Last year I was in New York City on the hottest three days of the year. It was unbelievably hot and the only thing to do at night was to walk around Times Square in the pouring rain.
I should be used to the heat from Florida, but it was no easier. Nevertheless, the rain and lights created fantastic photo opportunities that are entirely different than those I get back home. A nice effect is how the rainwater creates a reflective sheen on the pavement.
Taking photos at night in a city is a matter of experimentation. With a camera, we have several choices to make. A wide aperture combined with a high ISO allows a type of street photography without a tripod. However, with a tripod, we can take longer exposures if we want to capture light trails. In this case, I just wanted to capture images of the scene without special effects. For me, the most exciting thing was watching people out having fun in the rain; which by the way, was what I was doing also.
After a rainy day last week the wind died down in the evening. When that happens, the water in the river becomes smooth like glass, which is the perfect time to take pictures. I made this near my home in Palmetto, just off the road next to the bridge.
This scene is an HDR image made of four frames with different exposures. By combining frames, the greenery and sun appear without either appearing blown-out. I use Aurora HDR from Skylum to process my HDR compositions. After mixing the frames, I usually make three or four additional adjustments to get it just the way I want it. I may also process it in Luminar which is another tool from Skylum.
This area is a little section by the river that few people notice. It’s next to a major road that thousands drive by each day. As for me, I believe a photographer should work close to home as a way to practice seeing the familiar with new eyes. Seeing something new in the usual, or looking at it from a different perspective is a useful skill at home and abroad. So if you happen to be driving to work and see me standing by the river, now you’ll know why.
I’m always looking for new scenes so capture and so once in a while I’ll go to the park in the middle of the day. I prefer the mornings and evenings when the light is softer, but being open to possibilities, even in the middle of the day, is a good idea. Showing up is half the battle, and once at a location, I’m open to interesting scenes to photograph.
For this photo, I was walking along a path that had a canopy of brush on either side. When some folks rode past on bikes, I noticed the tunnel effect and took a photo as they receded. It’s another variation on the leading line theme that’s so popular in photography.
This stretch of the path causes a little sensory deprivation because the sides are thick with growth and you can only see in two directions. That feeling was heightened one evening when I happened to be walking here as darkness closed in. The effect of being in a darkened tunnel caused my sense of hearing to become heightened. Before you know it, I could hear every little sound in the bushes. At that time of day, all the nocturnal animals begin to stir. It was no surprise that I started hearing sounds emanating from the brush all around me. My imagination started working in overdrive as I wondered what might pop out on the trail in front or behind me. Nothing happened of course, but that’s maybe why I decided to come back here in the middle of the day.
This image is another from the series I took while visiting Neal Preserve in Bradenton. The dry season is over, and thundershowers are now a regular occurrence until the end of summer. Water fills the ponds which in turn creates photo opportunities like this. Only a few weeks back this might have been bone dry.
The image is an HDR; it’s a combination of five shots of different exposures. Because I was shooting directly at the sun, I took exposures from -4 to 0. The software that I use, Aurora HDR, is smart enough to pick out the best from each frame to combine into one. Then I use the sliders and masking techniques to adjust the saturation, shadows, and highlights. After a while, it started to have a look and feel I was trying to uncover.
Processing a photo is like polishing a stone, you work at it until it shines. That’s a simple analogy but aptly reflects the process. So often I’ll look at the raw photo that I have sitting in my library and think to myself it has little or no potential. But then, perhaps out of curiosity, I begin working on it and sometimes, I get a real gem. Not always, but enough times to keep me coming back for more.
Here is a shot I took last year on my last night in Barcelona. I was “stuck” there while a Hurricane passed through my home in Florida. It’s not something I’d wish on anyone, but as long as we were stranded, I could think of no better place to be. Barcelona has a unique energy to it, and it’s super easy to pass the time.
In a city like this, people are out walking and socializing late into the night. It’s fun to be in the middle of it all while taking photos. For whatever reason, nighttime street photography is something that gets my creative juices flowing. There is something about the lighting that changes the mood completely.
For this scene, I selected a particularly gritty looking corner. The idea is to use the light and leading line to draw the eyes across the image from left to right and into the busy intersection. This type of lighting reminds me of scenes from movies; it gives me an appreciation for good cinematography. In another life, I think I might spend my time here making film noir type movies.
Niel Preserve in Bradenton borders the intercoastal waterway. The boardwalks allow you to walk through and above the thick brush and mangroves. From a photography perspective, the perfect time to come is just after the rain and right before sunset. That way the clouds accent the natural elements and help set the mood.
However there is one minor problem, the mosquitoes are thick as thieves. And they also love this particular time of day, perhaps as much as I do. They are quite active after the rain; so when I arrive, I typically spray myself down with a generous portion of repellant. That way the photographer and bugs keep a respectful distance and everybody gets along.
The path in this image is a classic leading line. With our eyes and imaginations, we follow the trail and perhaps feel it leads to a safe place. That is the central principle behind this image, and it should be convincing as long as you don’t think about the bugs.
I posted an image of this building last week. Since then I pulled this older one out of my archives and reprocessed it. It’s the first image I took of the World of Science building, however since then I’ve made many more. I was using a Nikon at the time which I later upgraded to a Sony; not that the choice of the camera matters at all.
Here is my original take on it (https://www.flickr.com/photos/justenoughfocus/9109050970/in/dateposted/). I don’t reprocess images too often, but every once in a while I wonder what it would look like with newer software and updated sensibilities. My sensibilities are like software; they get upgraded every year or two as well.
Because of its shape and location by the water, there are no bad angles. You could make a study of this building from different perspectives which is what I’ve done over the years. With the amount of construction in Vancouver, it seems that even the view gets upgraded every other year.
I’m standing on the western tip of a peninsula called Emerson Point. It’s where I come to get away from it all, a little sliver of solitude.
That’s not me standing by the water, so apparently, it’s not complete solitude. There were about a dozen people here, and typically I’m not the only one with a camera. But having people around ensures I can place one in the frame to tell a story. In this case, the story is about a solitary figure watching the sunset.
Usually, when I frame a person in a shot like this, I try to ensure they are nondescript. In the movie industry, it’s known as atmosphere. I used to work in the back office of a movie studio, and an atmosphere person was paid twenty-five dollars a day. That’s not bad for just standing around; but in this case, I didn’t spend a cent.
The other day I stopped my car to capture the sun sinking across the intercoastal. The tides were low and the clouds high.
As I set up with my tripod, a gentleman approached asking if I knew anything about the barge; he thought that since I was taking pictures of it, I must know. But it was the first time I’d seen it. For me, it was nothing more than a foreground element that added interest to the scene.
According to him, the barge is a bit of a mystery, and he had just attended a homeowners meeting where it was a topic of discussion. Presumably, it’s violating some bi-law or perhaps cluttering the view. It seems the barge is a bit of a mystery and I was not helping at all. I expect the next time I drive by it will be gone. Nevertheless, I have at least produced photographic evidence to be used at the next meeting.