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I love Action Camera customers. Without our customers, I would have never had the chance to photograph the best street festival I have ever been to so far in my life.

On the suggestion to head up to Nevada City for their annual Summer Nights Music and Art Festival, I ran home after work, grabbed my camera, jumped in my partner’s (Jason) car and hit the road.

Nevada City Summer Nights has been happening for 30 years. The festival occurs on three consecutive Wednesdays in July. It starts about 6pm and “runs” until 9:30pm. (We left much later because the entire downtown became one giant drum circle and we were jamming).

Leaving from Roseville, it took us about an hour to get to Nevada City. My customer did warn me to get there early to get a good parking spot. However, Jason and I did not get off work until 6pm. So, we really didn’t have a choice on ideal parking. Boy, was my customer right though. We probably parked a good three quarters of a mile away on a mountain neighborhood road. However, walks do not bother me at all and it gave me a chance to soak up the chill vibes that Nevada City was oozing. I became more excited as I started passing all kinds of beautifully dressed up people making their way downtown. I started to hear music, smell food, and see all kinds of “stage” type areas set up.

As soon as we got downtown, Jason and I had to pause and soak it all in. We saw everything from belly dancers, musicians, fire spinners, ribbon dancers to trapeze type artists. We soon realized how rich in street photography this festival was. We started clicking right away and never stopped. Here are a few of the images we were able to capture:


Every performance act we watched was amazing. There were times where we couldn’t shoot but only stare in awe of the talent we were watching. Every person we met had a smile on their face. The crowds were happy and full of joy. The vendors were unique and fun to talk to. The food and drinks were flowing and delicious.

After the performance acts ended, the crowd started to disperse. It seemed as if the night was wrapping up. We decided to walk one more time around the venue. I am so glad we did. As we turned the corner to walk back to the car, we heard whistles and drums starting to play. A impromptu drum circle had started jamming in the middle of downtown. The music was memorizing and the people were dancing. Yet again, we had more great photo opportunities.

After finding out that we were attending the last night of the festival, I instantly became sad I could not experience more until next year. We have marked our 2018 calendars and we will definitely be back for all three nights next year.

I cannot wait to thank the customer who recommended this festival to me. I am a strong advocate for shopping local and playing local. This was an awesome find! I suggest everyone should attend at least once in their lives.

We shot the Sony A7 Mk II with a 50mm lens.  We did not bring a flash or a tripod. Just a camera strap and back up batteries.

Street Photography can happen anywhere at anytime. I happened to be shooting with a lot of odds against me. I made a few mistakes. I didn’t think I needed any form of stabilization. I hate being tied down by a rig. However, a setting like this, with the beautiful action I was seeing, I should have been more stabilized. I would definitely recommend a monopod or tripod for shooting. I could have gotten WAY better fire spinner shots if I was on a tripod. Shooting in low light is tough. Here are some recommendations as far as settings go for hand holding shooting in low light.

  • Stabilize yourself
    • Bring your arms and elbows in as tight as you can and release the shutter on an exhale or inhale. Use walls, posts, fences, whatever to help you be steady.
  • Have a prime lens with a wide aperture. I had my lens opened all the way. Light was scarce and I needed it. I was at f/1.8 in all of the night shots.
  • Shutter speed varied for me because I wanted to drag some of the fire coming off of the fire spinners props. However, learn what shutter speed you can handhold in low light without getting blur and adjust from there.
  • Lower ISOs are better. Some of these low light pictures I was able to have at 16,000 with my full frame camera. But, the higher I went, the more noise I was noticing and I knew post processing was going to be “fun” .

I could have kept the noise in my photos down if I had stability. Even a monopod would have helped. Lessons are learned every time I shoot and I LOVE growing as a photographer. I hope to see some familiar faces at the next Nevada City Summer Nights Street Festival.

Thank you for reading!


Becky Cody