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Settings for carnivals at night

edited October 2016 Posted in » General Discussion
Hi, last year I took some brilliant pictures with my Nikon D3100, but this year I am struggling with it all. I'm taking pictures of carnivals at night and can't get a decent picture. Can anyone help please, this is all new for me.


  • This is going to be a big challenge under nearly all circumstances anyway, especially if you do not have a fast lens. Much will depend on how much light you have to work with, but a couple of suggestions in general.

    First you almost certainly should not have any flash going, and this means you must get out of auto mode.

    You will have great difficulty getting a picture without a lot of digital noise but if there is not a lot of movement a tripod can help to allow you to use a lower ISO. Otherwise you will likely have to use Auto ISO, and let it go higher than is comfortable.

    For starters, I'd suggest you use aperture priority, open the lens to as low a F number as you can, and use Auto ISO and hope that it does not choose too slow a shutter speed or too high an ISO. If the high ISO is too noisy, use the menu to set an upper limit.

    Holding steady will always be at least difficult, if not impossible without a tripod or other camera support.

    If it is very dark, auto focus will also be difficult. You may have to switch your lens to manual focus, and aim for a lit area. If you use multi-area focus it might work, but it might choose areas other than what you really want. Single area AF modes will be very difficult to hit focus with.

    If you have a tripod, try switching to live view. It may be easier to find focus manually, and if not, it may fire anyway after trying and failing to get good focus with AF.
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