Paper Lanterns of Vietnam
In the middle of Vietnam, along the eastern coastline, there is a small town called Hoi An. This town is one of the most popular places for western tourists to visit. The history is plainly visible on almost every street and the local residents cater primarily to the tourist trade. And probably the thing that Hoi An has become best known for are paper lanterns.
Paper Lanterns for sale in a market
Paper lanterns set afloat.
Permanent and Ephemeral Paper Lanterns
Hoi An offers two kinds of paper lanterns for sale. The first kind is the traditional lanterns that you’d hang in your house or on your porch. They come in many sizes and colors, and all look beautiful to photograph. The other, more ephemeral kind are simple paper boxes that look like Chinese take-out containers, with a little tea candle in them. After you make a wish, you’re meant to place the lantern into the river and watch it float away.
- The best time to shoot lanterns is at twilight. It’s not dark enough to lose the background, and the blue sky color compliments the lights of the lanterns.
- You’ll absolutely need a tripod. Otherwise you’ll be shooting handheld at slow shutter speeds, and that usually doesn’t work out too well.
- Expose for the brightest part of the scene (usually the lantern), and everything else will look good.
- Avoid using flash if you can. It will just eliminate the glow of the lantern.
- If you use long exposures, you won’t need to worry if someone walks through your frame of view. They won’t likely show up in your image.
- Err on the side of underexposure. Most camera meters will tend to be fooled by the bright lights and dark background. If you shoot at -1 or -2 compensation, you’ll probably be a lot closer to the correct exposure.
If you’re interested in visiting Vietnam, check out Private Photo Tours, for personalized photography experiences.