How to take better photographs at festivals (2nd New Year Festival)

4th January 2010


Happy New Year and I wish you all the best for 2010!

One of the most spectacular New Year’s parties to photograph must definitely be the annual ‘Tweede Nuwejaar’ (Second New Year)!

Photograph taken on 1/200th shutter speed with f6.3 and the lens set to 24mm Wide Angle. A slight fill-in flash was used.

On 2nd January every year, the Cape minstrels- dressed up in bright multi-coloured satin suits, and their faces painted and wearing quirky boater hats- take to the streets of Cape Town to celebrate the only day of the year that the Cape slaves of old had free, the day after New Year.

Photograph taken on 1/320th shutter speed with f8 and the lens set to 24mm Wide Angle. ISO was set to 100

The Slave Lodge as seen in the background of the photograph above was build 1679, to house the slaves working in the Company’s Garden, and housed the slaves for over 130 years. The Slave Lodge is one of the oldest buildings in Cape Town.
And their signature music tune... ‘Daar kom die Alibama’

“Daar kom die Alibama, die Alibama die kom oor die see
Nooi, nooi, die rietkooi-nooi, die rietkooi is gemaak
Die rietkooi is vir my gemaak om daarop te slaap
January, February, March, April, May, June, July
August, September, October, November, December...”

This song is about a small ship called “The Alibama” that used to bring reeds to Cape Town cut from rivers further along the coast. These reeds were used to make a type of a “honey moon” bed (rietkooi) for the newly weds. The bride to be would sing this songwhile making the bed out of the reeds brought by “The Alibama” 

When taking photographs at a festival like this, it is easy to get over whelmed by the atmosphere and all the people as well as all the photographic opportunities.

I always try to do FIVE things:

ONE: Have a look out for the small pictures, and try to get a couple of detail photographs as well.

Photograph taken on 1/200th shutter speed with f5 with the lens set to 78mm and ISO 400

TWO: Shoot from a low angle. This always gives a different perspective to you photographs.

Photograph taken on 1/160th shutter speed with f6.3 with the lens set to 24mm and ISO 100

THREE: Look to see what is happening behind you. Often these make the best candid shots.

Photograph taken on 1/640th shutter speed with f5 with the lens set to 200mm and ISO 400

FOUR: Never pack your camera away until you leave. I was about to leave and started making my way out, when all of a sudden this little girl breaks away from the group and runs into the sunlight; I had a split second to get the shot. Had I already packed away my camera... I would have missed an awesome photograph.

Photograph taken on 1/500th shutter speed with f4.5 with the lens set to 200mm and ISO 400

FIVE: Shoot in Program Mode on my camera. That allows me the freedom to concentrate on the subject I am photographing, knowing my camera will select the correct shutter speed and aperture, but I can make quick changes without missing an important shot. See my PHOTOCOACH TIP to see how you can use program mode on your camera.


As you most properly already know, I offer one on one photographic lessons.

I can help you take better photographs; learn more about photography and your camera’s features. I can even help you set up a home studio to make your hobby pay for itself, or explain that new camera flash that you received as a Christmas gift.

It doesn’t matter what brand of camera it is, or even what type, even compact “happy snap” cameras are packed full of features, that when properly used can improve your photographs dramatically.

It also doesn’t matter what your level of knowledge is, as I ‘pitch’ the course at your level!


To receive your free one hour Personal Photocoach session follow these easy steps:

Step 1: Phone me on 082 853 9939 or email on to make an appointment.
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Photocoach Session at Noordhoek Farm Village


If you would like to experiment with different apertures and shutter speeds within the comfort of fully automatic setting use the Program Mode on your camera.

This mode will still set the exposure automatically, but allows you just enough control to learn more about how the different settings will affect your images. Normally your camera will choose the shutter speed and aperture based on the amount of light, just like the fully automatic modes. But by moving the input dials on the camera you can make the camera use a faster or a slower shutter speed, or a bigger or smaller aperture, depending on the effect you are looking for.

So, [name], if you’ve been putting off trying different apertures or shutter speeds, why not give it a try in 2010. It could open a whole new side to your photography...


1: Switch to ‘P’: A ‘P’ on the exposure mode dial will indicate this mode. With the camera in the ‘P’ auto exposure mode you then press the shutter release halfway to activate the cameras built in light meter.

2: Turn the Dial: You can adjust the shutter speed and aperture combination by turning the main input dial on your camera. (Also called the index dial- because you use your index finger to turn it) You’ll see both setting change as you turn the dial, so you can choose from any of the combinations available for the lighting conditions in your shot.


I specialize in exterior and interior photography, product photography, functions and corporate events. I accommodate Bed & Breakfast establishments, Guest Lodges, Wine Farms, Restaurants, Hotels and Conference Centres, from needing new and updated photographs for a catalogue or website, to something unique to hang in the reception or office.

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  3. 50km travelling included from our premises in Noordhoek.

ONLY: R980 offer valid until 28 February 2010


A clean desk is a sign of a cluttered desk drawer!

I hope that you have a fabulous 2010, and remember: Don’t overdo it- rather do it over!

Keep those cameras snapping, till next time.

Peter Haarhoff       

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