For years now, I’ve been obsessed with night photography and long exposure. Though heading into the night with my camera doesn’t suit me as well as it once did. I have been blessed with a relatively spacious balcony, oversized windows, and a roof deck open to me at any time of the day or night, with more and more time spent on the patio and the onset of after-dinner laziness keeping me from going up to the roof. I’ve been experimenting with using my windows as a sort of filter. I set up a shot that would test my manual focus skills and my patience in waiting for the shutter to open and close. Not to mention the amount of time it takes for the image to appear. Though not long by any stretch. It seems like forever when you’re just standing there waiting for something to materialize.
At the moment, long exposures and night photography are what is driving my passion as I still have so much to learn and mistakes to make. And as frustrating it may seem at times. Learning new things has always been and still is a driving force in creating any form of art.
Over the last week, I’ve spent a lot of time getting to know the features on my camera. Experimenting with long exposures and mapping out areas where I’d like to put my ideas to work. Being that the symptoms of my sorta/kinda diagnosis have consistently worsened in recent weeks and months. My wife has become warier of my jetting off in the wee hours of the night without her.
So one night, just before dusk. We drove down to Seattle’s International District, where I immediately realized why, when it comes to photography, it’s almost always better to go it alone. After passing up a half a dozen spots that she deemed unsafe. We settled for Dr. Jose Rizal Park. A nice place, but one I had taken pictures from at least a dozen times. From her continually telling me to move to spare people from having to simply sidestep me. To telling me where to focus and complaining about why I had chosen to take long exposures and her getting cold on a brisk June night. Needless to say, I did not have the opportunity to take many images or follow through with any ideas I might have had. Instead, I spent the ride home explaining camera settings to a woman who, more than not, refuses to take any pictures. Overall, Dr. Jose Rizal Park and the overpass that leads you there are great spots to capture the city of Seattle, I-9, the sunset and T-Mobil park, I highly recommend visiting.
As going out each night to capture light while using long exposures seems to be getting easier. zI quickly find myself wanting to experiment more as the results are impressing me less and less. Part of it might have to do with my wife insisting on accompanying me and getting a bit cranky over the time I spend. By now, I’m pretty sure she’s tired of me saying “One more and we’re done.” With that said, she’s been a great assistant. Below are a couple of images I captured just outside our lobby door.With my camera mounted on a tripod I had it set on full manual, including manual focus. My ISO was 100 f22 at ’30 second intervals.
Headed downstairs tonight to take care of some unfinished business. During the day this parking lot is filled with a combination of parked vehicles and ones coming off Rainier Ave. South in search of a good parking spot and some groceries. As I continue to shoot in manual mode, I’ve gotten back to explore my cameras many features to get as creative as possible.
If it were up to me, I’d be out there taking most of my images after or around dusk or just before dawn. They are, for me and I’m sure many others, the best times of the day. And while, through practice and understanding, I came to love long exposures and shooting in manual mode. While for may, the times of day mentioned are usually set aside for family or getting ready for a days work. It only makes those moments more special when you can slip away or coax a loved one away from their own down time to join you. On my second night I trade the balcony for the parking lot of our local bank. With my wife insisting on tagging along and knowing he lack of patience when it comes to certain things. I made and checked all my camera setting before we left. The images below were shot at 100 ISO F22 at ’30 second intervals.
As a attempt to maintain some or my remaining sanity and quell some of the boredom that has me counting the same commercials that air several times nightly within one half hour cycle of television. I find myself spending less and less time wondering why I own a TV and searching and finding more creative ways to spend my free time. Aside from keeping a chart to keep track of my activities, or lack there of. I’ve been doing a lot of writing, listening to music and delving into the growing list books I have yet to finish. Mosat importantly, I’ve decided to dust of my camera and return to my love of night scapes and long exposures. I took these two from my balcony Monday, just after midnight. (Oh, isn’t that officially Tuesday?) Regardless, I’ll most likely continue stepping out at night to take a few long exposures. Only time will tell.
When I left the home last night. I thought I had it all covered. Keys? Check. Wallet? Check. Camera with battery and card? Check. Tripod? Check. Off I went, as I drove to my nearby destination. After I parked and unloaded my vehicle. I realized that something was missing. Searching both my car trunk and my fading memory, I realized I left the tripods.release plate on the kitchen table. Disappointed yet undaunted, I tried to make the best of it. I found a nearby stoop to keep the camera steady while the shutter remained open. I took two shots, this being my favorite, before heading home in search of the missing piece. Surprisingly, the two images I did take came out pretty damn good.
As someone who’s always been in love with photography. I often find myself enamored with the styles and techniques I myself have yet to learn. With long exposures and night photography being a long time personal inspiration of mine. I felt extremely thankful when a friend and fellow photographer shared some easily applicable information with me. Being one who tends to crave the company of others as well as subjects to photograph. Time has taught me that time alone, solitude and the peace it often provides offer me more time to learn and grow. Something that almost immediately presents itself when working with long exposures Having only experimented with the concept on occasion over the last couple of weeks. I quickly realized the therapeutic rewards of these rare moments. As I stood there. The only time I really felt the least bit uneasy was when friendly neighbors stopped for a moment to say hello or if you’d believe it, to talk shop about gear. That hour or so where it was just me, my Canon 5D Mark III and my tripod was all the meditation one could ask for.
As the cars sped by on both sides of the concrete divider. I couldn’t help but think back to my earliest days on the Bowery standing just outside of CBGB’s. That short, yet treacherous dash from the curb of CBGB’S to the Bodega across the street was almost as risky as jumping in to a pit of raging fists occupying the real estate in front of the clubs stage. And just as I witnessed many enthusiastic participants knocked to the clubs floor. The number of pedestrians who never made it all the way across were enough to make one question how important that cold beverage really was.
Yet just as i left the nights event a few blocks south of my original haunt. I found myself setting up my tripod on that narrow slither of concrete known to many as a pedestrian divider. Having just recently been properly introduced to shooting long exposures. I was more than inspired to take what I’d learned to the busy streets of lower Manhattan.Crouching down, I quickly assembled my tripod and set it on manual. Waiting for the lens to close and complete the shot. I could feel the wind from the passing automobiles pushing me off my already unbalanced heels. Lucky for me. One shot, the one you see here, was all I needed. Using the little brains I seem to have left. I moved back to the sidewalk and on to Houston street to capture a few more shots before I headed home.
Realizing it was the fourth of the month and we had yet to pay the garage. We raced over with minutes left before a late fee would be added to the already pricy cost to house our vehicle. Though our attention was squarely placed on getting there before the strike of midnight. The layers of fog and downright ghostly spell our town had fallen under. Upon return home I quickly reached for my camera and headed back out. Though I have less than zero skills when it come to night photography. I felt I owed it to myself to at least try. The crisp night air and solitude provided a sense of tranquility I rarely experience. I find these little moments of peace to be priceless. It clears the mind while awakening the senses. Not bad if you ask me.