Road Works

Go Anywhere, Photography Anything

If you were asked “If you could go anywhere and photograph anything, where would you go and what would you photograph?” how would you answer? For me the first thing that comes to mind is getting on US Rt 1 and heading south. I’d stop when I got to a big marker that says “The Conch Republic, 90 Miles to Cuba, Southernmost Point Continental U.S.A. Key West, FL, Home of the Sunset.” That’s where I want to go.

From there I’d ride a bike around the island. I’d spend most of the day taking in all the places that I remember, not that they would be very familiar with all the time that has past since the last time I was there. As the day is drawing to a close I would head to Mallory Square and celebrate the sunset.

What would I most like to photograph? The sunset and everyone celebrating it. I remember standing in the crowd watching the performers do their acts and watching the boats sail back and forth in the golden light at the end of the day. What a great way to spend some time before doing the Duval Crawl! What’s the Duval Crawl you may ask, I’ll save what for another time!

Photography – A Love-Hate Relationship

Whether you are a keen amateur or a professional photographer you love photography. Photography is easy to love and hate at the same time. Below are a few observations of the love-hate relationship most photographers have with photography at some point.

We love those images of early morning light but we hate setting our alarm clocks for 4am.

We love getting an image in our minds and hate the fact that it will take 27 layers and countless hours in to make it a reality.

We love the amazing images of the Milky Way but hate that there is so much light pollution that we can’t make those images in our backyard.

We love big sensors but hate the file sizes.

We love all the lenses and gadgets we buy but hate that we can’t afford a sherpa to carry it all.

We love going on vacation but hate that we have to bring our family.

We love the creative things we do as photographers and hate when someone says “You must have a great camera.”

We love buying new cameras and hate knowing that the next generation of camera is already in the final phase of development.

We love being out in the natural world but hate that there is no outlet to recharge a flat battery.

We love seeing a great sunset but we hate not being able to stop and park right when we see it.

We love images made in the vast wilderness and hate that a hotel is not within walking distance.

We love being creative and making images but we hate that things like work, family commitments and hunger get in the way.

We love finishing that image and hate is when we realize that the internet is down so we can’t upload it to several social media sites.

We love spending time getting an image to look just right in post processing but we hate that monument of realization that we haven’t saved our work in two hours just when the software decides it’s going to crash.

We love driving into the city to make images at night and we hate that the connector plate for our tripod is sitting on the desk at home.

We love all these things and so much more about photography but we hate that there is only one place that we can be at any given moment so get out when you can and know that a day with your camera beats a day in the office every time!

Every Now and Then You Will Be Rewarded

Until one Saturday last month, July 26, 2014 to be exact, I had never attempted to photograph the Milky Way. I have seen some great photos online but I had never gone out and figured it out for myself. I had been thinking about getting out and photographing the Milky Way for some time. I did some research on what other photographers had done so I was ready to get out and give it a try. I figured I would set it up as a Meetup for the Night and Low Light Photography Group. As the day got closer the weather reports called for various possibilities of rain and overcast. On the day of the Meetup the weather report called for partly cloudy skies with 20% chance of rain. Not bad odds and as it turned out, very nice because of a storm that came through. This is a composite of five images made while the storm was approaching.

Storm Clouds and Lightning
Evening Storm

I was the last one standing out in the storm and I only left when the rain came. Everyone else was in their cars and we all sat hoping the rain would let up. Most got tired of waiting for the rain to stop and the skies to clear so they left. Of the group that started there was only three left including me once the rain stopped. After the rain stopped the skies did clear and the Milky Way did make an appearance. I got out and got set up again and here are some of my first attempts to photograph the Milky Way.

Milky Way with the lights of Harrisonburg, VA.

Milky Way with a few clouds.

Milky Way with a single cloud.

I must admit that I almost left before the skies cleared. I knew that I had a 3 hour drive home but I’m glad I stayed. I learned a few things from this outing (I’ll share that in a post at in a day or two). Most of all, something that was reinforced here, every now and then you will be rewarded for your patients.

f8 and be there!

“f8 and be there!” Wegee (Arthur Fellig) and Galen Rowel both gave this advice about making great photographs. One was a press photographer New York City and the other climbed mountains to get his images but they both had the same philosophy, if you aren’t there you can’t make the photograph. Something similar has been used by different photographers for many years. “f11 and hold still” is the advice Walker Evans gave. It’s now different now then when any one of these great photographers said. Be there or you won’t get the photograph. So where does that leave each of us?

Well, it’s simple really, get out there! The more photographs you make the better you will get. You have to or you will give it up. I think that those who eventually give it up and stick to making snap shots are those that didn’t take the time to learn from their successes. They got bogged down in their mistakes. Learning from your mistakes can be easy, if the frame is dark then the exposure was wrong, simple enough. But what about those perfectly exposed happy accidents? We all have them but how many of us learn from them?

One of the great things about digital photography is Exif information. Your camera saves the data about how your camera was set up when you made that photograph. Unless you erase this information, and I don’t recommend you do, it is saved with your photos forever. Twenty years from now you can look back and see exactly what went right when you made that image. So I recommend that you not only learn from your mistakes but more importantly learn from your successes! You have all the Exif info you need from both! Get your camera, make some photo, good and bad, so you can learn to improve your photography skills.

f8 and be there… because if you aren’t there who is going to make that photograph?

Meteor Shower or Meteor Storm?

Tomorrow evening a meteor shower is predicted. That’s Friday May 23, 2014 for those who may read this years from now (I can dream can’t I?). The meteor shower might be so intense that it could be a meteor storm, whatever that is, but no one knows for sure. I’ve seen the odd shooting star but I have never seen a meteor shower. Well, in reality I have been out watching for a meteor shower but not much happened. Only a few brief streaks across the sky and nothing more. People have been asking how to make images of tomorrow’s event. Well here are a couple of post from this blog that might help:

15 Tips for Creating Star Trails

Prefocus for Astrophotography

To be honest there is plenty of information that you can find about how to photograph tomorrow’s meteor shower out on the inter webs. People have been asking about which setting they should use so here is a post by Ken Rockwell with some setting for photographing the Milky Way. In order to photograph the Milky Way you need to find a place what has little or no light pollution. A search will turn up several sites with maps showing where you might go to have far less light pollution than I have here at our house. Tomorrow night I will be out in the yard hoping to catch a few shooting stars and this is what I am going to try.

Moonlit Yard
Moonlit Yard

This is looking north in our yard the exposure for this one was 3 minutes, f5.0, ISO 100 (this is from a Point and Shoot by the way). I’m going for star trails and some shooting stars. A long exposure and widish aperture should be enough to allow the streaking meteors to burn a path through my images in the same way lights on an airplane burn a path through the night sky. Yes, there was a full moon on the night I made this images but tomorrow afternoon the moon will set at 3:15 p.m. and not rise again until 3:16 a.m. Saturday morning. If the night is very clear, which is predicted, there won’t be any clouds like the ones you see in this image. I’m looking forward to seeing what I get. I will be playing around with the exposure and I might have more than one camera going. At least one of them will be a Point and Shoot. I’m not too worried about the light pollution because I know we live in an area where I have no control over that. I will be in my yard, having fun, doing what I love, making images.

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