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Sky Lanterns

David67David67 Member
edited April 2012 in wedding photography
I am shooting a wedding in June and wondered if anyone out there has ever shot sky lantern's being let off into the night sky? What would my best setting be? Thanks Peeps.


  • It depends if they're in a dark outdoor space, or under street lamps. Search on flickr for pictures like this one where you can see the shooter's exif data: http://www.flickr.com/photos/dans180/5422151858/
  • And shoot RAW so you can recover detail in the lanterns after the fact.
  • TrevTrev Moderator

    Advice from Mgarber same as I would, but also, make sure the couple don't just grab and let go of the lantern in a single move, make sure they hang onto it to give yourself some time to really grab shots.

    Plus, if you have an Video Light, Lowell ID maybe, with a tungsten bulb, set your camera's Kelvin to around the 2800-3200 mark when using, to get good skin tone, but also to get blue sky if opening up with ISO and Aperture, but that will also retain the lantern's warm glow.

    Use video and then concentrate just on the lantern's exposure, no video light to get some great silhouettes happening, just like Mgarber's link above. :)

    I have done some in past, and also I have a wedding coming up in July with some, should be great.

    Post a result.

  • alternatively to using a video light u can gel ur flash with cto/cts
  • Hi guy's, many thanks for your responses. My vision for my images would be to get down low with a wide angle lens and shoot close up with my sb910 gelled so as to illuminate the bride and groom letting go of there lantern. Would these setting work at late dusk? high iso lets say 2000, large aperture 2.8 and shutter at 125s. I don't want to loose the lanterns glow. I do have a video light, so I could try it without the flash if this would be to dominant. any further thoughts?
  • TrevTrev Moderator
    I did think of the flash gelled also, but you would need to snoot/flag it so it does not become a broad spectrum of light, zoom head full in to 200mm as well, concentrating on couple so the mood of rest in semi-darkness prevails. The flash would need to be very soft though, nothing too harsh, and I would not aim for 'perfect' exposure on couple with flash, juuuust a tad under if possible or at least bring the couple down a bit in post to maintain that moody element.

    When you say dusk, dusk means there is still plenty of light around so that high an ISO and aperture you may get too much background in, depends of course your definition of dusk. The sky would need to be very dark, or a great sunset backdrop and naturally you do need to have the lanterns very prominent in the shots, that's the whole point.

    You will need to wait until the day for timing, check your sunset times and figure on around 15-30 mins after official sunset so you can get the rich blue sky from a tungsten setting on camera or enhance a great sunset even further.

    The only thing which may affect you would be the couple's timing if they have a set time in place you will be governed by that if it's pretty late in the evening.

    Then the thing you can check is the status of the moon, 3/4 to full moon would be awesome, so all of these things can be worked out beforehand, and maybe, one night do a trial run, not with a lantern, but someone holding a tungsten light source, etc.

    Up to you. I have done similar in past as mentioned, sorry cannot find examples no longer on my HDD and don't feel like wading through discs to dig up eg.

  • TrevTrev Moderator
    Now *this* is a lantern shot.

    Festival of Lanterns in Yee Peng, China.


    Camera Exif:

    Camera: Canon EOS 7D
    Lens: Canon 10-22
    Focal Length: 10 mm
    Shutter Speed: 1/15 sec.
    Aperture: 5.6
    ISO/Film: 800

  • Thanks Trev, some really good points to ponder over!! I'll have to set up a trial run i think to see what results are best for me. Yes, wow, that is a great shot above, the sheer amount of lanterns makes it a bit special also, Nice elevation, tripod and cable release I would imagine got this!! hey Trev, I also have a white dove release shot to be had at this wedding i'm shooting, would a 125s speed with whatever aperture apropriate to daylight with flash?? What would you do to ensure a nice sharp image ?
  • TrevTrev Moderator
    edited April 2012
    I most certainly would not shoot with 125th second with a flying bird, all you would get is a blur, not sharp enough, if shooting in daylight.

    I would forget the flash, unless you try for a high speed sync shot to try to fill in shadows on couple, I merely would make my shutter around the 500th+, appropriate aperture for ambient and just rely on a bit of HSS flash, if it registers at all, and trust that.

    I'd put the flash on manual, full power [in high speed sync] then check the back of flash to get an appropriate distance reading, that way you can judge on the day.

    Once again, get a friend, in daylight, set the camera up for ambient, flash in HSS and manual full power, have the friend throw up something into the air, maybe a toy furry animal, see what you get. I still think you'd get a slight blur, but that would be appropriate for a flying dove, but certainly 125th would be way too fuzzy.

    Now, if there were a few of the doves, instead of just one, you could go lower in shutter, since not all the birds would fly away at same time/speed, that way get some sharp, some blurred for that effect.

    You don't want an absolute 'stop dead in tracks' sharp shot of bird, too sterile, but you do want to clearly see it.

  • That's seams like sound advice, thankyou my friend.
  • MgarberMgarber Member
    This is really my kind of discussion! I love experimental lighting.

    This scenario (the lantern) sound ripe for experimentation. Get some lanterns and a couple of corvee laborers to release them at dusk. Try planting a remote flash in the grass, which will shoot up into the lantern, causing it to work like a diffuser and casting light onto the faces of the couple, to the exclusion of the background.

    Or, if there is too much ambient light to register the glow of the lantern after its' taken off, maybe hit it with a hand-held spot light (from the rear of the lantern). Those spots are usually tungsten anyway, so it won't change the fire-colored light of the lantern.

    Also, with the posted lantern shots, I'm surprised at how slow the shutter speeds have been. Especially with the one Trev posted above, 15th of a second! I'm surprised at how well the scene was frozen, but that may not be suitable for your couple, unless they're willing to do some re-tries.

    Crap, now I want to buy some sky lanterns.
  • David67David67 Member
    Hahaha, Let me know how you get on Mgarber if you experiment b4 I do. I am tempted with some dramatic gelled off camera flash on the couple while still retaining the ambiant glow from the lantern. I'm off to the shops now!!!!
  • MgarberMgarber Member
    My ADD caught up with me and I stayed up last night taking pictures of the moon instead. After all, the the moon is the original sky lantern!
  • Neil vNNeil vN Administrator
    I have ...



    You're looking at high ISO settings (3,200 ISO), and wide apertures (f2.8) .... and the appropriate shutter speed where you get good exposure.

    Shoot in manual metering mode.

    WB set to Incandescent ... and shoot in RAW.
  • David67David67 Member
    Hi Neil, thank you for post on this subject. I noticed after watching your fusion clip that you were stood just off camera to the right whilst photographing the couple light the lantern but I couldn't help notice flash coming from your general direction, was it from your flashgun Neil or was it from another source? What was your shutter speed for that shot? Best Regards.
  • Neil vNNeil vN Administrator
    nope .. must have been other people's flashes going off
  • Neil vNNeil vN Administrator
    Trev ... super-cool shot with the mass of lanterns!
  • TrevTrev Moderator

    Yes, a great shot, but unfortunately I did not shoot it, someone sent me a link in an email to that, and I copied the exif data, etc. and I thought I had coding in there linking to the site, but for some reason I did not do it and never even noticed after posting, my apologies.

    Now I cannot find the site, but it's definitely not my shot. :(

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