27. St Mary’s evening vigil, Nelson

St Mary's evening vigil, Nelson. 8.58pm, 9 July 2009

Here is another moonless image (see no. 24), lit only by inner city ambience. While waiting for the moon to rise I did a patrol of our neighbours’ property, as they were on holiday. It’s a big place we once co-owned (many years ago, before we moved over the fence), yet passing the old shed I saw its possibilities for night photography for the first time. Although north-facing, its location meant it would not be moonlit for many hours, so after assessing the considerable illumination from city lights, I thought to make a start here.

Exposure was f2.1 for 20 seconds on ISO 100, with the zoom on the Lumix LX3 set at 26mm (in 35mm photo terms). The clean colour on the figurine suggests a tungsten setting, although this is not recorded on the exposure metadata. Aided by a good light in the shed, I placed St Mary on a table next to a nest of old bicycles. The exposure indicates that the city lights (as seen in the window) were still three or four times stronger than moonlight – so waiting long hours for some direct rays would have been pointless anyway. Actually, in my old neighbourhood the proximity of street lighting on three sides restricted my moonlit home-and-garden photography to only a few shaded corners.

The blue sky on the right hand corner is explained by the moon having risen (but behind the house). The sky adds depth, while I like the texture of the corrugated iron and the prevailing colours of light blue and rusty red. The wisteria is bare in winter but beautiful in late spring. The Holy Mother is holding a bunch of roses. As I recollect she is about 40 cm high. We bought her in Bangkok, of all places, in a Catholic supplies shop. The Thais are very big on this sort of representation, be the figures divine, royal or simply revered: Buddhist, Hindu, Christian or folk.