In a recent exchange with a long time friend. The words “I just want to be happy.”impacted me more than anything they had said during our long, often embattled, friendship. Those five words summed up the ultimate goal we should all reach for. For me personally, creativity and, to be more specific, photography are integral in being, and remaining happy. As photography has gone from a hobby to a job, and back to a hobby. I still hope to learn and grow. While I no longer think of things in terms of competition or being the best. (Believe me. I never came remotely close.) I hope to achieve things that never seemed possible. In the end, photography is one of the most important keys to my happiness.
As the weather gets warmer I hope to further explore my love for night photography, long exposure and the endless search for light. The image below was taken on Dolly Madison Blvd. at around 8:30 pm. There wasn’t nearly enough back and fourth traffic, but I really enjoyed the moment and the lights coming from the buildings across the blvd. I’m quickly learning that I enjoy things when I’m not worried about mistakes.
Before returning home the other night, we stopped about a block from Dolly Madison Blvd. to capture the light coming off the buildings across the way. Throughout the freezing winter, I’ve collected countless ideas and places where I’d like to experiment with night photography and long exposures. With the warmth of Spring upon us and my wife’s willingness to stand idle, I was left to my own devices.
Now that the temperature is rising. I’m looking forward to visiting the many places I’ve mapped out to take pictures. For now, though. I’m staying close and shooting what I can. In my prior post, I went out a bit too late to catch the rush hour traffic that passes our building each night. It’s been a while since I’ve delved into long exposures and night scapes. I’m looking forward to the days, weeks, and months to put those ideas to work.
Last night was the first in recent memory when snow didn’t blanket the earth and, the temperatures raised above freezing. Not that I don’t care for an arctic climate. It’s just that long exposures require a bit of waiting. Something I find difficult when every inch of my body is trembling and my fingertips are giving the rest of me dirty looks. Though I might have picked a bad time and place to capture the lights of passing vehicles, it felt good to step out and capture some long exposures.
When we headed out today, I made sure to bring my camera, tripod and recently surfaced remote. Knowing that running errands has become an all day thing for us. I knew that by the time we arrived home, it would be dark. Me being somewhat obsessed with night time photography and how beautiful capturing the available light in the night sky can be. I asked my wife to stop a few feet from the garage and let me do my thing. Both shots were taken at f22 on a 30″ timer. The top image was taken with a 200 ISO.The second (or bottom) image was shot at 100 ISO.
As we returned home from Baltimore, I asked my wife to stop the car just a few feet before entering the garage. If I wasn’t going to ask that she indulge me in another photography detour. I might convince her to stop for just a moment for me to try to capture a moment that I’ve been talking about more and more over the last couple of weeks. Knowing that we were just a few feet from our destination and being somewhat overcome by an enthusiasm equal to that of a just adopted dog on a ride back to his/her new home. She agreed and even left the car to see what all the hub bub was all about. As someone who has become obsessed with night photography and long shutter releases. The walkway that takes you from the front of our condo to the back was all the inspiration I would need.
I can’t begin to tell you how often I’ve wanted to pull the car over to spend an hour or two taking pictures. Knowing what my wife’s reaction will be, I keep my mouth shut and my enthusiasm in check. That said, there are moments and opportunities that I can’t pass on. Knowing how protective my wife has become and my not wanting to be made fun of, due to my obsession. I’ve been forced to try new things.
The other night was a perfect example as we were on the final leg of our trip back to the hotel. The colors and shapes in the sky caused by the setting sun were off the charts. (My favorite time of the day to photograph landscapes.) With no filters or flash and no intention of asking her to pull over. I adjusted my camera settings, leaned forward and took a few images to take home with me. I was somewhat surprised how well the images came out. With no reflection from our dirty windshield. I guess I found a temporary filter without actually looking of paying for one. Not bad. Not bad at all.
As time goes by, I find myself trying to wane off all automatic features offered on my camera. Shooting on Manual, AV, or TV has been the most rewarding educational experience I’ve had as a photographer. It’s helped me improve my composition skills while giving me complete control of my creativity. Manual focus, however, seems to have become my Achilles heel, especially, and almost exclusively, when it comes to night and low light settings. My focus here was the far-off Queen Anne Cell Towers, which have been an image I’ve attempted to take for some time now. At the same time, my attempts have rendered results both good and bad. It’s the sharpness of my manual focus that always seems to be the judge.
Looking at the shot below and being reminded that it was taken without the balance of my tripod makes me appreciate my growing sense of patience. I wholeheartedly recommend learning all the options your camera offers. Using those tools and getting off manual modes with not only help you grow as a photographer. It will also help you create your unique vision.
From afar Seattle is a beautiful city with a skyline to match. When we come upon the south or north side of the city, there’s always that feeling that we’ll be home soon. No matter the direction we’re coming from, there’s always the urge to take a detour, stop, and take a few pictures of the sunset or the onset of dusk. I’ve often found myself testing my wife’s patience with my child like excitement. I took these one night on our way home from Tacoma. Thanks to my wife for not leaving me on the side of the road.