Still day one of the workshop -night shot

The night shoot was amazing and still more frustrating…..
My workshop pamphlet had suggested a headlamp for the night shoot. Silly me, I thought it would be needed to find my way back to the car in the dark before sunrise or after sunset, so I assumed a good flashlight would do and then I promptly forgot to take it with me. It never occurred to me that it might be necessary to find the buttons on the camera in the PITCH DARK. Just add one more complication to finding the proper buttons and settings. It was noted that with practice I would be able to find the buttons and gizmos by feel. But my fingers were getting numb from the bitter cold wind blowing that night and I couldn’t see to get the shot focused. The wind probably didn’t help matters since I could feel it shoving me and the tripod around a bit.

Are we feeling the frustration level rising here? Welcome to the world of night shooting… 😯

That being said….. the following is the very first shot I managed. Keep in mind that this was taken in utter darkness other than a full moon and car headlights moving down the highway. It’s rather mind-boggling. You can just manage to see a small section of the Bixby Bridge (a postcard iconic landmark) at the very left edge of the image. I could barely see what I was pointing at.IMG_8963

For the photo wizards: ISO 1600 at 20 mm f/3.5 and a shutter speed of 30.0 seconds. Focus is utterly and tragically off. I think I was attempting to shoot in AV mode, though it might have been Manual. [And, yes Scott Marshall…. ye who taught me to watch for tilting horizons… I’m not even going to straighten this one up. Deal with it! 😉 ]

Just think, the shutter was open a full 30 seconds (count that off for the full effect), letting in all that light and letting the headlights paint their streak as they headed down the mountain. I didn’t manage a decent shot, but I think I remember how it was done and the next step will be to practice, practice, practice! Because this really does open up some fun possibilities. Of course, the logical thing to do would have been to set everything up before it turned totally dark, but that would have assumed I knew what I was doing… 😉

Another shot for a bit of comparison…IMG_8975

Half the shutter speed at a mere 15 seconds, it’s looking a bit more like the dark scene we were shooting. (ISO 1600 27 mm f/4.0) Still having trouble focusing. We were supposed to auto focus on the distant headlights and then switch to manual focus. Doing this with numb fingers and groping for the switch messed up the focus without a doubt. This is definitely going to take some more practice. Or did I already say that?

In case you missed it, I was having a great time except for the frustration I always experience when trying to learn something NEW! But it gets much, much better from here on out….. I promise 😀


35 thoughts on “Still day one of the workshop -night shot

  1. I’m sure night shooting is not the same in Oregon as it is in Socal (its definitely a lot colder)… but it does get cold at night here and all that you mentioned I’ve already encountered 🙂 What helped with night photography is manual focus, I set the focus manually and then let the long exposure do its magic.


    • This shot was taken in Big Sur…. way south of my usual location in Oregon and not all that far North of your territory.
      Do try to remember this was my first attempt and aside from the cold, there was the problem of finding something to focus on in the dark. Then again your eyes are a whole lot younger than mine…. 😦 I just need to put in some time and practice. In the meantime I mutter a lot about the learning curve. 😉


      • To get neat star trails you need really long exposures. I’ve done 30sec and I think one of a few minutes. The trails are not that spectacular (like we see in some published photos). It would have to be a really long exposure. There are great articles on time-lapse photography, and how to get star trails . . .

        . . . not something I plan to do until I retire.

        Those night shots surprised me a whole lot when I looked at them . . . until I remembered it’s sunlight. But, I’ve not done anything with just starlight and Milky Way light. Again, that requires really long exposure as there is a lot less light.


    • Thanks for the good grade! But it all happened on a natural high…. The amazing thing is that at this moment, it’s equally hard for me to imagine shooting that in the dark. I was shocked when I saw the outcome of that 30 second exposure.


      • You’re welcome…and the natural high must have been good, too. 🙂 And doing all of that stuff with 30 second exposures, etc, is outside of my sandbox right now, so I’ll just process it and try to remember to bring it out someday when it might be helpful…although I do understand it and what it does…while still finding it amazing, too.


    • But it’s all in good fun! What’s a touch of frostbite for such great rewards (even when out of focus!) I didn’t mention that I had a pair of the cool gloves with the exposed fingertips, but somehow they, too were left at the hotel. Sometimes I’m a slow learner….


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