My First Night Shot

Weeks of scattered showers and occasional rains have turned into pouring rains in this last week. People were experiencing minutes of power shortage, constant rain streams, rushing creeks, and even flooded streets. I was working on my photos and writing by the window. Rain was just dropping no stop, not even one minute. A few of my yellow roses have their second bloom, but they are beaten up by heavy rain and tender petals are forced open and dragged down.  Rose is gorgeous in its perfect condition and is often the center of attention, but I had the urge to photograph the status of this imperfection. Except when I finally got the shot, I decided to let my evergreen plant drop a few tears and bury it, in my mind.
As a matter of fact, I love stormy weather and heavy rains if those who live in the unprotected area won’t suffer the consequence. I love the sound of the raging thunder and the beat of heavy rain.  They are nature sound that transmits energy and power, and in the end, the excitement. I also don’t mind listening to the raindrops falling on the roof resulting in a sleepless night.
When I was a child, my family lived in a bit less than the moderate neighborhood. I loved typhoons (the Pacific version of hurricanes) even though we children had to wade in water occasionally. Aside from the dramatic sound, I got to listen to my older sibling’s ghost stories. I knew then that they made up some of them, but what the heck, it was fascinating to listen in the dark when power was out and the storm roared and shook the window violently. This is the moment that I won’t ever wipe out of my memory.
With my photography partner, we planned to go to Bandon for a weekend shoot. As you can imagine, we could not help not to pull out our cameras numerous times along the way. By the time when we arrived at the lighthouse area, it was after dusk. We missed the golden hours.  It was not that late, but it was dark and cold, and it was getting darker quickly. Having a hard time letting go and just resting for the day, we put on our heavy coats and pull out our gears. Wanting to be a photographer? shoot under all circumstances, I said to myself.
I don’t have class A gears and I am certainly not technically savvy, not yet.  One thing I do have is my desire to frame and record what I witnessed. No regular blue sky, ocean green, white wave, and red/white lighthouse. Instead, at that moment, there was an absolutely tranquil set of scenes with multiple colors: charcoal gray, regent blue, pinkish-orange, and antique white colors. How would we ever finish counting Nature’s endless color spectrum?
I am surely not an adventurer at this stage of my life.  I was daring to travel alone around the world with a case full of product samples at an early age. But now that ‘blind’ guts vanished and I don’t even dare to drive to the coast by myself not to mention to go out and shoot in the night.   This is my first opportunity to shoot a few on this lovely and peaceful night. (Did you notice that there was a fishing boat down the right side of the horizon? the tiny white spot.)
It’s colder and we could use some food, so we went to one of the few distinguished restaurants, but the food is blended, which does not justify the value. Besides, I think we were both anxious to head out in the night with our cameras and we did immediately when the waitress gave us thanks.
A couple walked by me, and the man said, ‘can you guys really take pictures in the dark like this?’  ‘Yes, we can.’ I meant to take photos in the dark without flash, and only relied on street lights and whatever light source was available in the vicinity. The truth is, it is nothing new and many photographers have done it and produced amazing photos, but I have not really tried it myself. I may do it once before and only one shot. 
Here we go, we headed to the boat ramp where we could see some lights. Had the tripod set up in the dark and let the fun begin. 

Before I explored DSLRs with manual or semi-manual settings, I used a point and shoot and set Auto on everything.  When it is automatic, mathematics takes charge, and depending on how precise our mathematicians are, we have limited freedom to get what we want. Now with manual adjustments, the whole wild world can be explored at your own pace and at your fingertips.  I have a long way to go before I can just ‘play with my fingers, but I am learning whenever I launch myself a new challenge and I love the challenge.

I am a novice for night shots. My fingers are still quite ‘stiff’. Walking by the boat dock, I saw a few post lights around and a bit more light shining through restaurant windows. My first shot was fired and it seemed that the area outside the restaurant was on fire. There were lights and reflections bursting everywhere in the scene, it was completely overexposed. For a second, I did not know what to do. Then, I was gradually getting it.

Overwhelmed at first, but when I took a second look. I liked it. The image brought to my mind, a cold night, at a local bar and grill, with a cluster of laughter and cheers celebrating New Year’s Eve. The joy and high emotion lit up the building bright orange/gold and the beams pierced through windows and created stunning reflections. 

During the holiday season, we often cheered out Peace and Joy, and this is exactly that. The silence of the boats (peace) contrasts the ‘noise’ from the inside (joy). At this point, I could not feel the ‘noise’ and was not completely calm, the two have neutralized each other, and what’s left is, Harmony.

On the second day, when we woke up at dawn, the day was just breaking, the sun was up but it was fading and blending into the cloudy background. Backlight condition is not always ideal, but for me, try it anyway. If my shot is not good enough, I blame my camera first and next time, I will quietly use different settings for further experiments. I did not start this in my 20s or 30s, so pick up what I have and do what I can. 

There is no shortage of seagulls at the coast, but it is not easy to get good action shots if you don’t have a big bag of food with you to attract them. The faithful lighthouse is always there and it glows distinctively at different times of the day, why not capture their glamour instead.

If you take a look at the last picture, you would know how crazy photographers are sometimes. Freezing in the dark and still not letting go of the camera. When passion prevails, nothing can stop it.  

I am so happy that I finally had my first night out to enjoy nature in the dark and also peek at the night environment from a very different perspective. 


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