Photos in the Dark!

After posting this photo on my Facebook page, a few have asked how I took this shot.

This photo and a few more that you’ll see a little later in this post were taken in the dark. Because the light is too harsh in the middle of the day, I like to use that time to scout out my next mornings shooting location. I do that because it will be totally dark when I arrive at the location and I want to have a good idea of where exactly I should be and how to find it in the dark.

Taken in the darkTaken in the dark

While you might get some of the same effect in the evening after the sun goes down, I prefer early, early mornings. Most of the time no one else is there to spoil this quiet peaceful time. While setting up to take this shot, I heard a couple of elk bulging and had two beaver swim right in front of me. The only noise was that of the critters. There was no wind. Talk about a time to reflect. Yes, I know, I know!  I’m in bear country, by myself, in the dark….. but ….. Hey ………… I have my bear spray!

The technical part of this type of photography is quite simple. You’ll need a sturdy tripod, a wide-angle lens (I use a 16-35 mm), your camera turned to manual mode, the shutter to bulb mode and a remote shutter release. The remote shutter release is important because the shutter will need to be opened for more than a minute. Any camera movement will cause blur in your image during that time. The photo above was taken at 78 seconds. The ISO should be at the lowest native setting, typically 100 or 200. Oh yea, you’ll need a flashlight. I use a head lamp on red. The red light doesn’t affect my night vision.

After you’ve hiked to your spot and set up your camera on the tripod, do your best to compose the shot in the dark. One you’re all physically set up, set the aperture in your camera to a high f-stop number like f-19 or f-22. set your focus to the infinity indicator on the barrel of the lens. Be careful not to go past the infinity mark as some lens will allow you to do. That seems to cause everything to be slightly out of focus. I don’t know why it does so but……..

Now comes the fun part. In bulb mode, the shutter will remain open once it’s activated and close when you release the shutter button. Using a remote shutter release allows you to trigger the shutter without touching the camera. Depressing the shutter button on the camera can cause the camera to move which will cause blur.  Hold the shutter release button on the remote, then start to count. As stated above, the first photo was taken at 78 seconds. Once you release the shutter, look at your LCD to see how the photo looks. If it’s too light, time the next shot for a few seconds less. If it’s too dark, hold the shutter open a little longer. Keep doing it until you’re satisfied with the results. That’s it…. Almost!

Grass is removed
Grass is removed

It’s only ALMOST done because it’s dark and sometimes when you’ve composed the shot, you may have some distractions in your photo that you didn’t notice while composing it. In my first photo, you will notice some grass in the bottom left area of the picture. I didn’t see it because it was so dark out. It took all of 2 minutes to get rid of them in post processing.

But it's Dark Out!
But it’s Dark Out here at Oxbow!
Blue time at Oxbow
Blue time at Oxbow

Don’t be discouraged if after all your planning and scouting for your location, you wake up to find fog has rolled in. Don’t go back to bed! ….. Don’t do it!

The fog had rolled in on the morning I had planned on getting some brilliantly colorful shots of Oxbow in the early morning glow. Because I was there before everyone else, I got the blue light photos you see above. Then, I waited. Before the sun had burned off the fog, a lot of the photographers that had showed up left because they knew the light would be harsh once the fog lifted. I’m glad I stayed!

Fog was starting to lift
Fog was starting to lift

By using the same technique, but not holding the shutter open nearly as long, you can get shots like these. While I didn’t get the photos of Oxbow with the billion colors of early morning light, I’m still happy with what I did get.  All in all, it was a terrific morning!

Beautiful Morning at Oxbow in the Grand Teton National Park
Beautiful Morning at Oxbow in the Grand Teton National Park

I hope this tip gives you something to try…… but ……. remember, you’ve got to be patient and you must get up before the sun to get these types of shots.

I know, I know………… But It’s DARK OUT!

Thanks for stopping by!

Bill

Ocicat! …. What’s an O. C. Kaht?

I was doing some street photography last Sunday in Jackson Hole, Wy when I saw this person with his cat approach a police officer’s car.  While the person appears unique, it was the cat that really caught my eye. The fact that it has spots and was clinging to its human seemed a bit unlike domestic cats of which I’m familiar.  This one actually seem to enjoy being held and was harnessed.

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While I couldn’t hear the conversation, it was quite long and seemed very friendly. Things just didn’t seem like they appeared so I waited to try to get better shots of these two intriguing subjects.

 

_BBA9643 Once the conversation ended, this is the shot that I got. His body language seem to say “Go away and leave us alone.” As I walked along side him, I tried to engage him in conversation but it was clear by his short answers to my questions that he didn’t want to be bothered. I was still intrigued because he didn’t seem to be what he appeared to be….

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After a short while, I noticed that he had put the cat on the ground in the town square and was allowing some girls to photograph it. He even let one of them hold it for a photo.  I quickly went over to them to see if I could get more photos myself. I think when I literally got on my belly to take this photo and shared it everyone, the man softened up and became more friendly.

 

O. C. KAHT
O. C. KAHT

He definitely was not what he appeared. He was very articulate and while his clothes were a bit weathered, he was immaculately well-kept and his teeth where snow-white. He was quite interesting. He told me that the cat was a special breed. I thought that it might be an Ocelot but he quickly told me that it would be illegal to have a wild cat as a pet in Jackson Hole. This cat was actually an Ocicat. It is named so because it resembles its wild Ocelot cousin. However, they are not bred from Ocelots. They are quite unique because they don’t seem to have the indifferent temperament of most cats. They tend to be more like dogs. None the less, it is a very Kool Kaht!

Ocicat
Ocicat

This Ocicat, actually has his own website, www.ocicat.com . Visit it to learn more about them. While I didn’t get the man’s name, I’m not sure he would have told me anyway, I think I may have figure out who he is. If I’m correct, he’s a noted author but I’m not going to say who I think he is because I want to respect his privacy and I’m not really sure.

Message learned…… Always be kind and share your photographs with your subjects. It may open new and interesting doors.

Thanks for coming and please stay tuned for more street photography from Jackson Hole, Wy.

Bill

A Tribute to Dumasani

THE MAGNIFICENT DUMASANI! 20110809-095744-_BA14356 No one can feel more sad than I with the passing of our beloved Dumasani.  I have spent many, many hours over the last 12 years at the lion exhibit at the Kansas City Zoo talking to guests about lions. While we’re not suppose to have favorites, I have to admit Dumasani was mine. I’m not ashamed to admit that I’ve shed tears since his passing for I will miss him greatly. That being said, I would like to celebrate his life with you as I saw him with some of my favorite photographs of him. I wish I had taken more. So, here goes……

During sunny days on cold winter days, he seem to love to sleep next to his rock which I’m sure radiated some heat. 20120304-124918-_BA11667 From time to time he would look up and change positions. He probably wanted to be sure all was well in his kingdom. 20120304-124020-_BA11647 He seem to love his rock even on warm spring days. 20101024-121513-_BA18697 In the summer, he would often seek the shade in several different places. 20110628-141519-20110628-141519-IMG_0001.DNG-3 The photo below is one of my favorites. He seem to be hiding in the shade out of sight from the public. You had to look through a bunch of bushes to find him.  Notice that he’s still looking over his kingdom which includes dandelions. 20110508-105037-20110508-105037-IMG_0001.DNG I really loved it when he would come close to the viewing area. Children of all ages would be in awe when he would sit or lay down just a few inches away for them. They loved him! 20090809-112109-_BA18355 I’m sorry to say that I didn’t get many of him with his pride. Those of you who remember seeing him with his pride, the photo below should remind you of what you most often saw. As I’ve told many guests, “We think of them as The King of Beasts but some times I think of them as The King of Sleep.” As you know, they nap/sleep 18-20 hours per day. 20120422-113517-_BA12989 It is true that in recent years he started to move a little more slowly. 20110809-095447-_BA14339 But I will always remember him the way in which he was…. 20090809-112020-_BA18350-2 Simply Magnificent!

You will be missed Big Guy but I will never forget you. Rest in Peace!