Dreary Day Turns to Awesome Night Shooting
Updated: Jul 8, 2019
Initially published January 28th, 2019 at realjoestone.com/blog
I was invited to attend a photographer "Photo Walk" hosted by Flickr, in downtown Portland. It started in the late afternoon, with the intent of catching the river and cityscape during the evening "golden" and "blue" hours. Unfortunately, the weather had other plans. The forecast had called for early morning fog that was supposed to burn off and give clear skies by the afternoon. Only that never happened. Instead, that thick blanket of fog doubled down with no intention of burning off, leaving us with a cold, calm, dreary day. The bonus was, my old friend Nick from High School was there and we'd finally gotten together to shoot photos for the first time in the two years we had been talking about it. It was great seeing you again, Nick!
It was hard to really get inspired with all the grey. But hey, it made for some great black and whites.
The hardest part about all of this, was the camera settings. I was shooting primarily with my Canon EFS 24 mm 2.8 lens with my aperture set around f/20 or f/22. Other than my kit lens, it's the only lens I have with a fairly wide angle of view. For some strange reason I did play with my 100-300 mm lens for a moment, but went right back to the 24.
Shooting wide angle landscape shots and then changing up erratically to go up close or mid-range (usually hand held) in poor lighting was a real pain - I really need a good telephoto wide angle lens to replace the kit lens. I tried to rely on boosting the ISO but that of course gave me some really grainy shots that I wasn't at all happy with. Instead, I just mounted my camera to my tripod and left it there, dropped the ISO to 100 and started using my remote switch for those lower shutter speeds. Should have done that from the beginning.
Eventually, the city lights started to pop on as the skies grew darker and darker. Slowly we all could be begin to tell we were going to be in for a real treat.
When it became dark.... oh boy. It was magic. The city lights were much more colorful and vibrant than I recall. And that was amplified by the fog, which let each light cast its light much further and in a more visual way than usual. It was some of the most breathtaking city lights I had ever seen.
This was the first time I had been out and about with the sole purpose of taking photos in like, forever. At least it felt that way. Even though the day started with mild disappointment it ended on a high note with these great lazy shutter kind of shots. That first night photo of the bridge was a 25 second exposure at f/20, and 100 ISO using the 24 mm lens on my entry-level Canon Rebel T6i.