Official Sunrise: 8:11 Photograph Taken @: 8:21
Temperature: 30° Wind: Occasional Gentle Breeze
Photographer: Ron Day Camera Used: Nikon D200
Snow!?? What’s that all about?
This is Alaska not New York. If I’d wanted snow I would have moved to New York State.
Ha Ha. Just joking.
“Holy crap I’m cold! I’m thinking about heading to Alaska. I’m sure it’s much warmer there!”
~Comment from Facebook – February 25, 2010~
Home Alone As The Ladies Go To D.C.
Since the weather has been nice for the past few days I had planned on leaving the house early this morning and driving up the Parks Highway looking for some nice pictures of Denali. My plans were changed when I stepped outside before light. It was snowing, and snowing hard.
Well, so much for that! I sure wasn’t driving in this weather if I didn’t need to so I went to my studio, instead.
The reason I’d planned on taking a drive was because I’m home alone now, and had the PT Cruiser all to myself. Becky, along with Cindi and Dawn, left for Washington D.C. late last night and won’t be back until Sunday evening. So it’s just me at home now, keeping those home fires burning, plus our Dachshund dog Schnitlze and our cat, Miss Paws, of course.
I’ve been kicking myself this morning because I let a good picture get away. Last night Becky and I picked up Dawn at her home and then I dropped both of the off at Cindi’s house, where they would leave for the airport a little later. They were all three dressed up real fine and looked mighty purty, but I didn’t even give a thought to taking their picture. In fact, it didn’t even cross my mind until this morning that I should have taken their picture. I’m such a klutz sometimes. A picture of those three women all dressed up like that would have looked mighty mighty pleasing in today’s blog.
Dang it, anyway!
Well, I suppose you’ve noticed that I’ve missed writing in my blog for a couple of days. I’ve been trying to shake this awful cold and it’s just hung on something terrible. It’s left me groggy and senseless, without enthusiasm or ambition. But today I’m feeling a little better so maybe it’s finally letting go of me.
How I Photograph Moving Vehicles In The Darkness
Because the snow changed my plans this morning I wasn’t sure what I’d write about in todays blog. Didn’t even know if I’d even publish one today. But I hate missing three days in a row, and as I sat in front of my computer before daylight I could hear vehicles driving by outside on Bayview Drive, my neighbors headed off to work.
“Hmmm.” I thought, ” Maybe I’ll just step out onto my porch and do some more experimenting with long exposures and vehicle lights.”
And that’s just what I spent the next hour or so doing. Afterwards, as I was processing the images I’d taken on my computer, I found it interesting that although each photograph was taken from the exact same place, the little covered porch on my studio, they all had a different look to them. The speed of the vehicle, changing lighting conditions, length of the exposure, and amount of zoom on my lens, all of these variables contributed greatly to the overall look of each picture.
That made me wonder if someone else would find these things interesting, too.
Below, I’ve posted some of this morning’s pictures, along with the EXIF data and time taken from each one. I’m thinking that out there somewhere there are photographers who have grown bored with the pictures they’ve been taking recently and are looking for searching for something, a different look in their work, perhaps. I’d like to suggest to them that they experiment with night photography and moving vehicles. It’s interesting work, and kind of fun, too.
Each photo below was taken with a Nikon D200 in Raw (NEF) format using a Nikon 80-200 f2.8 zoom lens. The camera and lens were mounted on a sturdy tripod, which remained in the same exact location throughout my shooting session. White balance was set to Incandescent, except in the first shot, and the ISO was 100. To help control the long exposures required, the shutter speed on the D200 was set to “bulb” and a Nikon MC-36 remote release was used to open and close the shutter. Post processing was accomplished using Nikon Capture NX and Photoshop Elements 5.0.
My first shot of the morning was of this pickup truck rounding a corner on Bayview Drive in Wasilla, Alaska. I thought I’d gone through all of the settings on my Nikon D200 and had them all set correctly. As soon as I took this picture and saw it on the LCD I realized I’d forgotten to re-set the white balance to incandescent, instead leaving it set to my setting of 7100k from yesterday. Luckily I was shooting in NEF format and was able to easily correct the mistake during post processing.
This is a School Bus coming towards the camera. I found that vehicles coming towards the camera required a much smaller aperture because of the brighter headlights, as opposed to tail lights which are of course dimmer.
By using the remote release I was able make my exposures begin and end exactly where I wanted them to. In this case I waited until the vehicle had completely entered my viewfinder.
This vehicle was a pickup truck. The short red line at the top left resulted when the driver braked briefly before entering the corner, causing the brake light at the back of the cab to illuminate.
Another School Bus approaching the camera. I stopped the lens down to f22 on this shot to eliminate overexposure, but because the bus was travelling much slower than the previous one I left the lens opened for a longer period of time to allow it travel completely through the frame, thus resulting in overexposed areas once again.
This image was very underexposed and I was forced to do lighten it about 1.5 stops using Nikon Capture NX. Luckily, it’s easy to do this when you shoot in RAW format.
Another underexposed image, but I only adjusted this one about 2/3 of a stop in Nikon Capture NX. Again, I timed my exposure to capture both ends of the lights in the image. If I had let the vehicle travel through the frame, increasing the exposure time, the image would have been considerably brighter.
Notice in this photo how blue the snow is beginning to appear. This is caused by the morning sun as it gradually lighten the sky, changing the scenes white balance characteristics. Because to camera’s white balance is set to tungsten, the colors in the image are beginning to change. Only areas actually lit by tungsten lights have correct coloring now.
Another case of a driver applying brakes before entering the corner, as seen by the shorter and brighter lights on the left. I purposely stopped this exposure just before the vehicle exited the frame at the top.
This small compact car left a fairly simple light trail. Another somewhat underexposed image but I left it basically they way I found it in the camera. The bluish cast to the snow is partially by the under exposed image, but mainly because of the changing lighting conditions.
I shortened the exposure on this shot to include only a small length of the vehicles tail lights. It too is under exposed but if I would have adjusted my aperture setting to f5.6 the overall exposure would have been much better.
Hopefully someone found these pictures and information interesting. As I study them myself it’s obvious to me that I have a tendency to under-expose rather than over-expose. That gives me an indication of what needs to be done differently the next time I try this. In addition to varying my exposures a little more, I think I’ll also try zooming the lens in and out during some my shots.
So, if you find you’re becoming bored with your photos why not try doing something different with your camera equipment? Do some experimenting. Digital photography is cheap. There’s no film to be developed and you can instantly see the results of your experiments.
I myself think it’s a perfectly good way to pass the unusually long winter months many of us are enduring.