tips: Arrive early to scout out a location free from obstructions like trees, power lines, lamp posts, houses. If you’re close up to where the fireworks will be launched, get ready to shoot right away as soon as they start going off, as later in the show there’ll be smoke and it could obstruct your shots. 
POW! A tripod and remote shutter release are a must for spectacular fireworks shots!
What you'll need:

1. Tripod
Long exposures call for a steady camera and so a tripod (or other stable place to rest your camera) is a necessity. 

2. Shutter Release
Again, not touching the camera reduces any possibility that the camera will move during a long exposure and we're big fans of this Pocket Wizard model. (DIY TIP: you can use the timer on your camera instead of a remote, but it will cut down considerably on the number of shots you're able to take.) 

3.  A zoom lens
We recommend a 70-300mm or 18-250mm (the latter can cover wide angle so it's great for those sweeping shots of the grand finales!).

The 18-250mm is great for fireworks as it can cover wide angle too!

Parades: Who doesn’t love a parade? If your town holds an Independence Day parade, grab your camera, and shoot it like a pro! 
TIPS: Arrive early and stake out a spot (are you sensing a pattern here?). Wear comfy shoes, you'll be standing or walking a LOT. Try for different perspectives, shoot from down low looking up, or try for a high vantage point and capture some of the crowd of spectators in your shot of the parade.
What you'll need:
1. Long zoom lens 
We like the 70-300mm or the 18-250mm. Both get the job done beautifully and within a budget.  If you're lucky enough to have a 150-500mm this is also a super choice!

The 70-300mm shoots a parade like a pro!

2. Monopod 
We love how you can bust this out to support the camera and lens and get a bit of extra stability, especially when using a longer lens. Not as bulky as a tripod, it's really nice to use when doing panning shots for videos too!
Use a monopod to get stability when using a longer lens.

3. Polarizing filter
4th of July parades are generally midday, so the summer light is bright and strong, and there are lots of possibilities for glare to pop up and ruin a shot (shiny cars with lots of chrome for example), so toss a polarizing filter into your bag to cut that glare and saturate your colors a bit. For the 18-250mm use a 62mm polarizer, and for the 70-300mm this 58mm polarizer is perfect. 

So if you're stuck at home this 4th of July weekend, don't despair! There's loads of fun to be had and photographs to be made! Watch the blog for our next edition of the Staycation Photography series!

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