Getting Started: Let There Be Light

by Shane Thomas July. 11, 2011 4882 views

At 4:15 am this morning I was still awake. I looked out the window and saw that the sky above our garden was already turning blue. I wondered how that would look in a shot? Barefoot into the garden grass… …a few poor setting choices… …click, click. Not great. But a fun exercise.

I found myself thinking about light a lot throughout the day.

At 23:45, I was driving home from the gym and looked up. The moon was perfectly positioned, shining brightly through the only hole in a sky filled blanket of cloud, that appeared to have been torn by giant bear claw. I wanted that shot.

Lesson one… …have a camera ready at all times. I didn't. It wasn't.

I floored it to my home, ran into the house, grabbed the camera and ran back out again. The claw was still there. The moon was still waiting but I realised that I had one small problem.

This is suburbia. I was surrounded by bright orange street lamps. Everywhere. There was no way I was going to get the shot from outside my home.

I didn't even try. Instead, I jumped into the car and gunned it down the motorway in search of higher ground. Heading for the mountains, I figured I just might get the height advantage I was looking for. The claw was closing, the moon was not willing to wait.

I reached the mountain top. The source of the light pollution was now distant and low but it was clear that I'd lost my shot. The wound in the clouds had healed and the moon was now shrouded to the point of invisibility.

Not a star in the sky, the cloud blanket blocked any useful source of light from above and I could barely see my hand in front of my face until my eyes began to adjust. In the distance, there was the faintest glow of orange. Taunting me.

Then, I had an idea. What if?

What if I found a composition that I liked and used the pollution? Maybe jump a few fences, tripod and camera in tow, head into a field, point my lens at a tree line and see how much light I could capture as it bounces back from the clouds?

My goal since picking up the camera last week has been to have “what is in my mind be reflected in my shot”. I felt sure that if I were to leave the shutter open - I could make a friend of the light pollution.

Today's set is “untouched”. No cropping, no contrast changes, nothing.

Not great, I know. Still, I'm getting closer and closer to having what was in my find its way into my camera.

Take a newbie (me) that has no idea how to take photographs. Next, grab an entry level Nikon d3100 with 18-55VR stock lens and set both to full manual. Then, try to take photographs and have the end result resemble what was in my mind when I clicked the button.

First light…

Monday morning blues…?

Let there be light… (Shot 1 of 8)

Light pollution: friend or foe..? (Shot 4 of 8)

Street light at midnight… (Shot 8 of 8)

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Kaz Terlesky 9 years, 6 months ago

So ingenious! And the result is just fabulous :) Well done!!

9 years, 6 months ago Edited
Hysterogen 9 years, 6 months ago

The orange ones are impressing! You made the best out of it ;) My town isn't very big, but I know light polution here, too ...

9 years, 6 months ago Edited