Chinese New Year: Sydney 2010

One of the biggest events on Sydney’s calendar is the celebration for Chinese New Year. I was very keen to check it out this year and now I possessed an excellent zoom lens it made sense that I would be able to get some interesting shots.

Good in theory, however I first had to contend with the crowds. The streets were chock solid. Last year over 60,000 people turned out for the Parade and Fireworks, my guess is this year yielded just as many.

I had made an early decision to not use my flash. I definitely see the benefits of it, infact I wouldn’t tackle a Wedding without two Speedlights in my kit. Today I would make do without it and that meant cranking up the ISO. I settled for 3200 in the end, coupled with a f2.8 70 – 200mm VR. Got mixed results, most obvious was grain (noise). At this point I lamented the fact I didn’t own a D3 (I’ve heard awesome stories of their ability to push ISO through the roof and not suffer image quality).

Another big problem was focusing, sometimes there just wasn’t enough contrast in the subject for the auto-focus to grab onto and I’ve always found manual focus difficult on a DSLR, the view finder is just so small.

Even at such a high ISO, sometimes I was still lucky to get a shutter speed of 1/100th. Coupled with the nature of a moving target (subject) and the weight and zoom of the lens, getting sharp images proved to be a real problem.

The Parade itself was fairly entertaining, although I will admit to not understanding much of it. The Dragons were a highlight and one of the reasons I was there, sadly I couldn’t get a decent shot.  All said and done I think I got some interesting shots.

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