Photo #18: Caught in the Light

Photography, in it’s essence, really is all about light. The art of the photograph is the art of finding, using and manipulating light to produce a pleasing image.

Sometimes it’s illusive, and other times, deceptively simple.

There’s a four way stop at the top of a hill, not far from where I live. I decided to go up there this evening, to capture some timed exposures of the cars on the road. Things did not go as planned. I parked the car, got out the camera and tripod, and walked to the intersection. The speed limit through this area is slow, it’s well lit and there are plenty of crosswalks, and sidewalks on all sides of the road, so it’s a perfectly safe place to walk.

However, I soon discovered, the view from the street is not the same as the view from the sidewalk. Lightpoles and street signs blocked my shot, no matter where I set up the camera. I tried from every corner of the intersection, but could not get a good line down the road. I realized that to get the picture I wanted, I would have to stand in the middle of the road, and there was no way I was going to do that. Traffic was light enough to easily cross the street, but there was still a steady stream of cars going through the intersection.

Then my camera battery died. I thought there was a fresh one in the bag, but I had left it on the charger in the house. Realizing the shot wasn’t worth the effort, I packed up my gear, got in my car and headed back home.

On the way, I noticed a tree, now leafed out, lit by a streetlight. Its leaves were a soft green against the black sky. I thought that would be a pretty cool image. It just so happens there are big trees and streetlights in front of my house, and the trees have new leaves on them. So I set up the camera on the tripod on the front steps, and took a few longer timed exposures of the lit branches. I tried several different spots, careful to edit out the streetlights themselves, and any background buildings or lights.

I was rather pleased with the result:

Photo #18

Photo #18: Caught in the Light

Tech Details:
Equipment: Sony NEX-5R, 18-55mm standard lens, tripod.
Image: 30 sec exposure, f/6.3, ISO-100.

Photo #11: Twilight Skyline

Today was another day on the water. This was a lake I’d never been to, much larger the one where I usually hang out. I brought along my camera, hoping to find something to photograph.

There were tons of little black ducks at the lake and along the shore. When spoke, they took off, literally running across the water while they flew just above it’s surface. I really wanted a picture of these little guys. I affixed the telephoto lens to my camera, selected shutter priority, set a fast shutter speed, and walked down to the shore. Unfortunately, the ducks had all fled from the boat launch, and weren’t coming back.

So I set out across the lake on my kayak, hoping the ducks would still be there when I got back.

I didn’t take my NEX with me on the paddle. I’m a little nervous about losing it over the side of the boat. Instead, I took my Canon Powershot.

By the time I got back to the boat launch, the sun had set. It was far too dark to get a photograph of flying ducks. Not to mention, with all the boats coming in for the night, the ducks were no where near the shore.

Across the water, the St Louis skyline was visible, the lights coming on. My telephoto lens was still on the camera, so I walked over to the water’s edge, found an object to steady the camera on, and decreased the shutter speed. I was pleased with the results, but it was getting darker, so I went back to the car for the tripod.

It was darker now, requiring a longer exposure. 30 seconds, the longest exposure possible, yielded beautiful results. I was very happy with this low light photo.

I want to go back and get those ducks.

Here’s the skyline:

Photo #11: Twilight Skyline

Photo #11: Twilight Skyline

Tech Details:
Equipment: Sony NEX-5R, 55-210mm telephoto lens, tripod.
Image: 30 second exposure, f/25, ISO-100.