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)


Day 2 – Monkey Trees and a Battery Sale

So…it was a dark and spooky night. Even without a full moon…in which case I would have cried the whole time, being a big baby and all. But, it was only a half moon which makes it just half spooky, though, yes…darker. Before I left home, I set everything up…camera settings, flash power (Which I wish I’d known about that a couple of weeks ago while shooting at Killarney Lake. Why does everything have to be so damned complicated?) (And here endeth the rant.), tested the transceiver, put the camera on the tripod and a bunch of other shit.

Well, I got there and, as above, it was bloody dark, and I could hear things slithering and crawling and drooling and saying, “Mommy, can we eat the crazy bald guy?”

“Only if he falls and knocks himself out, dears.”

OK…maybe I cried a little bit.

I set my camera-loaded tripod up with just enough light from the half moon to make sure that it was level. Then I set up the flash and took a picture with the remote.

Nothing happened. No flash. I was counting on that flash to scare away the creepy crawly things that wanted to eat me. I suddenly felt very much alone. Very vulnerable. Very edible.

Through the panic, I thought. What’s wrong here? Maybe it’s the batteries in the transceivers…the ones that you left on since the last time you used them. So I packed up everything. Stopped for a bit to bang my head into a tree and put another wound right beside one I got the last time I was in the woods. Hey, night before last, I cut my little finger…the one that accidentally presses the Send key before you’re ready to send a message and FB. And right after that…I cut my thumb.

I get these things in pairs.

My mother used to say that things come in threes. No, Mom…they come in pairs.

So…where was I? Oh yeah…at the Stuperstore buying batteries. I stood in the entrance where there was lots of light so that I could see what I was doing as I opened the battery compartments on the transceivers. Which was about the time I noticed that the one on the flash was already opened. I closed it and tried the off-camera flash and it worked.


At least the batteries were on sale, so I saved some money at some time in the future.

I drove back to the monkey trees and set things up and got the picture you see here. It’s not entirely in focus, but it was the best shot I got (And yeah, I might take more than one image each day…but I will take a picture every day and post the best one here.)

I’m going to go back there and get this image right. But not as part of this project. And I will take mace for those little bastards that want to eat me.

Monkey Trees

Lesson learned: If you’re going to shoot in the dark…don’t leave your flashlight at home.