Tag: night scenes

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Patience

My wife and I recently took a short trip to southern Virginia for a midweek get away. One of the areas we visited was Virginia Beach. Anticipating some picturesque photographic locations; I reviewed the Photographer’s Ephemeris to check both sunrise and sunset perspectives for an old fishing pier that jutted out into the Atlantic Ocean. For no reason other than I did not want to wake up early, I decided on a sunset photograph.

The weather that day started out as a partly cloudy, early spring morning. This gave me the distinct impression that the evening sky might just have a lot of color and provide the opportunity for a very nice photograph. That evening we drove to the beach and I got out to see where I should set up my camera and tripod. Since it was a somewhat cool evening only a few people were on the beach and I thought that I was very lucky to be here at this time with an unobstructed view. My subject was an old abandoned fishing pier that was quite weathered in appearance. I looked at several different compositional viewpoints and proceeded to take photos under the pier and looking towards the pier. By now, the sky was starting to look a little more threatening than it had earlier in the day and I began to think a rainstorm may come up and ruin my opportunity for photography. By now it was approximately 5 pm and sunset was slated for 7:30 pm; therefore, the Golden Hour would commence around 6:30 pm. Here are two of the photos shot after setting up.

Fishing Pier

Quiet Storm

The deteriorating weather encouraged me to return to the car with my camera and tripod. At first, the plan was to sit and wait but we were both getting hungry. It appeared that there would be sufficient time to grab a quick bite to eat and then return to the beach for the Golden Hour. So, my wife and I drove to a nearby seafood restaurant named Hot Tuna and were told by the hostess it would be approximately 15 minutes before we were seated at a table. After waiting about 15 minutes, I asked the hostess how much longer and she replied, “about another 15 or 20 minutes.” Now I was beginning to get quite worried that that we would not get back to the beach in time for any sunset photos. As I looked out the window the sky was turning very dark and within a few minutes it began to rain, and the wind began to intensify. I thought to myself that the evening for photography was pretty much finished!

Resigning myself to the fact my photography evening was probably finished the hostess finally came over and said our table was ready! The good news is the food was excellent. The bad news is, just as we started eating the rain stopped, the wind slowed down, and the sun drifted towards the horizon and began to light up the sky and clouds with the most beautiful colors! I couldn’t believe my terrible luck. We were not yet finished eating and the sky was filled with brilliant colors. I glanced at my watch and it was almost 7 PM. My wife encouraged me to go to the beach anyway and still try to take a few photographs. So, we paid our bill and ran out to the car and quickly drove back to the beach.

During the walk to the pier, the sky was getting darker, the sun was sinking more, and the sky was not quite as brilliant; but there was still some good color left. I set up my camera and looked through the viewfinder to focus on the pier and was unable to lock-in with the autofocus. I then turned on live view and attempted to focus in manual mode. After a few twists of the focusing ring it seemed that the pier was in focus, so I proceeded to take several photographs. My chimping was constant and the LCD screen gave me the impression that I had several good photographs. The histogram also looked good. I could hardly contain my excitement at having obtained some good sunset photographs.

Days later at home, I uploaded the photos to my computer and much to my horror none of the shots of the pier were in sharp focus and as result the photos were useless! There are two valuable lessons that came out of this experience for me. The first and most obvious one is to not leave your location until you have finished photographing the subject. I never should’ve left for the restaurant! The second lesson was that I needed to learn how to better focus in low light situations. Since then I’ve done some research and now have a better idea of how to handle low light situations with a wide-angle lens. Here is one of the photos I took that evening and you can clearly see how out-of-focus the pier is because of my inability to manage a low light situation.

Storm Clouds

As I’ve said before my purpose in blogging is to document my photographic journey to becoming a better photographer. This episode did not result in any great photographs, but I did learn some valuable lessons that should help me tremendously in the future. Please come back to see where my photographic journey takes me next. In the meantime, keep on shooting!

 

 

Blog Posts

Missing the Super Moon

This past weekend brought the super moon to our night skies. I decided that this would be a great photo opportunity. Now the hard part began or so I thought. Where would be the best location for a super moon photo shoot?

I live in the Washington, DC area, so there is no lack of photogenic locations, from the National Mall, Capitol Dome, monuments, museums, statues, Potomac River and the list goes on and on. It seemed to me that every other photographer in the neighborhood would be using these prime locations and one more photo from me would be a big dud! What was needed was a location that was not on anyone else’s photography location meter. How many of you, hobbyist photographers, have been in a similar situation? Lots of digital film but no clear idea of what to shoot or where!

After tossing out many possibilities, I did come up with a location that was attractive and accessible. More on that later. Now the problem was to determine where the moon was going to rise and would it be in the photo frame I wanted. There is a great app, Photographers Ephemeris, that is excellent for helping figure this part of the photographic puzzle. For those of you who have not used it, you give the app a location and it gives you the astronomical information you need. It is linked to Google maps, so you can see the location with the street view function. Here is a link to the site:

http://app.photoephemeris.com/?ll=38.930974,-77.001777&center=38.9310,-77.0015&z=17&spn=0.00,0.01&dt=20161115172600-0500

I proceeded to look up my intended site and gathered the necessary information. The app displayed a graphic projection showing where the moon would be located at the time I wanted to take the photos. I used the street view function in Google maps and it looked like I had a clear view of my potential super moon shot. I felt good that I had done my homework and was ready to take some great pictures. I suspect many of you have also felt good after researching photo sites.

As I was driving to the location, things began to fall apart. It was Sunday evening and the traffic was really, really bad. Now I was behind schedule. It seemed my GPS was routing me directly into traffic and road construction, a constant problem in the District of Columbia! Finally, I arrived at my well researched location and parked my car. Out came the camera bag, tripod and small chair I like to use. Off I went to the location that was in my notes. Shock and horror greeted me! There were big trees all over the place blocking my view. Those Google photos were either old or I had researched the wrong spot!

This location would not work. I crossed the street and there was a parking lot that I proceeded to use to set up my equipment. I took a few photos of my target and waited for the moon rise. Now another surprise, as the moon came up it was immediately apparent that I was not in the right location! Oh well, all I could do was take some photos of my subject and enjoy the evening alone with my camera.

The next day, I rechecked the app and found the mistakes I had made in setting things up. This was a lesson that I will not forget. Next time I will do a much better job. My suggestion to you is that you practice with this app and go to the sites to check whether you have calculated the position accurately for your photo shoot before you go on the actual shoot.

The location I selected was the National Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception on the campus of Catholic University here in Washington, DC. Here are a few of the photos from my evenings adventure. Enjoy!

National Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception

Photo taken just after sunset

National Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception

HDR image made from 3 photos

National Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception

Photo made 20 minutes after sunset

National Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception

The Super Moon is in the bottom right