I couldn’t imagine a better evening for a Christmas parade, the temperature was in the 30’s, no wind, no ice to contend with and no slippery snow hazard in the pass. I’ve been wanting to get down to Woodland Park to photograph the parade for quite a few years now but something always seems to get in my way, last year of course the entire event was cancelled due to the virus. I shot this event about a decade ago… in -8 degree temperatures with an old Canon digital that was unable to produce a usable picture beyond ISO 400 and an old film era AA powered flash unit that took 30 seconds to recover a charge. I managed to capture a couple of nice images but pretty much the night was a bust. Very little to show for two hours of misery in the bitter cold.
Technology has come a long way since those early days of digital photography. My camera now has no trouble creating a beautiful picture at ISO 3200 and my powerful little flash GODOX flash unit runs on the latest battery technology. The V1 speedlight can shoot all night on one battery with a recycle time of about a second. Amazing…
I arrived in town about two hours early to make sure I could get a close parking spot and headed over to my favorite eating and drinking establishment for a brat and a Dunkel. Beirwerks was already pretty busy by then with a good crowd gathered around the outdoor fire pit, awaiting the action on Mainstreet. I was early enough to find a seat at a table not too far from the warm flames and settled in to enjoy my refreshments.
Eventually I wandered downtown to see if I could find a strategic location along the parade route while I could still squeeze into the rapidly gathering crowd. As I made my way up the street I passed the concession area where hot chocolate and coffee were keeping the crowd warm and fires glowed in barrels that were brought in on every corner to warm the hands of the any chilled spectators.
My camera strategy was to find an exposure setting that would allow just enough ambient light to fill the background while exposing the foreground with my flash. I finally settled on an ISO of 3200 and a shutter speed of 1/125th of a second. I brought my 70-200 F4L lens due to it’s relatively fast speed for that focal length and the fact that the aperture remains static through the focal range of the lens. I don’t have a lens faster than F4 with that focal range so it was my best choice. Although as it turned out I would have probably been better off with my 24 -105 F4-5.6 since I was very close to the parade as it went by and my focal length would have been F4 most of the time anyway. Oh well, the long end of my F4L came in quite handy for a few of the shots! Once I was all dialed in I switched on the wheel locks to prevent inadvertent changes to my settings in the dark where it would be difficult to notice and correct.
Just as the parade was about to begin there was a delay as a couple of rednecks in a pickup truck apparently decided that the road barricades didn’t apply to them and drove directly toward the oncoming parade. A few minutes were wasted as the police escorted them off the parade route. As the floats cruised slowly past I did my best to pick out the best compilations through the darkness of night. A few times I switched off the flash to capture the overall scene up the street. I continued to shoot throughout the parade, all the while dodging Santa’s elves who were busy running around handing bags of candy to the children lining the streets.
As always, the best of these images and hundreds more are available for purchase on my website as wall art on glossy metal or acrylic sheets, stretched canvas and traditional matting and framing. Tons of cool household and gift items are also available with any image you like including coffee mugs, t-shirts, blankets and pillows, battery chargers, phone cases, stationary and much much more! Just click on any image you like and all the choices, sizes and prices will appear! For my viewers interested in images for commercial use, please visit my image licensing portal! Also, if you would like to see a more complete record of today’s images please follow my Instagram account!
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This post is not sponsored and all equipment used in it’s creation was purchased by me on my own volition.