Sunday afternoon I had to get out of the house. I didn’t think that there would be much to shoot around town judging by the mostly dry pond last week, so I just drove out to Inks Lake in the late afternoon. The sky was mostly clear and summer has not quite let go its grip yet, so it is still mostly hot outside.
When I got to the park, I decided that I was going to walk around with only the macro lens and see what I could do. I had hopes of lizards and snakes, but I generally only found insects. Below is a dragonfly who was calm enough for me to shoot, though he stayed in the shade. He allowed me to get somewhat close and adjust focus before flying away.
Shot with Irix 150mm macro lens at f/2.8, 1/1000s, ISO3200. It was very shady, so I had to use a relatively high ISO and this may result in a slight lack of sharpness. I would have liked to get in closer as the bug has interesting eyes. I took some other bug pictures, but they didn’t really turn out well.
I also worked on this plant with the sunset in the trees behind it. I got way back and near the ground to try to frame it in vertically.
Not sure it worked out as good as it looked in the camera when I was taking it. I think it does look like a rather typical photo from hiking around the park. It also really puts the camera’s dynamic range to the test with the bright sky in the background.
As the sun set, I wandered around the granite near a fishing pier. It was a breezy evening and the water was kind of choppy. I studied a while about how I wanted to frame the pier. I decided that I mostly wanted the pier to have the water in the background and not intersect with the land if possible. And then, bright orange streaks began to explode across the sky from the west. Below is a long exposure with the streaks.
This photo may look over-saturated, but I think that it is less dramatic and colorful than the actual scene. Looking at the back of the camera after this 60 second exposure, I figured that I had the best photo of the evening. In hindsight, I wonder if I could have moved over to the right to get the orange rays of sun more centered. I was climbing around on granite and I may have been as far as I could go without dropping down quite a bit.
To take the long exposures, I put a 10-stop ND filter on the front of the camera as shown below. The rectangular filter element can easily slide up and out of the holder to allow you to compose and focus and find your exposure. Then you can slide the filter in and adjust the shutter speed to account for the 10 stops of filtering. This increases the necessary shutter time by 1000x allowing you to take long exposures. Below is a grainy photo of the filter on my camera taken with my phone; it was getting dark and I had to brighten this photo up quite a bit in Lightroom.
As blue hour progressed into twilight, the sky darkened and the oranges on the horizon deepened. This allowed the lights on the pier to begin to compete with the sky for dominance in the photos.
For the following photo, I went down on the shoreline closer to the pier. The lights on the pier provided a lot of colorful contrast that I thought came out nicely in the foreground with the orange outline of the horizon in the background.
This was a 30 second exposure. The diagonal line of the shore on the right is mostly black, negative space, but it gives the pier somewhere to be. The pier does intersect the shoreline in the background, but I think this is OK because it is lit and the background is very dark. The long exposure gives the scene a very calm, still evening mood even though the water was actually a bit choppy from the wind. I just need a lonely fisherman to complete the story.
I then put the tripod down low to get the plants in the foreground. I think I was using the 6-stop filter by now as it was getting so dark. The pier has some nice warm colors against the darker, cooler surroundings.
The above image was shot at 23mm compared to 35mm for the others, and the wider you get the more severe the vignetting gets when using a filter. I did correct for it some in Lightroom, but I mostly don’t mind it. You can also see the motion in the trees beyond the pier showing how windy it was. The highlights along the granite shoreline in the foreground really turned out nicely in this image. You can also see the blurry thin crescent of the moon setting in the west over the 90 seconds of this exposure. Maybe I should have stopped down the aperture to get some more flare in the pier lights.
As it got darker, I stared at the sky and willed myself to see what I thought was the briefest hint of the Milky Way. So, I decided to try to shoot a picture of it. It was still twilight, and there were clouds on the southern horizon that would soon be glowing with light from the city of Marble Falls, but I gave it a try.
The below image is taken to the left of the pier, with plenty of light on the granite and plants below. There is also a distant headlight trail in the far right. You can make out the hint of the Milky Way in the sky, along with a couple of airplanes. Airplanes leave a dotted trail because of flashing lights, a satellite or meteor would leave a solid line in the image.
I shot this with a Rokinon 14mm f/2.4 manual focus lens. Despite being a relatively cheap fast wide angle lens, it shows very little coma at the edges of the frame.
I processed this by putting a gradient filter over the foreground, which was very bright, and brought it down a lot. I also brought down the blue luminance to darken the twilight sky and let the stars show up a bit. I put a mask over the milky way and brought it up a little and added contrast.
It was a nice evening and what made it better was remembering to have a memory card in my camera. Thanks for reading. Leave a comment below if you like.