Shooting in the (almost) Dark


I love going for bike rides with my camera in the early evening, especially just as the sun is about to dip into the void off to the left of where that giant elephant carries the world.

(Don’t worry though, somewhere around morning, the sun invariably bumps into the elephant and the elephants says, “Ouch!’ and uses its trunk to toss the sun back up to the world. This is called sunrise.)

Finding patches of color in the (almost) dark is like finding a rough diamond and saying, “Wish I’d seen you an hour earlier.”

OK, so an hour earlier the rough diamond would still look like Smokey the Quartz, but both Smokey and the patch of color have one thing in common: with a bit of polishing, they present incredible beauty.

Now, I will admit…the patch of color isn’t going to look all that great if you enlarge it to poster size. I mean, you’ll have to bump the ISO up, which will degrade the image to an extent, and you’re still going to have a lot of (almost) dark.

But we photographers have magic tools that turn us into diamond cutters and polishers. Mine is Lightroom. In the image above, I set the ISO to 800 (a respectable ISO for a Canon 5D2). but there was still a lot of (almost)…well,¬†dark¬† in the image. But it threw the reflections of the stream in the distance into a beautiful backdrop for the color in the foreground and, with a little brightening in Lightroom, a few of the flowers became polished diamonds.

Sure, it’s not something I’d enlarge to poster size. It would look like pixelated crap. But it looks OK online…and isn’t that what the internet is for? To make high ISO images look good?

I guess what I’m trying to say is…don’t let the (almost) dark stop you from finding diamonds in the rough. Especially in the (almost) dark.

(Lens: Canon 100mm (with 2x extender); f stop: 4; shutter: 1/45 (hand held); focal length: 149mm)