after dark

a dark rain’s gonna fall – b dylan

With the current thick cloud and heavy rain covering most of the United Kingdom, it’s hard to believe that way back in July 2016, the days and nights weren’t as hot and dry as they may now seem in retrospect. These shots from near midsummer were taken on what began as a dry evening but the rain soon started and rapidly increased. Despite my efforts to protect my camera with an umbrella, there is an obvious progression in the amount of water on the lens, resulting in some unexpected effects and proving that we shouldn’t let rain immediately rule out photography. Please scroll down to the end of the post to see the most extreme example.

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Thursday, November 17th, 2016 photography, Uncategorized No Comments

clouds across the moon – the ra band

I’ve been preparing all weekend to photograph the supermoon tonight. I cancelled my practice shots last night because of cloud but the forecast for tonight was for broken cloud with low chance of rain so I was hopeful. But the outturn was a sky completely covered in cloud so I went to bed, planning to try again tomorrow night.
 
Mandy woke me around midnight to say that the sky was largely clear, and asked if I wanted to get up to try photographing it. My first response was to go back to sleep but then I thought about my refusal to get up out of my sleeping bag in my tent to see the dawn over Ayers Rock back in 1980. Next I remembered how glad I was and have been ever since that my Dad woke me in July 1969 to watch the first moon landing.
 
So I changed my mind, got up, dressed and went outside to find lots of wispy cloud speeding dramatically in front of the moon. And also discovered that my tripod wouldn’t allow me to tilt the camera steeply enough to capture the moon that high in the sky. It would have been better to catch the moon nearer the horizon, shortly after moonrise, which today was around 16:40. It’s due to set around 06:40 tomorrow (i.e. in about five and a half hours) but I’m not going to wait up that long.
 
So, it’s back to the option of trying again early tomorrow evening (moonrise around 17:24). At least I got a couple of atrocious handheld shots to establish a rough idea of exposure length – around 1 second, (at f16 on 100 ISO), though the article I’d read online had led me to expect around 1/125 or 1/250 at f11, so I’m regarding tonight’s experience as useful practice.

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Tuesday, November 15th, 2016 photography No Comments

mysterious dark despite a full moon

My most recent after dark expedition followed a day of rain but the evening was dry and unexpectedly(on my part) coincided with a full moon. There were even patches of clear sky, and as the evening wore on the bright moonlight mixed with other light sources to create an interesting jumble of types of light. I wasn’t able to capture the moon in its full glory, which raises questions of how best to achieve that.

I kept to a limited area, covering ground I’d explored on a previous expedition, but I still enjoyed it and saw new aspects. Some narrow spaces managed to escape the bright moonlight and thus retain their mysteriousness.

after_dark-7  after_dark-2  after_dark-1 I was intrigued and amused by some mannequins in the window of Zara that appeared to be folding their arms disdainfully and looking down their noses at me. Perhaps I was subconsciously remembering old episodes of Dr Who, but I also remembered one of my first tasks at The Potteries Museum and Art Gallery was to help to dismantle a display in the decorative arts gallery which involved carrying ‘female’ mannequins. They were awkward to carry without holding them in ‘intimate’ places which I found embarrassing, much to the amusement of the female curator. So my response to the mannequins in Zara was strong, but I was pleased with the resulting shots:

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Thursday, October 20th, 2016 photography No Comments

a creative year

I’m giving 2016 a theme: a creative year. My focus for the year is to: develop creative skills.

I’n recent months, I’ve posted the results of my night photography expeditions, and I plan to continue these, branching into experiments with light painting.  In addition to photography, I’m keen to extend my ukulele playing, and I’ve arranged to start in a community music workshop that meets on Saturday mornings in Duxford. I’m also looking at other creative skills: drawing, painting and coding.

Prompted by a post on the Trello blog, I’ve created a Trello board for specific goals and tasks to help me focus on developing these creative skills.

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Thursday, January 7th, 2016 coding, creativity, drawing, music, photography 1 Comment

comberton duck pond and beyond the infinite

It’s not quite slit scan, but while I photographed the village duck pond on my way home from my most recent night photography expedition, I tried zooming in/out while I held the shutter open:

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Sunday, January 3rd, 2016 photography No Comments

christmas fun fair

Thanks to the distractions of Christmas and New Year, it’s taken me a while to process the photos I took of the Christmas fun fair on Parker’s Piece, but here they are:

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Saturday, January 2nd, 2016 photography No Comments

….these just in….

In my recent expedition on Sunday evening, I deliberately avoided photographing the front elevations of famous buildings, but in doing so, I’ve got a series of more or less anonymous shots that leave me feeling underwhelmed. That’s a shame because I enjoyed the experience and I intend to repeat it but there are lessons to be learned for next time (see below).

Some of the later shots have water droplets on the lens catching the streetlights and creating starbursts, lens flare and other unwanted artefacts.
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  1. Be ready to pack everything away discretely so I can nip into a pub to use the toilet.
  2. Take an umbrella to hold over the camera.
  3. Shallow depth of field doesn’t look good in low-light images, so use a narrow aperture.
  4. Take the flash gun and long cable for off-camera fill-in lighting.
  5. Take a torch to experiment with light-painting.
  6. Take more time – don’t be in a hurry to get home (see point one).
  7. In the darker areas, keep the shutter open on Bulb setting, and try longer exposures.
  8. Experiment with photographing people.

 

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Wednesday, November 11th, 2015 photography No Comments

another safe return

Sunday evening is still a good time to take photographs in Cambridge after dark, but because the sun set so much earlier than on my last foray, there were a lot more people in the streets. That’s not a problem, but I found myself taking a lot of shots from a low viewpoint, with my tripod set as low as it goes, so I had to keep a look out for people coming round street corners and potentially tripping over me or the tripod. Still, it meant that I chatted briefly to a few people and, by sticking mainly to the streets, rather than the river, there was more available light on this expedition, so my longest exposure was 30 seconds compared to eight minutes last time. I tried a variety of apertures this time, to see how a short depth of field looks in low light photographs, and the wider apertures, of course, reduced the exposure times. The whole trip, taking about sixty shots, was over in three hours and that was mainly because I covered a lot of streets.

I managed to take all of the shots that I’d planned, but I suspect, without having seen the others yet, that the unplanned shots are more interesting. A session of downloading and processing in Lightroom beckons.

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Monday, November 9th, 2015 photography 1 Comment

poppies

Continuing the theme of low-light photography, I cycled to the next village to take some shots of poppies at twilight.

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Saturday, June 27th, 2015 photography No Comments

the results are in…

I’ve imported my Cambridge After Dark photos to Lightroom and processed them as required, which wasn’t much, mainly slight adjustments to the exposure, and selected a few for publishing:

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That was a fun expedition, and the start I’m sure of a new hobby.

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Wednesday, June 10th, 2015 photography No Comments