Friday, May 31, 2013

Photo Blogging Challenge (May 2013): Night

I've been out of commission for a couple of weeks mainly because the last two to three weeks of school are just incredibly busy that I don't have much time for anything else.  This is only my 3rd post this month, by far and away, my lowest monthly total for this year.  Now that vacation time is hear, I have more free time to explore other things and that also includes blogging more frequently than I have been this month.  

As noted in the title, the photo blogging challenge for this week was night.  I have several different shots, but some that are very similar as I did a lot of night time photography this month.

1.  Jellyfish

A couple of weeks ago, I made a quick trip down to San Diego to go to Sea World.  They had a deal for teachers that if you went to the park on a voucher they provided for you, you'd get in free, plus get a year pass good for the rest of the year.  I couldn't pass that up.  

Most of the jellyfish exhibits I've seen at aquariums are always in simulated night environments, probably because jellyfish are more deepwater creatures so they don't need or get a whole lot of light in the first place.  If you ever get to one of these exhibits, you can get mesmerized by these floating disks of jelly very easily.  It's a very peaceful and calming thing to view if you crowd out of your mind the stinging tentacles that most jellyfish tend to have.

2.  Evolution

In the town where I live, we have a new shopping area completed just a couple of years ago, including a very nice movie theater.  In the center of the square, opposite the theater's entrance is this nice fountain, complete with stair step waterfalls cascading down to different tiers in the fountain.  At night there are lights under the water that illuminate it.

Included in the fountain are what look like salamanders, eels and fish, slowly evolving and coming out of the early "primordial sea" of Earth.  Several of these creatures are also reading books.  I chose to process this one in B&W.  I liked the flowing water, but I wanted the attention to also focus on the salamander reading its book.  With the light in orange and red, I think that would have drawn the viewer's eye away from the salamander and to the lights and the water.

3.  Heavenly bodies

I had about 20 seconds to set this shot up.  Our church fiesta was in full swing and I had been walking around taking shots of the various amusement rides at the fiesta, when I spotted the crescent moon just about to drop behind the trees.

I had the camera on the tripod already, so it was just a matter of setting it up, composing the shot and triggering the shutter.  The ride was slowing down, so I had one chance to get the light trails before the moon disappeared behind the trees.  As a bonus, I also got Jupiter shining brightly above the moon.

4.  The movie theater

This is the marquee for our movie theater.  To get to the theater, you have to walk under the marquee, between several restaurants and past the fountain I described above.  I've taken shots similar to this before, but that was back when I didn't have as good a working knowledge of my camera like I feel I have now.

This shot was a matter of timing.  I had to watch down the street and wait for cars to come by.  Just leaving the shutter on washed the shot out very quickly as the lit marquee is surprisingly bright.  Just a couple of seconds of open shutter was enough to get a good image on this shot.  I would have preferred to have continuous streaks of both headlights and taillights, but traffic was light last night when I was taking those shots, so I had to take what was given to me.

5.  The Statue

There's not a statue in this shot, but if you look in the lower right hand corner, you'll see a man in an orange shirt who is remarkably in focus.  This photo is an 8 second exposure, which is why I call this shot the statue.  

I've actually used this particular shot in another challenge set up by P.J. earlier this month, but I wanted to include it in this five shot set, because of this guy.  During photography's infancy, it was common to have most people's photos taken when they were sitting down so it would be easier to control movement.  Most exposures lasted 30 seconds or longer, so many of the chairs they sat in actually had neck braces to help the subject hold their heads still.  A photo of a Civil War battle is incredibly rare although I know at least one does exist.  Most of the Civil War photos were taken after the battles were done, mainly because dead bodies tend not to move.

I think the reason why this guy is actually so still is he wasn't aware I was taking his photo.  He probably would have been self conscious had he known and swayed slightly, making him a blur much like the other guy standing in front of the ride.  Looking over some of my other shots taken with this one, I'm still amazed at how many people really do stay fairly still over long exposures.

Once you're done, head on over to PJs place to see other bloggers interpretation of the night.

Lastly, I would like to apologize to the other bloggers who posted photos last month.  I never was able to get around and look at your shots and I will make that up over the next couple of days.  I look forward to seeing your interpretations of the night.

Sunday, May 12, 2013


Our church has its annual fiesta every year over Mother's Day weekend.  The past couple of years, we've been attending all three days since my wife works one of the booths.  I end up walking around quite a bit taking photos of all of the different things that happen at the fiesta.

One of the things that I've practiced over the last couple of years since starting my 365 project is long exposures.  I've had varying degrees of success catching the different amusement rides with all of there colored lights.  Some that look very interesting don't turn out as well once they've been shot with a long exposure.

I think part of the reason is most of the rides now have long fluorescent light tubes as opposed to individual lights.  If they don't have a constant movement, like this ferris wheel did, the light becomes a very large blob and doesn't look very appealing.  It becomes very experimental while you're trying out different angles for shots.  

Yesterday, during the day, I scouted out spots where I wanted to take shots, then forgot to place my tripod at one of the spots I'd scouted out.   Not much to worry in the long run because the ride I wanted to take a shot of didn't work very well in other shots, so I'm pretty sure it would have turned out quite similar from that spot as well.

Because I've also started the 100 Strangers project, I was looking for possible stranger shots as well as general "Street Photography" type shots to take.  I think I did well with both aspects as I was able to take a photo of one of the concessioners talking with someone.  The tattoos on his arm, spelling out the word Knoxville worked really well in this shot.  He was very successful in plying money out of patrons' hands most of the evening.  The lure of winning a stuffed animal was big in a lot of people's minds and he played right into the lure very easily.

Overall, I was very pleased with many of the shots I took this weekend.  I have several other light trail shots on my Flicker account.  I also met Curtis, one of the concessioners at the fiesta.  He became my 37th stranger yesterday.  If you'd like to check out some of the other night time shots I took this weekend, check out my Night Photography album at Flicker.  I'm hoping for one more nighttime excursion before the end of the month to possible get some star trails as I'm in a blog challenge to take photos with the theme Night for the month of May.  I have a pretty good start on that challenge after this weekend.

Friday, May 3, 2013

Flashback Friday

When I hit the flashback button tonight, I was really pleased with the image that showed up this evening.  We've been having warmer weather than normal this past week.  Our daytime high hit 98˚ F today and with those kinds of temperatures, the butterflies have come out in force.  

Most of them seem to either be very wary of things larger than themselves, as I have not been able to get many, if any shots of the larger species around here.  I have been able to get quite a few shots of skippers, like the one posted here.  They just seem to want to pose.  

I spotted this skipper and bee back in July of last summer, right near the end of my summer vacation.  I think if I were to post this shot today, I'd do a slightly tighter crop to get the vertical stick out of the frame on the left hand side.  Why that didn't get cropped out the first time around is very perplexing to me.