Light is a big factor in photography. Waiting for the sunrise or sunset, hoping a cloud will move out of the way, or adding a flash to a scene are all known techniques to photographers. We’ve become quite used to arriving at a scene prior to sunrise to see how the sunrise colours will look. Lately, we’ve been doing the opposite, waiting for that brief period of light between sunset and darkness.
The challenge is photographing the new skyline in St. Catharines. The first concern is vantage point – where to position the camera and on a winter’s night that can be a problem. Climbing around frozen ground in the dark presents challenges. In this case, I wish I could get higher to get above trees and lamp posts. But short of renting a hydraulic lift, I had to make do with scrambling around on hillsides to find the best possible rather than ideal position.
I do like the light in this photo – daylight has definitely disappeared, but total night darkness hasn’t arrived. There’s still a sliver of daylight sliding behind the clouds. The inky blue sky is a nice contrast to the yellow building lights. Now the question is what exposure?
The exposure dilemma is how to expose for the soft light coming from the office windows in contrast to the strong light from the Meridian and Brock signs. And then there’s the strong light from the street lamps. So we took lots of exposure at lots of settings and ended up with this shot being 1/15th @ f/7 and an ISO of 2000. There is some noise visible in the dark blue sky, so next attempt will be to turn down the ISO to see if we can lessen that. What we do like is the light from the office windows and the light on the church spire. The flood of light in the parking lot is mostly contained compared to other exposures we tried.
Shooting in the dark is a challenge, but one that comes with the reward of discovering new colours and new sources of light in our photos. And shooting in the evening in January has the advantages of no mosquitoes!