10 Countries, 10 Days, 10 Tips: Day 3 - Mongolia

Photograph by Rick Sammon

It's Day 3 of my series on travel photography here on my blog.

Location: Mongolia.

Tip: Plan your trip for June.

Each June, the Nadaam festival takes place just outside of Ulan Bator, Mongolia’s capital. During the festival,  500 or so soldiers from the Mongolian army get dressed up like the soldiers in Genghis Khan army and put on a spectacular reinactment. Witnessing the festival, you can see why at one time Khan’s army scared the hell out just about everyone in its path.
Do you homework on the web. Note the show hours. Find out the earliest possible arrival time so you can get in a good shooting position. The more you plan, the fewer surprises you’ll have on site.

Photograph by Rick Sammon
On site, ask for a general timeline of events. This info will help you plan your day so you don’t miss festival highlights. In addition, take behind-the-scenes shots of performers getting ready. Ask if that’s okay and find out where to shoot.

Here are my recommendations for sharp shots of fast-paced action: set your shutter speed to 1/1000th of a second to freeze action, set your auto focus to AI Servo or Continuous Focus to track a moving subject, and set your frame rate to the max for the greatest number of frames per second.

When it comes to choosing an exposure mode, go for Shutter Priority. In that mode, once your shutter speed is set to 1/1000th of a second, if the light level changes, the shutter speed will remain at 1/1000th of a second. To get that fast of a shutter speed, on a cloudy day you may need to boost your ISO to 400, 800 or even 1000.  Don’t worry about shooting at high ISO settings. If digital noise is added, you can reduce it in Photoshop and Lightroom. 

Lens recos for photographing festivals:

Canon 70-200 f/4 IS lens
Canon 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6 IS lens

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Explore the light,

Photograph by Rick Sammon
P.S. Explore the countryside, too. You'll find many more people photography opportunities. While in Ulan Bator, take in a cultural show.

Photograph by Rick Sammon