The annual Asian Lantern Festival has become one of the top things to do in Cleveland, Ohio during the summer. It’s easy to understand why as you enter the grand and inviting entrance giving you a hint of views to come. Your senses will be overwhelmed in the best way with lights, animation, interaction, and even a little education to boot. If you can’t tell already if I enjoyed this experience, the answer is a resounding YES.
The Asian Lantern Festival is hosted by the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo in partnership with Tianya Arts & Culture. Kicking off in July and running through the end of August, this event has been known to extend into September due to its popularity. The 2022 Asian Lantern Festival has officially been extended to September 17 and I highly recommend you make room for this incredible and immersive festival on your calendars.
What To Do at The 2022 Asian Lantern Festival in Cleveland, Ohio’s Metroparks Zoo
Learn Something New
One thing you will notice as you walk through the Festival is the signage near each themed lantern display. These signs are there to help the viewer learn a little something about what they are seeing. If you feel intrigued by the lantern display you are viewing, take a moment to read the sign to get even more out of your experience.
Get A Taste of Asain Cuisine In The Cleveland Metroparks Zoo
Be sure to stop at the Asian Food Market on your right after entering the zoo through the Maple Leaf Tunnel. You’ll find a variety of Asian food stands, including many Cleveland favorites. You can also find stands set up throughout the park with more food options.
Photo-Ops Galore at The Asian Lantern Festival
On top of having amazing photo opportunities in just about every direction you look, there are actual photo displays set up throughout the park intended for you to stand in to get photographed. From several lighted wings to Polaroid-like frames with animal friends, and more. Keep a look out as there are several great opportunities!
Get Interactive at the Asian Lantern Festival
On top of many of the lanterns being animated, there are several interactive exhibits throughout the Festival. From interactive swings, butterflies, fun in the Underwater World, and more, it’s great for kids (or the kid at heart). Have fun and play!
Enjoy Live Performances
On top of the huge display of themed lanterns, food, and photo-ops, you’ll be able to experience a live performance each night. These acrobatic, dancing and juggling performances happen four times a night on the hour and last about 20 minutes. A great way to take a break, or to end your evening at the Asian Lantern Festival. Performances are held nightly at 6:45, 7:45, 8:45, and 9:45 pm and only during walk-through days.
Asian Lantern Festival 2022 Details
Plan Your Visit To Cleveland Metropark Zoo’s 2022 Asian Lantern Festival
Visit Site | 3900 Wildlife Way, Cleveland, OH 44109
Dates: July 6-
August 21 September 17 (extended!). Special Wild Ride on September 18, guests can ride their bikes through the exhibit on the last day.
Parking: There are several parking lots and spaces, all are free.
Ticket Cost: Advance Purchase Members: $19 per/$57 4-pack, Non-Member: $22 per/$66 4-pack. Price increases a few dollars with same-day box office purchase. Children under 2 enter for free.
Drive-Through: Limited days offered. Members: $57 per car/ Non-Members: $66 per car.
Wild Ride: Members: $15 per adult/ $10 per child, Non-Members: $16 per adult, $11 per child age 2-11
Bonus: 8 Creative Ideas for Photographing The Asian Lantern Festival
I have had a lot of experience photographing in low light settings over the past 20 years. Our cameras and smartphones have come a long way since then but still aren’t perfect. I’m going to share a few tips on shooting in low light and 8 creative ideas for photographing the Festival. Whatever you do, have fun and experiment with your camera, that’s part of the fun of being a photographer!
Photographing Low Light
One of the more challenging settings to take photos in is low light. I’m sharing a few tips here on how I take photos in low lighting using your smartphone or camera.
My biggest tip when shooting photos or video with a smartphone in a dramatic, low-light setting is to control the exposure. Ever notice when you point your camera somewhere that may have very bright elements and it can cause your image to look blown out? Or maybe the shot looks great until you move your camera. This is a perfect case for exposure lock!
How to use Exposure Lock
- Tap the screen in the bright area to get an exposure you like.
- When happy, press down in that same spot until you see a yellow box blink around your finger, this locks the exposure. Now you can move your camera around and keep your setting. Note: the exposure may change if the lighting changes dramatically.
- Bonus: You may notice a line with a sun icon shows up on the right of the box. If you want to adjust the brightness of your screen, slide your finger up to brighten and down to darken.
There are other phone camera settings you can experiment with when shooting in a low-light scene
- Long Exposure: you can set your camera app to take a long exposure, but this will require a very steady camera, or else you will get a blurred image.
- Live Photo: this causes those photos that have some movement in them. But did you know there are 3 custom settings you can assign to the photo? You can make it bounce back and forth, constantly repeat the motion, or convert to a long exposure.
- Flash: while I don’t recommend it, this may be best for selfies or pictures of groups in the dark. Because they will be backlit with the lanterns, their faces will be darker. The flash might not always work well, though, don’t be surprised if your image is blown out.
To access these settings in your iPhone camera app, tap the small arrow in the center on top to pull up the menu below with circle icons. I apologize if you have other types of smart phones I am unfamiliar with. However, I believe they all work similarly and this should give you an idea of what to search for.
DSLR & Mirrorless Cameras
There are three major settings that control the photo results. Aperture, ISO, and Shutter Speed. You’ll need to have an understanding of how these settings work together to create your imagery.
- Aperture: controls how much light gets into the camera sensor. Aim for a wide aperture lens below f/4 if possible. However, I shot all of these images with an f/4 lens and was able to get good results.
- ISO: controls light sensitivity. You will want to use a high ISO, but don’t just pick the highest and go with it as you may end up with very noisy images. I shot within a range of 800 ISO to 2500 ISO as the night darkened.
- Shutter Speed: controls how long your exposure is. A good rule of thumb is to at the very minimum have a shutter speed that is double or more the focal length of your lens. If you are shooting with a 50mm lens, you’ll want to have at least 1/100th of a shutter speed.
These are just a few basic technical tips on using your camera or smartphone to photograph in low light. I may do a post down the line elaborating on photography tips, but for now I just wanted to share a few basics. In the meantime, keep reading for my 8 Creative Photo Ideas below! Remember, have fun and experiment!
CREATIVE Photo Idea #1: Have Patience
There will more than likely be a lot of people visiting when you are there so getting that lantern shot with no one in it might be challenging. My first creative photo tip is to have patience. I know, it can be hard, but you can get lucky and get a great shot or two with no people.
I suggest setting your scene first, take a test shot or two where you want to get a photo to make sure your settings and composition are good and wait. The natural ebb and flow of foot traffic generally has small breaks between groups and this is where you need to jump into action and shoot.
CREATIVE Photo Idea #2: Embrace People
Sometimes having people in your photographs isn’t a bad thing. While the crowds can make everything feel cluttered, sometimes people can also make the photo. Consider embracing the people in the way of your dream shot and use them as props in your photo. Here’s some benefits of people in your photography:
- Scale: everyone has a good idea of how big a person can be, this will help viewers understand the sheer size of what they are looking at
- Energy: sometimes people can add energy to a scene by how they interact with it
- Movement: you can have fun and experiment with long exposures that will show people moving and enjoying the display. You’ll need a tripod or a very still area you can prop your camera for this.
- Memories: If you attend with friends and family, try to capture some photos of them to remember the moments later on when you remenisce.
CREATIVE Photo Idea #3: Look Up
The Asian Lantern Festival has several lantern tunnels and a few displays that are set up high. This is a perfect opportunity to look up and get that epic shot. Here are a few ways you can go about a shot like this:
- Worms-eye view: squat down and look up, this can create a feeling that what you are looking at is gigantic. This is also a great way to block out distracting background elements.
- Crop people out: a perfect trick to get cool looking photos without people in them. Frame your shot just above the heads of people in your way.
- Remove distractions: looking up can help eliminate distracting background and replace it with a much more simple sky scene that will make your phhoto really pop.
CREATIVE Photo Idea #4: Foreground
This is a technique I use to help create visual interest and to sometimes help block an undesirable element from a photo. Like people, a powerline, a fence pole, etc. If you are shooting with a camera, you can use manual focus to get full control. Another way to achieve this is to use your focus points and direct it to the area you want in focus. If you’re using a smart phone, try tapping the screen where you want the focus to be.
Here are two creative ways to use foreground in your photography:
- Focused Foreground: direct your cameras focus on the item closest to the camera and let the rest of the image fall off and be blurry.
- Blurry Foreground: is another way to do this similar technique but to focus on what is in the background letting the foreground get out of focus.
Have fun thinking up unique compositions!
CREATIVE Photo Idea #5: isolation
Maybe the scene feels a little too busy, there are too many people, or you just really like one particular element. Here is where isolating that item can help make a great composition. Don’t just point and shoot, consider how the item fills your frame. Here are some benefits of isolating your subject:
- Removes Distractions: too many people? a fence pole or other item taking your eye away from the subject? crop them out.
- Make Subject Pop: if you really like a lantern, this is a great way to make it stand out and add variety to your photographs.
CREATIVE Photo Idea #6: Different Perspectives
So you’ve tried all the ideas above and are still looking to be creative? Try a different perspective! This can help set your photos apart from everyone else. Here are some ideas to try:
- Abstract crops: the image above is part of the Dragon Tunnel, but I really liked the concentric pattern its body created.
- Shoot between scenes: the green image below was a lit-up tree where I could see the next scene through the leaves. Using my camera in the manual-focus mode so I can control it, I got a peek at the other scene between the trees.
- Think outside the tunnel: in the Lantern Tunnel image below I was waiting for people to leave the tunnel when standing aside I saw a great composition on the outside of the tunnel. While I know the tunnel is a popular photo-op, I am sure not many are photographing outside which gave me a unique shot.
CREATIVE Photo Idea #7: Environmental
Help includes a sense of place with your lantern photos by including some of the background scenery that isn’t part of the display at the Asian Lantern Festival in Cleveland. This may be easier to do when its still light outside.
CREATIVE Photo Idea #8: Reflection
As you walk around the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo you’ll come across lakes, creeks, and ponds near lighted displays that can give you an opportunity to create mirrored compositions.
Have you been to the Asian Lantern Festival at the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo before? Plan on going this year? Let me know in the comments!
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