Sep 18, 2011

Lightning, again

Finally, we had some moisture falling from the sky... I know there are a lot of happy plants and ranchers out there....

Clouds starting building in the evening... a sign of things to come
Storm Clouds-200

We sat and watched a PBS mystery as the storm rolled through, but afterwards, the fireworks were too much to resist...

These are uncropped images to see what the camera takes in with the old 5D and a 14mm. That is a lot of sky. The lightning was occasionally going beyond my field of vision from one roof line to the horizon etc.
Storm Clouds-9991

If you look closely at the image, you can see dozens of red and blue pixels. Some of this is from a dirty sensor.. some may be just because the camera is aging rapidly. When the shutter is open for a long time, bad (hot) pixels really pop out.
Storm Clouds-0017

Even photos of lightning are made better by a foreground element... in this case, my second attempt at getting a car passing down the street in the shot. The first time, it was more than 30 seconds before any lightning flashed and the shot was toast. This one took 19 seconds.
Storm Clouds-0048

Be safe out there and have a great week,

Don J.

Sep 14, 2011

Fires at night

It is a little bit awkward to talk photography in a situation where something much larger, namely a house fire that destroys a family's home, is involved. Certainly nothing here is meant to lessen the impact or tragedy of what is going on in these pictures. Not far from where I was standing was a distraught mother who escaped with her children. One poor kid had run out without clothes. The debate on whether to take or show those pictures is for another time.

But as fire photography goes, night time fires provide the most drama and light character. It is a constantly changing situation because the fire itself is up and down, and the lights from the fire trucks and other emergency vehicles are literally moving all around with lots of red and blue in the mix.

This would be a good photo during the day, but at night, the contrast makes the fire pop.

You can shoot Aperture priority and just pay attention to + or - exposure compensation for how much bright light is in the scene.. Manual exposure is much the same, just watch the meter and know what the bright areas and dark areas are doing to your exposure. Are you exposing for detail in the fire itself or for detail in the darker areas?

Here -2/3 gave a useful mix and still left detail in the flame.

And here -2 gave an image that is pretty close to what it looked like in person.

After the major firefighting operations are over, the unique lighting situation is a very interesting shooting gallery for firefighter portraits. By this point at this fire all daylight was gone so I switched over to Manual and just worked with what the meter was telling me...
Lots of directional light from the trucks creates lighting you would have a hard time duplicating (or predicting).

Including the fire trucks in the photos means lots of light shining directly into the camera, but that isn't all bad either.. again, manual exposure is a must to keep any detail in faces as the constantly flashing lights will drive the camera meter to madness.

Sept13 Night Fire-432

Again... this is a situation where something terrible is happening in peoples' lives, so photography can seem trivial. But if you are going to do the job of photojournalism, you better do it as well as you can to justify being on the scene, and to honor the people risking their lives to put out the fire.

Don J.

Sep 10, 2011

Rodeo Terrell

I know it has been too long between blog posts when my computer drops the blog site from my "Top Sites" screen.

The first "Rodeo Terrell" event was fun.. and made me want to shoot more rodeo. There is plenty of 'expect the unexpected' even though a lot of shots turn out to look the same. Of course, it is dusty, dark and half of the time you wish you were on the opposite side of the arena.

Barrel racing is one event where you can get reliably decent shots at predetermined spots.. at the barrels.

For almost everything else, the peak action may take place anywhere. Not my favorite shot of the night, but seriously, these guys risk a lot for their sport...


Have a great rest o' your weekend, everyone. (and go get some nice pictures.. the weather is great!)

Don J.