White pointers at night, Appleby

White pointers at night, Appleby, Nelson. 7.33pm, 4 September 2017

The difficulty with low angles in night photography is mainly in composition – craning the body to see whatever’s visible in the viewfinder, after steadying the tripod, set as low as it can go. In long grass there’s also a lot of levelling and lining-up. Also necessary after plenty of rain is something to keep your bended knee dry, although in this case the matted grass itself did good service. Using flash to highlight close objects is unpredictable but I was fairly sure the stalks would overexpose – the desired effect. Mixed lighting is not difficult by moonlight, as long as your extra lighting is not too bright, or is only brief. Rating just 2 watts, moonlight is easily swamped by street or house lights.  

30 secs at f8; 28mm and ISO 2000

 

Share

Minor epiphany at Maitai

3028. Minor epiphany at Maitai

3028. Minor epiphany at Maitai, Nelson. 9.02pm, 25 November 2015

In valleys in summertime the evening can be well advanced before the full moon shows above the hills. To use twilight as well you’ll need to choose the evening just before the moon hits 100% full, when it rises before sunset. It can be fun to perch this lovely orb in various quirky ways, but the surprise is just how quickly – in a matter of seconds – the moon moves away from your careful line-up of picture elements, as I found here while wandering the Waahi Taakaro golf course in the Maitai valley.

As well as their cultivated landscapes and easy terrain, golf courses after-hours offer the night photographer something further – a generally safe setting. There’s only a small chance of stumbling into a ditch, of sudden intrusion, or of being run down by something or someone. Golf courses have their quiet corners, and often you can slip in the back way, across a stile somewhere along the boundary.

50mm; ISO 1250. 1/250th sec at f2. Hand-held; flash.

Share

Te Henui ti kouka, 1 & 2

2791. Te Henui ti kouka

2791 & 2794. Te Henui ti kouka in flower, by moonlight. 25 October 2015

Usually I try to avoid subtlety, but these two images a short interval apart demonstrate the use of flash. In the scene above – the steep flank of an old pa above the Te Henui in New Plymouth – the flash has a fill-in function but also highlights the central tree trunk. The image below gives away my vantage point, one of the two new (2013) footbridges on the walkway. Here the flash illuminates the railings but is not strong enough to highlight the background. It’s a startling shot but I prefer the straight one above. A perfect spring evening, it was quite still in the sheltered valley, with the rising moon waxing at 90%. This was our most enchanting pause on the walkway, one open to the moonlight and enhanced by the heady scent of the cabbage trees.

DSC_2794.16x10

28mm; ISO 500 & 1000. 30 seconds @ f5.6; @ f8.

Share

Tic tac toe: Your move

Sundown beefs, Kaihoka

Tic tac toe: your move. Golden Bay, 7 January 2012, 9.33pm

When they get bored with pasture, cattle can freely roam these dunes at Kaihoka, but it looked like these ones were pondering their next move in a game of tic tac toe. Taken after sundown, my flash has caught their eyes and added form to blackness. This effect is different from the red-eye syndrome of old party snaps, but I know not why. The half hour after sunset is an excellent time to mix light sources, while unusual adjacencies also add interest. The colour temperature was boosted for this series, to offset the cool twilight.

85mm, ISO 2000. 1/3s at f8. 10,000 deg K

Share

Autumn in the Maitai gloom

0973 Maitai twilight, Nelson

0973 Autumn in the Maitai gloom, Nelson. 5.11pm, 26 April 2015

 In late April a quick trip to the Maitai Valley, on the edge of the city, is much easier than the long road to central Otago (where great swathes of lovely poplars and cotoneasters are now gone from our favourite walk at Arrowtown). Although the light balance between flash and background above suggests twilight, this cameo was actually taken half an hour before sundown, in the pre-drizzle gloom of a heavy overcast. Flash is a crude instrument but then so is a hammer – and after a few attempts I felt I had it nailed.

50mm; ISO 250. 1/250th sec @ f7.1. Flash

Share

Yana by the Aorere, Golden Bay

0362 Aorere rivermouth, Golden Bay

0362 Yana by the Aorere, Golden Bay. 8.40pm, 4 March 2015

On a lovely late summer evening I took a break from the moonrise to ask Yana to pose as the highlight for this composition. Flash gives a solid block of colour, as expected. The river mouth is intentionally underexposed, while the fisherman is included to add some depth. My initial jpeg from the RAW file was disappointing and not at all faithful to the limpid tones of the original, so adjustments were made in post-processing. This scene was only a short walk from our accommodation at the Collingwood campground. The township is based on a sandspit but is more famous for its flammability.

28mm, ISO 500. 3 secs at f11

Share

Autumn birch, Eltham

2364 Autumn birch, Eltham

2364 Autumn birch, Eltham, Taranaki. 6.17pm, 4 May 2013

One early moonless evening I wandered a small block attached to a church camp, using flash in the deepening twilight. Balancing the light from two different sources often takes some doing, but I was happy by frame 3 on this occasion. I took this in colour, converting it later, then adding a warm colour highlight, a different process from duotone. Later I took some shots using a monochrome setting, and to my surprise although these other photos downloaded as B&W, when the frames were opened for the usual work-over – hey presto, they were all still in colour. Well, keeps the options open!

50mm, ISO 2000. 1/6th sec at f3.2. Flash

Share

Pukekura Park lights

9039 Pukekura summer lights

9039 Pukekura Park lights. 9.56pm, 22 December 2014

New Plymouth’s central park is not much fun to stroll through clutching a tripod, especially along with the evening crowds out to see the same lighting spectacle (and the free performances). So I left my ballast behind. This sort of photo is more effective in twilight rather than after dark, but on the other hand, flash is more dramatic on foregrounds. The colour changes on the spheres were rapid and uneven (in exposure terms) and as I did not want to hold up the company I took only a few frames, stopping down as much as I could. The golden glow is the fountain; the ducks did not register.

50mm, ISO 2000. 1/250th sec at f13. Flash

Share

Moon force attack, Waiwhakaiho

Moon force attack at Waiwhakaiho

9428 Moon force attack, Waiwhakaiho, 10.26pm, 5 January 2015

New Zealand flax again, plus full moon and scuds, in an image combining flash with background moonlight. To use flash in this way, start with aperture selection. This means finding the f-stop that fits your camera distance, as the flash has its own inherent shutter-speed. Then extend your actual shutter speed until your foreground/background balances out in a nice Goldilocks exposure (not too bright, not too dark). Unusual effects will show, for example, when your foreground sways in the breeze in the post-flash part of the exposure. The resulting slight double-image is just one more random element in long exposure photography, adding to its interest and creative potential.

85mm, ISO 2000. 1.3/sec at f9. Flash

Share

NZ flax with moonrise

9289 Flax with moonrise

9289 NZ flax with moonrise, Ahu Ahu Rd, Taranaki. 8.59pm, 4 January 2015

My previous post left out another great NZ silhouette, Phormium tenax, now in summer flower and shown here in only semi-, thanks to flash. Taken at a sheltered  location south of Oakura, one of the few north-facing beaches along the western North Island. The coast here is very walkable, as two footbridges link the Ahu Ahu, Weld and Timaru road ends with Oakura resort. To get the moon this size I used the long end of my zoom, and then self-timed the shutter to reduce shake (hand-held being quite marginal for this focal length). While big moons always mean big, telephoto lenses, the whopper moons often seen in popular media are invariably double exposures or superimpositions.

300mm, ISO 2500. 1/250th sec @ f8. Flash

.

Share

Winter roadside, moonlit mono

DSC_8301

8301 Winter roadside, moonlit mono. 10.32pm, 13 July 2014

I find myself more drawn to formalist compositions as I grow older. They are by no means easy to do, especially after dark. This one surprised me on a pleasant roadside. Intrigued by its depth, I used the last of my battery to highlight the foreground. In post-pro I have discarded the original colour elements, then chosen a brown and black duotone from a long list of possible combos. Digital duotone is “an imaging process that computes the highlights and middle tones in a black and white image, then allows the user to choose any color ink as the second color” (Wikipedia). In print, duotone (or tritone) is the best way to present half tone (B&W) fine art, and also historical photos.

28mm, 500 ISO. 15 seconds at f8. Flash

Share

292. Half moon with cricket song

Half moon with cricket song
Half moon with cricket song, New Plymouth. 9.20 pm, 22 March 2013

 Let us go then, you and I / When the evening is spread out against the sky /            Like a patient etherised upon a table  –  T.S. Eliot, The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock

28mm; ISO 2000. 5 seconds at f5.6. Flash

Share

287. Rising moon on Razorback

Rising moon on Razorback
Rising moon on Razorback, Taranaki. 9.14 pm, 27 February 2013

 All of us must indulge in a few small follies if we are to make reality bearable.  – Marcel Proust

28mm; ISO 2500. 30 seconds at f11. Flash

Share

275. My meditations, my musings

Maitai moonlight, Nelson. 10.08 pm, 28 November 2012

My meditations, my musings are never more enchanting than when I am able to forget myself.  –  Jean-Jacques Rousseau

NEWS: My 2013 Night Visions calendar has now sold out. The NIGHT VISIONS book is still available direct, at $40 post-free (signed copies, with 4 x greeting cards as a bonus). The book has had some favourable notices: “A unique, often eerie, new perspective” (D-Photo magazine); “Enchanting” (Nelson Mail); also in North & South magazine (November issue: “a bewitching mix of rural and urban landscapes”).

85mm; ISO 2000. 5 seconds at f8. Flash

Share

270. Among mysteries

Among mysteries, New Plymouth. 9.09 pm, 31 October, 2012

Those who are willing to be vulnerable move among mysteries.  –  Theodore Roethke

50mm; ISO 2000. 15 seconds at f9. Incandescent light balance; flash

 

Share

254. Life was Beauty

Life was Beauty. 12.49 am, 26 August 2012

   I slept, and dreamed that life was Beauty; I woke, and found that life was Duty.  –  Ellen Sturgis Hooper

50mm; ISO 2500. 30 seconds at f16. Flash

 

 

Share

253. The case for magic realism

The case for magic realism, Taranaki. 12.57 am, 26 August 2012

There is no substitute for moonlight and kissing.  –  Barbara Cartland

85mm; ISO 2000. 70 seconds at f16. Flash

Share

241. Darkness on the Old Mountain Rd, Taranaki

Darkness on the Old Mountain Rd, Taranaki. 6.51 – 6.56 pm, 9 July 2012

To be exempt from the passions with which others are tormented, is the only pleasing solitude.  –  Joseph Addison

Driving north in the early evening, I paused on a 2 km disused section of the old highway, quaint now for its narrowness and rustic one-lane bridge. The night was cold and moonless, with a constant hubbub from the nearby highway. No one came by while I tussled with the split focus (between initial flash and the following l-o-n-g exposure) of gate/mountain with a telephoto.

I’m surprised to see Mt Taranaki lit up by the street lights of surrounding towns, but knew my own parking lights would contribute to the gate’s illumination. I was on my way back to New Plymouth, but after a long day on the road was too cold & weary to attempt more than this.

85mm; ISO 2500. 335 seconds (5.5 mins) at f11

 

 

Share

240. Ratana church, winter twilight

Ratana church, winter twilight. 5.42 pm, 4 July 2012

The illiteracy of the future will be ignorance not of reading or writing, but of photography. –      László Moholy-Nagy (Weimar photographer, 1926)

Oh for a rising moon behind! But there was heavy overcast – and anyway, the moon was yet to rise. By the way, a big moon rising after dark is past full and on the wane – not many people seem to know that.

This is the founding church at Ratana Pa, near Wanganui. Photography is not allowed within the gates, but as they are quite a feature in themselves I was content to take this from outside them. It was that time of evening when flash balances well with a longer exposure.

28mm, ISO 2000. 2 seconds at f16. Flash

Share

230. On the way to Turtle Cove

On the way to Turtle Cove, Golden Bay. 5.16 pm, 3 June 2012

Twilight photography is unfortunately neglected; what may be drab and uninteresting by daylight may assume a magnificent quality in the halflight between sunset and dark.  – Ansel Adams

28mm; ISO 2000. 1/200th sec at f5. Flash

Share

228. Evening view from Westhaven Retreat

Evening view from Westhaven Retreat, Golden Bay. 8.53 pm, 1 June 2012

I’ve had a lot of trouble in my life – most of which never happened.  –  Mark Twain

28mm; ISO 2000. 30 seconds at f13. Flash

Share

227. Waxing moon, Westhaven

Waxing moon, Westhaven Inlet, Golden Bay. 6.48 pm, 1 June 2012

How much more grievous are the consequences of anger than the causes of it. 

 Marcus Aurelius

28mm; ISO 2000. 15 seconds at f8. Flash

Share

226. Many ways to be free

Many ways to be free. 6.18 pm, 17 May 2012

There are many ways to be free. One of them is to transcend reality by imagination, as I try to do. – Anaïs Nin

50mm; ISO 2000. 15 seconds at f8. Incandescent light balance

 

Share

213. Suva Capetown by the stars

Suva Capetown by the stars, Kaiteriteri, Nelson, 8.09 pm, 4 April 2012

It is good to have an end to journey towards; but it is the journey that matters in the end. – Ursula K. Le Guin

85mm, ISO 2000. 30 secs at f7.1. Flash

 

 

 

Share

211. Ebbtide evening, Marahau

Ebbtide evening, Marahau. 10.16 pm, 2 April 2012

Wise sayings often fall on barren ground but a kind word is never thrown away.  –  Arthur Helps

28mm; ISO 2000. 6.6 secs at f10. Incandescent light balance; flash

Share

206. Taranaki evening, young moon

Taranaki evening, young moon. 6.17 pm, 3 August 2011

My imagination makes me human and makes me a fool; it gives me all the world, and exiles me from it.  –  Ursula K. Le Guin

28mm, ISO 2000. 1 sec at f11. Flash

 

Share

203. Faux twilight at Paturau

Faux twilight at Paturau. 9.27 pm, 10 December 2011

All living creatures are making a great endeavour, struggling, to attain real everlasting happiness.  –  Srila Narayana Maharaja

Happiness through illusion? This actually is twilight, but stirred with the flash for foreground and then thoroughly shaken in post-pro. The original sky is very blue because I was trying a tungsten light balance. However I wanted something more upbeat and striking, since achieved by applying desaturation, dodging and hue manipulation to the RAW image .

At least the sheep are genuine; the hill profile is beyond the ridgeline by some distance. I like this as a simple but interesting composition, suitable for all ages.

85mm, ISO 2000. 1/2 sec at f5. Flash

 

Share

198. Moonrise with alpacas

Moonrise with alpacas. 9.20 pm, 8 February 2012

The greater part of our happiness or misery depends on our dispositions and not our circumstances.  –  Martha Washington, American First Lady.

85mm, ISO 320. 5 secs @ f5.6. Col balance 8330 deg K

 

Share

197. The right moment, Te Hapu

The right moment, Te Hapu. 1.10 am, 9 February 2012

Blend a little foolishness with your wisdom: it’s nice to be silly at the right moment. –  Horace

28mm, ISO 2000. 30 secs at f8. Flash

 

Share

196. The best relationship, at night

The best relationship, at night. 10.17pm, 8 February 2012

Health is the greatest gift; Contentment the greatest wealth; Faithfulness the best relationship.  –  Buddha

28mm, ISO 2000. 123 secs at f22. Flash

Share

189. A fool sees a tree

A fool sees a treeA fool sees a tree, by moonlight. 11.49pm, 10 January 2012 

A fool sees not the same tree that a wise man sees.  – William Blake

28mm, ISO 2000. 30 secs at f13. Flash

Share

184. Start every day with a smile

Start every day with a smile. 9.29pm, 7 January 2012

Start every day with a smile and get it over with.  –  W.C. Field

85mm, ISO 2000. 1/13th sec at f7.1. Flash, 10000 deg K

 

Share

181. Twilight gathering, North Head

Twilight gathering, North Head, Golden Bay. 9.31pm, 7 January 2012

Do not dwell on the past; do not dream of the future.

Concentrate the mind on the present moment.  –  Buddha

85mm ISO 2000. 1/10th sec at f5.6. Flash at 10,000 deg K

Share

175. Mokau twilight

Mokau twilight. 6.54pm, 20 September 2011 

There is no duty we so much underestimate as the duty of being happy.

Being happy we sow anonymous benefits upon the world.   –  Robert L. Stevenson

85mm, ISO 2000. 1 sec at f16. Flash

Share

170. Some colours of spring

Some colours of spring. 10.11pm, 8 September 2011

Experience is the comb that nature gives us when we are bald.  –  Anon

Another split focus, single frame experiment; the hairdresser’s quote is suggested by the full-frontal flash on the flower stalks. For the rest of the exposure the lens barrel has been swiftly rotated, moving the focus closer to infinity. This gives reasonable definition to the distant magnolias and a short star trail – but the depth of field is false and not otherwise possible at this close range with a telephoto.

This is the last I will show of the magnolias. The tree of course is now in full green leaf.

85mm, ISO 2000. 30 seconds at f8.

 

Share

169. Fern and farm, autumn night

 

Fern and farm, autumn night. 8.58pm, 19 May 2011

Great works are performed not by strength but by perseverance. –  Samuel Johnson

Taranaki is so wet that ferns thrive even out on their own, as here on farmland close to town. The extra lighting is from a penlight, and far more subtle than in my previous post. Ambient lighting is a mix of moonlight and the distant city.

Torchlight is more selective than flash, but getting the desired coverage can take some doing, in terms of how long you run the beam over the various foreground elements. I would’ve liked the lily’s supporting role to have featured more strongly. The good depth of focus tells you the lens is a wide angle one.

28mm, ISO 2000. 30 seconds at f5.6

Share

167. Plan for the future

 

Plan for the future. 8.23 pm, 13 October 2011

Plan for the future because that’s where you are going to spend the rest of your life. –  Mark Twain

But why plan for the future when it’s already here? While waiting for a late moonrise I saw this spectacle, looming above the top floor of a parking building. Flash-assisted in deep twilight, the scene is straight from Pixar – add your own morlocks.

I selected the highest possible light balance to offset the bluish twilight. The lamp standards are a feature of this elevation but they stayed off this evening. I’m uncertain what the flimsy structure behind houses; do the double doors give a clue?

85mm, ISO 1000. 30 seconds at f16. Flash, colour temperature 10,000K

 

Share

166. Frail mystic ships, Port Taranaki

Frail mystic ships, Port Taranaki. 7.08 pm, 10 September 2011

Time is the reef upon which all our frail mystic ships are wrecked. –  Noel Coward

Here you see no ships nor port, but a curious effect of some tricky experimentation. Changing the focus manually during exposure gives two planes of focus! For technical reasons this works best on telephoto, using flash before a time exposure. The shadows are really silhouettes after the flash, where the flax stirred in the breeze.

The island is Moturoa and the glow behind it is explained by lights from a ship at anchor.  Harbour lights illuminate Moturoa; although the moon was up it was quite hazy. The quote is appropriately theatrical.

85mm, ISO 2000. 30 seconds at f16. Flash

Share

162. Kapiti moonlight: Bright shore

Kapiti moonlight: bright shore. 10.53 pm, 17 February 2011

Live as long as you may, the first 20 years are the longest half of your life.  – Southey

A composition in classic thirds. The quote is personal, referring to my first return to Waikanae Beach since spring 1976, with some ardent memories attached. Youthful impressions can be deepest on the sand!

Bright shore means a flash shore; moonlight being as feeble as the surf here, you can’t stop the waves in-frame by the wan moon. However a good mix of natural and artificial light occurs when a long shutter follows the flash, allowing the moonlight to accumulate on the sensor. The surf then is too blurred to feature.

28mm, ISO 2000. 30 seconds at f11. Flash

Share

155. Three lights at Paritutu

Three lights at Paritutu, New Plymouth. 9.36pm, 10 September 2011

I have memory, which is the idiot’s talent. –  Francisco Umbral

The three lights are moonlight (at sea), nearby industrial lighting and flash for the foreground. This shot has a cool feel because the incandescent (tungsten) setting was used to cool the light on the slopes of Paritutu. The flash is just the one on the camera, and testing the exposure is also simple – flash it and see. Then add your moonlight shutter.

This was my last effort for the evening because a fire engine turned up, red lights flashing, looking for a fire. I wonder, was it my flash gun or some random fireworks from the summit that brought it out?

28mm, ISO 2000. 30 seconds at f10

Share

149. Long life, winter crescent

Long life, winter crescent. 6.09 pm, 3 August 2011

Aging seems to be the only available way to live a long life. –  Daniel F. E. Auber

Using the wide angle with flash at twilight is easier than the telephoto because the former has better depth of focus. Aperture selection balances the two light sources, the flash burst with the longer background fill. Flash impact is otherwise limited by ISO choice, or by adjusting distance from your foreground interest. The foreground was against the light so had no ambient detail; without the flash it was a vast silhouette.

28mm, ISO 2000. 1/3 sec at f14. Vivid picture control

 

Share