The Chicago Thanksgiving Parade may not be as awesome if compared to NYC’s parade. But I don’t have to travel in order to see it. That’s why, as a newbie photographer, I’ve been looking forward to it these past few weeks. I was really excited to take some good pictures, see where I’m at in regards to skill, and put my new Canon 50mm F/1.4 Prime Lens to use.
Unfortunately, I was pretty much ill prepared for this photo adventure. As a result, I took a lot of pretty crappy pictures (not all, however, and I’m thankful for that). But I also learned some lessons. So, here are some tips (really, this is more of a reminder to myself for next year’s parade) on how to take good pictures at a parade.
1. Go Early
One of biggest factor that contributed to my failure was getting there late. Well, I wasn’t late. But it was already crowded when I got there. So, I wasn’t able to position myself in front of the crowd. I was hanging at the back and ended up with these type of shots:
So, yeah, instead taking good pictures of those hot Blackhawk Cheerleaders, I got someone else’s head.
2. Location, Location, Location
One of the benefits of getting to the parade ground early is also to be able to pick a good spot. By good spot, meaning not just in front of the crowds. You also need to place yourself in front of something, like a lampost, so people won’t bump you from behind.
Also, stay far from spots like under a bridge, short power lines or elevated tracks (which was my spot today). Because they’re gonna make those huge awesome balloons crawl to the ground (like the picture above) and deny you a good photo.
Then there’s also other obstructions like traffic officials, cops and the CTA guy (I have a Facebook album, called “The Stalwart CTA Guy”, with 50 pictures like the one above.)
3. Bring Zoom
Since I was really eager to try my new 50mm prime lens, I took that instead of my Sigma 50-200mm telephoto lens. A decision that I regretted once I got to the parade. Not that my prime lens did poorly. But, since I wasn’t able to pick a good location, I could’ve climbed some scaffolding from behind the crowd and used zoom on my subjects.
Plus, there were some cute girls at the parade (like blondie up there) that I wish I could’ve taken their close up photo (like blondie up there).
4. Take Other Pictures
Besides the parade, it’s also cool to take pictures of the crowd, of people and kids having fun. I did this a lot earlier because I wasn’t in a good position to take photos of the parade anyways, and enjoyed it a lot. I’m a shy person and I always hesitate to take pictures of random strangers. But the parade was perfect cover, people were lost in the festivities that they didn’t mind me taking pictures of them.
This kid was really worried about the Elmo balloon getting safely under the elevated tracks.
5. Dress Warmly
Chicago is cold and windy. So, I don’t really need to explain this.
Well, that’s that. Hopefully, I’d remember to check this post sometime next year. So, maybe, after a couple more practice parade photos, I’d do better next year.