Okay, let us address the elephant in the room. As you can see it has been almost a year since I last made any updates to my website. I had every intention to make this a monthly post where I could give you some insight into how I created the featured image. Long story short, I inadvertently put these updates on the back burner and focused my energy on other projects. I thought I could skip a month, but then it turned into two, then three, and so on. Fast forward to today, here we are now, almost a year later and I am finally getting to a long-awaited update!
There is a funny thing about this particular photo, I took this photo without knowing I took this photo while staying at Pier B in Duluth, Minnesota March of 2018. My then beautiful fiancé now wife Cheryl and I were finalizing venues for our wedding and landed on Pier B to host our special event. After taking the standard tour, we went out to explore the venue on our own and take some reference photos to help with our party planning. It was getting a little cold with the wind blowing off the lake and we were losing daylight fast. As we were nearing the end of our inspection adventure, we soon found ourselves up on the large outdoor deck that faces the harbor. As we stood there, we knew this was going to be the spot for the ceremony. Despite the cold wind blowing in my face, I put my Sony a7R II camera with a Sony FE 16-35mm f4 lens on my tripod and started to bracket some exposures of the available lights from the hanging string lights above the deck trying to capture tranquil scenes before me. As the daylight turned to night, I kept increasing the exposure time until it was getting to be a little over 30 seconds. After about half an hour or so, I felt like I captured what I needed, picked up my camera, and walked over to where Cheryl was snapping away at a few photos (To be honest, I was getting a little cold and wanted to head inside for a beer!). As I was walking toward the other end of the deck to meet up with her, I somehow accidentally hit the shutter release button on my cable remote and did not realize the camera was making this exposure.
It wasn’t until we got back to our room that I started to review the images on the back of my camera and realized there was an extra photo that I did not remember taking. I was a bit confused and wondered when and how I took this image. After a moment or two, I then realized what happened, rolled my eyes, and let out a little laugh and a huge sigh while shaking my head in disbelief. What ended up being a mistake of sorts actually turned out to be one of my favorite images from that trip. It has a very left-brain/right-brain vibe to it I think. Besides the fact this was the spot of our wedding, when I look at this photo now it reminds me that you can find peace, love, and understanding in the chaos in a metaphorical kind of way. But then again, it could be just a bunch of squiggly lines.
How I Shot This
The Photo Talk
All In One Shot
Last year Cheryl and I upgraded our camping experience and invested in a new to us pop-up camper. Before we got Myrtle the Turtle (the name for our pop-up), we tent camped in the state parks where there wasn’t too many light sources to deal with other than the light coming from the camp fire. Now that we have Myrtle, camping in an RV campground was going to be a newer experience with more light surrounding us. On one of our last camping trips up along the North Shore last September, we stayed at the Burlington Bay Campground in Two Harbors and made it our home base for a several days. On one of the first couple of nights there, we had the good fortune of having some nice weather and clear skies. Not letting that fortune go to waste, we took the opportunity to do some photos of the night sky.
We could have gone almost anywhere along the North Shore where there would have been minimal light pollution, but we got a late start making a plan on where to go and in the end decided to set up on the beach next to the campground. It wasn’t the ideal spot for photographing the night sky, but we did try to make the best of it. I started making a few exposures, but I was struggling to get the results that my mind’s eye was seeing. After about an hour or so and feeling a little defeated, I decided to call it the night and started to pack up my camera gear when I had a sudden moment of inspiration! Since all I was doing was photographing the available light, I thought why not try to use that to my advantage and do a little experiment. With the exposure time set around 20 seconds and a flashlight in my hand, I asked my lovely wife to walk into the frame with me where I turned on the flashlight in the last couple of seconds of the exposure. The end result created a ghostly like image of us with the stars illuminating the sky above and the street light nearby giving the ground below us a warm reddish/orange glow all in one shot. I enhanced this image a little more in Adobe Lightroom Classic. I used the Highlights and Shadow sliders to balance the exposure and set the Noise Reduction value to about 50 to help minimize the grain.
Even though I didn’t get the images I initially wanted, I did manage to create something a little better and different in my opinion. I got to spend time with my wife, breathe in the cool night air, listen to the sounds of the waves rolling up on the beach, and let the twinkling lights of the stars fill my eyes.
How I Shot This
The Photo Talk
Through The Looking Glass
While staying at my Mother-in-law’s house in Mid-October, I had the rare opportunity to see and take a few photographs of the elusive coyote that hangs around the area. That morning while having coffee, we saw our furry friend cautiously walk out from the tall grass. With only moments to spare, I quickly got my camera and long lens from the other room and headed out onto the porch that overlooks the backyard. I managed to snap a few photos before it ran off back into wooded area. Unfortunately, the porch was enclosed and I ended up shooting through the window glass.
The coyote was at least 50+ yards away. The available light was not the greatest and I did not have any sort of mono or tripod available. I hand held my 100-400mm lens wide open at f/5.6, the camera shutter speed was set at 1/400 of a second and the ISO was set at 4000. I timed out my breathing and stayed still the best I could so that I could get a fairly decent shot or two. Since I did shoot through a window and at a higher ISO, I relied on the the Dehaze and Noise Reduction sliders in Adobe Lightroom Classic to help bring out and maintain the details of the image. I also had to do a fairly significant crop that let me recompose the image. I set the coyote slightly off center which allowed me to show how well it can blend with the environment in which it came from.
Even though the situation and shooting conditions were not ideal and that I was shooting through window glass, I still like how this image turned out. A lot of the time (at least in my opinion), a photograph does not always have to be technically sound or look pretty to be a great image. If a photo can invoke a feeling and/or memory, that is what makes the photo truly great. Up until that moment, I have never observed or ever seen a coyote in person. Now that I have this photo, I can reflect and remember how great this moment was and think about what I can do next time if I had this opportunity again.