As mentioned in last week's blog, I promised to show a couple of cars from the evening part of my workshop under the full moon. If you've tried night photography with light painting you may already know one of the challenges is that objects do not show the accumulated (flash) light that has been painted on them, thereby leaving no evidence of how heavily or lightly it was applied or retained. Digital photography is a world of help here and in the days of film, I bet it was a real guessing game as to what was happening. I can't think of anything else similar to this process where you are doing something almost imaginary (into thin air) that then appears on some other medium. Maybe it's like playing a musical instrument. It disappears as it is created unless something is recording it.
For ease of reference, I am putting the daylight image first and the moonlight image second.
A discerning eye might find itself thinking "Gee, if I were her, I would have moved that cardboard box in the lower right out of the way," and I just want to say that is exactly what I was thinking when I was there but after it was already dark. I decided to rather carefully lift the box, having been previously warned about Black Widow Spiders and other potentially toxic nocturnal creatures. Sure enough, when I lifted the corner there was a spider sitting right there staring up at me with all eight of its eyes. I don't think it was a Widow, but it didn't matter. I kept a non-stop beam of flashlight on it for probably 10 minutes waiting and watching to see where it was going to run off to. It didn't budge, probably because it was blinded from the light. I thought about killing it, but that didn't seem right since this was the spider's home, not mine. I'm sensitive about that stuff. I'm sure the spider is too. I knew as soon as I turned off the flashlight it was going to crawl straight toward me and probably up my pant leg or get into my camera bag for a surprise visit in my hotel room later. So I left the box, finished my work prematurely, and moved on to another car.
I wanted to experiment with multiple colors so I painted this truck in red and green. I had a bit of beginner's luck with the steering wheel. Interiors are hard to do and I don't think I successfully duplicated another steering wheel like that the rest of the workshop. Which one do you think looks better? I actually did not get very good feedback for the red image and they didn't see the green one during the workshop.
I happened to be one of the few greenhorns in the group and my work pales in comparison to the experienced shooters I was keeping company with. When I set out to do this workshop, it was something I wanted to check off my list. I thought I would experience it and then be able to move on or go back to what I am used to doing and have a new skill to put on my resume. It didn't quite work that way though. Now I want to work on it more to see if I can get to be as good as the really good guys. I am pretty sure I can improve if I keep working at it.
Thanks for visiting and I have two more days of shooting in the junkyard that I will hope to cover in the future. Also, a very Happy Mother's Day to my Mom and all the other moms out there. Thanks for all you did and still do Mom!
Last January I was on a photography expedition and headed out one morning at about 5:30 a.m. to catch the sunrise. That's pretty early for winter, but there was a full moon and I knew I'd be able to catch it setting before the sun came up. I was fully outfitted with multiple layers, very little skin showing, and toe warmers to buy a little extra time before I had to come in and warm up. My biggest concern was being all alone on the lake and possibly getting sized up as a tasty bowl of Frosted Flakes breakfast cereal by a traveling wolf pack.
It was unbelievably still and peaceful out there. Not a sound was to be heard. I took my time getting across the lake, photographing the full moon when the composition looked good, and made it to the car about 45 minutes later. My next destination was 3/4 mile down the road with another hike from there. I could have walked the entire distance but since I was trying to beat the clock and reserve any warmth I had left in my body for the sunrise shoot, I wanted to get there without further delay.
Once the car was parked, I hiked up about 2 blocks of incline and maybe another block or so of flat terrain when I found a spot to work from. I was on the edge of a cliff and the temp was around 1 degree F. The wind would have felt nice on a hot day, but this morning it was gusting over 20 MPH and that made it feel like below zero temps.
I quickly learned the biggest obstacle I was facing was my own breath. I am no stranger to working in wintery conditions but this had never happened to me before. Despite having my face covered with a ski mask, my breath was freezing on the filter and all around the back of the camera. The real problem was the filter though. They are necessary to hold the sun back when it is that close to rising. Sunrise colors change by the second and even 5 minutes of waiting could be a deal breaker. I tried to wipe the filter off but to no avail. I had to take off my gloves and use the warmth of my fingers to melt the ice and that meant exposing my hands to the bitter cold.
It really wasn't working but there were some other filters I was able to try. That's about when I realized how much my toes were starting to hurt. The toe warmers seemed like they weren't doing anything. I knew I had to get back to the car and fast. When I got there, I took a self-portrait to show the frozen hair that had sneaked out of my cap and scarf. That's the same culprit that was creating havoc with my filters.
I sat in the running car hoping it would generate some heat so I could thaw out before had to face the hike back across the lake to camp. Even the car didn't want to warm up, so I finally headed back encouraged by the warmth the lodge would bring.
Now that I am about to embark on my next journey up there, I am a little wiser for the wear. My trusty old Sorel boots which I have worn since college won't be going with me on this trip. I have invested in a pair of Steger Mukluks. This pair. Some of the warmest ones they make.
I bought the extra wool and reflective foil liners for maximum heat retention. They were expensive but I don't ever want to end a photography gig again due to frozen toes. Word out there is that these are the best and I'm about to put them to the test.
In the meantime, here is a link to Steger Mukluks:
Until next time, I hope you all have a very Happy Valentine's Day and thank you for stopping by.
Originally published Nov. 29, 2012
A couple of years ago I went out to my Uncle’s place in the country to photograph the full moon coming up over the corn fields.
To get to his house I have to drive down a very long, usually dry and dusty road. It’s one of those old gravel roads. The kind where you better roll up the windows and turn off the vents or the car will fill up with dust and you might be coughing by the time you get there.
As luck would have it, the weather turned and it proceeded to rain for 2 days straight. I’ve never seen it rain that much in a 2 day period. The normally dry and dusty road was starting to wash out in spots.
Generally, the house rules are that the dog is allowed inside but the cats are not. While waiting for the skies to clear up, which it did not until after I left, I couldn’t help taking a picture of this little cat hoping for a break from the cool rain.
It sure seems to speak volumes. It might make a cute greeting card!
Originally published Apr. 29, 2012
I have a bunch of blogs that are in draft form right now, so while I develop those ideas a little more, I thought I would talk about a couple of images from last Fall.
When I traveled up north I spent the night in a hotel on Lake Superior. I have never stayed on one of the Great Lakes before, and the really cool thing about it was that when I left my sliding balcony door open, I closed my eyes and just listened, the waves made the same sound as ocean waves do. It sounds silly when I put it in words but it felt pretty neat to have that experience in Minnesota.
I also really liked watching the moonshine on the lake. Here are a few images of that including two with my Singh-Ray Gold-n-Blue Polarizer.
Originally published Jan. 21, 2012
Have you ever heard someone give this sage advice: When you are watching a sunset turn around and see what is going on behind you. It is true that the golden light of sunrises and sunsets is beautiful to look at from every angle, whether you are facing the sun drop or rise, or watching it drape everything else in a sheer curtain of amber color.
Since I have a habit of being tunnel visioned anyway and it gets drastically worse when I'm looking through a camera, I have developed a routine of looking behind myself when I am out shooting. I do this for several reasons. One is to make sure I'm not missing something and two is to do the critical check for any black bears that might be sneaking up behind me. So far I've only seen a chipmunk and a raccoon, thank goodness! My bear bells must be working.
Last fall, I went up to Palisade Head in Tettegouche State Park for the full moon in October. As I was waiting for the sun to rise the next morning, I decided to make that obligatory turn behind me and look what I saw!
I could hardly believe my eyes. What had seemed like an eyesore the day before, this 324 foot radio tower took on some otherworldly glow as the full moon was setting behind it. I'm thinking my old buddy Joe Reifer would have loved this site. If you want to see some cool, out-of-this-world photography, check out Joe's website at:
I am a photographer who lives in Minnesota. I blog about Minnesota, photography, music, food and miscellaneous topics.