This is not typical of me, but sometimes I just don't take my DSLR Nikon D5500 camera with me to fun experiences. I feel like it can be a little daunting knowing I have to keep it around my neck, then come home and transfer all the RAW files to edit in Lightroom. Not that I don't love it, but I need a break from it sometimes. So in comes my new iPhone 8, which I recently had to upgrade to for more storage capabilities, and I decided those pictures would be good enough for this trip. I'm actually really glad I did, because I was pleasantly surprised at the images I captured and then edited directly on my phone with the Fotor app. It was a simple and faster way of getting those images into Facebook and sharing.
We decided to brave the cold on Sunday, December 10th when it was a chilly 35 degrees to get some fun in at Carowind's new Winterfest in Charlotte, NC. We dressed warm and brought those "hot hands" warmers with us, so it wasn't too bad walking around with it being so frigid. Since we are Gold Pass members, Winterfest was included for us, but you can find out more ticket information at www.carowinds.com/play/winterfest. I was amazed and nostalgic as my family and I perused the beautiful display of lights, watched the singing and dancing Christmas entertainment, rode some of the rides that were still running, and visited the BEST SANTA EVER! I asked both my kids (3 and 5 years old) what they liked best. T said he liked the Santa and L said she liked the lights. My personal favorite was that the lights were synchronized with the music throughout parts of the park.
If you weren't sure Winterfest was worth the trip, I would say that it is. However, we went on a Sunday night when it was cold with less crowds. I always appreciate having more space and less crowds to enjoy a fun experience. I suggest trying to go on a Sunday night if possible. If you end up buying a season pass for 2018, then you can get your trip to Winterfest included in the season ticket price. Feel free to share your experience in the comments if you end up going.
Photography Tips: If you are using an iPhone to photograph a night time experience with Christmas lights be sure to use the tap and drag option for exposure. All you have to do is press your finger on the image for a few seconds. A little sun will pop up. Touch the sun and move it up and down for a change in exposure.
If you are bringing your DSLR camera make sure you increase your ISO in darkened situations. Do not use your flash! You should shoot in manual mode to give you full control of your camera. If you do not know how to use manual mode yet you are missing out on all the beautiful images you could create with your camera. If you want to learn how to take full control of your camera in 2 hours take my Introductory Photography Class. I will teach you how to go from auto mode to manual mode and you will be amazed what your camera is capable of when used in manual! Click here if you are interested in getting better photos with your DSLR camera.
One of the events I look forward to each year in Rock Hill is the downtown area being transformed into a winter wonderland, despite the lack of snow. Being originally from Syracuse, NY (usually wins the prize for snowiest city in the nation) I'm much happier with the fake snow they provide at this event....I don't have to shovel it! The amount of time and coordination for an event like Christmasville must take hundreds of elves along with the magical leadership of Mrs. Claus and Santa. There are a TON of activities going on all weekend long from Thursday-Sunday. This includes cookie decorating workshops (I'll have to try this next year as I ALWAYS burn my cookies), Tea time with Mrs. Claus, the Children's Museum Celebration, a Fezziwig Ball, Horse Drawn Carriage Rides, Santa's Toy Workshop, Train Rides, Trolley Tours, Pony Rides, Window Exhibit contests, a ton of street entertainers, book stories with The Grinch, and so much more. If you want to know more so you can plan your trip here for the 2018 year take a look at www.christmasvillerockhill.com for a list of the events.
Both my 3 year old son and 5 year old daughter had an AMAZING time at Christmasville. I brought my Nikon D5500 and iphone 8 with me to capture each moment as we enjoyed our little town turning into the North Pole. You can see our adventures in the images above. If you aren't sure you should attend this next year, just go and you won't be disappointed. You do not need to spend any money as the event is FREE, but there are fees to ride the carnival rides and ice skating rink. There is a huge tent you can walk though to buy local products as gifts and Amelie's Cafe was open for the most mouth watering eclairs! There are also a lot of food tents if you come very hungry. I actually wish I got more pictures, but there is so much going on that it's really hard to capture it all!
Photography Tip: Use an aperture of 2.8f or less when you want bokeh (blurred background) in a portrait. Most of the street characters I took pictures of as I strode through main street had bokeh because of the aperture I was using. If you want an image of the street and more of your image in focus you should choose a higher aperture. Remember when you are at an event with your family to not only take pictures, but also enjoy the experience. If you aren't getting the images you visualize don't get frustrated. Every time you press the shutter you are learning more about how your camera works. If you are using your camera in auto then you are not taking control of you camera. If you want more control and less frustration, take my Introductory Photography Class that I offer. Click here for more info.
Larisa is a natural light photographer and teacher in the Rock Hill, SC and Charlotte, NC area.