Sunday, December 20, 2009

Searching for Christmas 2009 nighttime color, in downtown Spokane

So, the goal of this shoot was to find color, during the Christmas season, in downtown Spokane. I was hoping to find color in places other than where the “usual suspects,” are.

On the south side of the Lincoln building at Riverside and Lincoln, I found color atop the Lincoln buildings southern walls, looking straight up.

I’m not a traditional practitioner of shooting “leading lines,” but I think that all the different angles and lines are helpful in displaying the color on top of the Lincoln building.


Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Spokane Night Photographers

And so the fun begins

Night shooting is a lot of fun. If it isn’t, you are doing it wrong.

One way to get started, at least locally, is to join up with a number of other night shooters who go out with me once or twice a month, to shoot different types of locations. No cost involved, and you can have both fun, and also learn some things. Right now, I have about 30 listed night shooters, who attend the on-location shoots. I tend to break the groups down into smaller numbers instead of getting thirty out there at once, but my groups tend to run about 12-14 people at each location.

For me, this is the “season.” It gets dark early, and you can shoot at night without having to spend all night outdoors carting all of your gear around. This past Sunday, I was joined by about a dozen photogs on the Riverpoint Campus just east of downtown Spokane. My goals of the evening were to get the photogs into a situation that they would have to begin to manage high intensity lighting features. After about 45 minutes, I took them to a second location on the Riverpoint Campus where there was darkness, and almost the exact opposite of what they shot earlier.

Exposure to these situations can be helpful in the future, and having other photogs around can give everyone different ideas. All of these events are “outside the box opportunities.” There is usually more than one way to accomplish each objective, but after developing a workflow at a location, it can prepare you to deal with just about anything in front of the lens.

It isn’t a secret that I love shooting night scenes. To invite all of these folks out to different locations and see them enjoy what they are doing, make a few hours a totally enjoyable experience. Some of the night shooters are not affiliated with any local camera or photo organization. Some are members of the Spokane Camera Club, Spokane Valley Camera Club, Photographic Society of America, or Inland Outlook Photo Club. Some are very basic shooters, some are moderately experienced, and a few are advanced level photographers. The varied skill levels are very helpful in developing answers to photogs questions who are using a variety of camera equipment brands.

Did I mention that night shooting was fun? Of course I did, and it is a lot of fun. I tend to take my groups to areas I have shot before, and I leave my cameras at home in the office. It was hard for me to do that in the beginning, but I found out that coaching and helping some of the others cannot be done successfully if I am trying to shoot for myself. So, I develop my targets and visit them either before, or after the evenings I schedule night shoots around Spokane.

We have room for more shooters, if you want to visit Spokane locations after dark with some others who want to try to broaden their shooting skills. Let’s face it. We live in a beautiful place, and it actually gets prettier as the sun goes down. Lots of different things going on, different lighting and activity centers, and lots of motion. For years I saw very, very, few photographers after dark. Now, I get to visit with at least a dozen or so each time a new night shoot is scheduled. Breaking the existing group in half to shoot the same location on different evenings has been helpful in managing the numbers of photogs in attendance. I am interested in challenging each of the night shooters to a full blown Spokane project, in the future. Something that would combine the developed skills of ALL the photographers, into a single objective. I am testing the waters right now with my local Spokane community contacts, but for now all I can say is stay tuned for a fairly large Spokane project which can use all of the photographers in one evening’s project.


Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Night shooters FAQ's

Here are some questions that have come in this morning, as well as from other night shooters.

Do I need a tripod?

The short answer is yes. Image stabilization might be terrific for single shots, but to combine a series of shots means, your PLATFORM CANNOT move. You have to shoot multiple shots from exactly the same spot and camera position. Blending them, or layering them in post shooting processes will produce a finished shot.

Do I need a flashlight?

Yes, you do. Working with a piece of equipment after sunset presents a series of intellectual challenges for all night shooters. This is not just present in basic or midlevel shooters. To streamline your efforts of being able to get around a site safely, and to get around your camera quickly, you need to bring a light.

I tend to operate with multiple lights including a headlamp, and also a small handheld flashlight. I like to use red filters or lenses to mitigate night blindness for myself as well as others who might also be shooting in the same area. When the red filter is not necessary, you use plain old white light to get around safely.

What do I wear?

Not a silly question, as was asked by a couple of photogs locally. This time of year it can get cold, and based on the last two winters in Spokane, we are quite familiar with all of that stuff. Comfortable clothing, usually several light layers. Visibility at night can be important, especially if you are in and around traffic, so a lighter colored or reflective outer layer might be recommended.

Shoes? Yep, bring them along. Sturdy shoes or boots are a must for shooting after dark. Kinda silly? No, not really, since falls with expensive equipment can ruin anyone’s evening. Falls on ice, can cause more than just injury to equipment, so good sturdy shoes are a must.

How many shots do I need?

Interesting question, well, sorta interesting. Some shooters have written me and advised that they can get what they want in only one shot. I think that is outstanding, if it is really what is happening. I have never really had much success with one shot night shooting efforts. On some night shoots I average 400 images at one site, and add them together (not all of them) after they are reviewed on the computer.

At the least I need three shots at a location, which will produce a final outcome. In determining a start point, you can use the viewfinder to determine a start point (or rear screen display). A start point will allow you to view much of the detail of the image, especially in the darkest (shadow) spots. This same view will also show you that your lights (highlights) are almost always totally blown out, but the details look good. Once you have reached the start point, then I shoot one series at this point. Following that I INCREASE the shutter speed, normally quite a bit. This almost always takes away the detail you saw before, but what you also see is that the highlights (ambient lighting) is now very visible without being blown out at all. After being satisfied with the fastest shutter speed shot, you do the opposite, which means you now slow down the shutter speed, and go beyond the spot you found earlier which showed much of the detail. This will really be blown out as far as highlights go, but you will lack very little in detail that is hiding in the shadows. I shoot totally in MANUAL, so I can determine what it is the camera is doing. This type of workflow may be a little different than some other photogs, but it works for me.

What is important now is that in ALL of these different shots, you have NOT MOVED THE TRIPOD OR CAMERA. Combining the three views of your shot are now the editing challenge, but it is likely to reveal a great view of a location after darkness. A wireless shutter release, or tethered shutter release are helpful. It is also helpful to have setup the basics of the camera before you got to the site, so you do not have to worry about adjusting ISO levels or FStops. Determine those in advance and then leave them only need to adjust shutter speed after that.

Sound simple? Well, it sorta is. Each location has its issues though, but if you go to these sites with some basic tools to work with, you can make the site and camera modifications required. In most cases you only need to adjust a shutter speed.


Sunday, November 15, 2009

Spokane Regional Clean Air Agency has contracted with Spokane Night Scenes

The Spokane Regional Clean Air Agency has contracted with Spokane Night Scenes for licensed image use (2 images) for their new 2010 Calendar.

The images chosen by the Spokane Regional Clean Air Agency for the 2010 Calendar are: (second image)


Spokane Night Scenes chosen for 2010 Spokane Relocation Guide

Greater Spokane Incorporated

The Spokane Chamber and Spokane EDC have contracted with Spokane Night Scenes for a cover image for their new 2010 Spokane Relocation Guide. A sample of the 2009 relocation guide is here:

A low resolution image of the Spokane Night Scenes image chosen by Greater Spokane Inc., is located here:

We are lucky to live in a beautiful place, and those relocating to Spokane will find out soon.


Thursday, November 12, 2009

Mission Street bridge, Spokane, Washington

Mission Street bridge, Spokane, Washington

I have been involved in a neighborhood photo shoot for the past two weeks, and as I drove to the target neighborhood, I noticed some reflections from the Mission Street Bridge. This bridge came to my attention as City crews labored on the bridge with equipment lowered over the side of the bridge. It appeared they were doing repairs or inspections (or both). It seemed like a potential target for the cameras after dark, largely because of the reflection potential.

A couple of nights ago I made it to the Mission Street Bridge about 30 minutes after sunset. The reflections were not as pronounced as I anticipated, but I grabbed the Canon with the wide angled lens (11x18), and decided to shoot the bridge anyhow. I wanted to try and capture some automobile traffic lights crossing the bridge, although most of the headlights were below the walls on the sides of the bridge.

I started with 15 second exposures, but it was apparent with those shots that this was going to take much longer exposures to capture the details of the bridge. I settled on 1 minute BULB exposures at F8, and ISO 100. The one minute exposures helped tame the ambient lights, but much of the details were still too dark. By the time I opened up the shutter for about two minutes, the details became apparent. I settled on images of 1:45 and 2:13 and blended those the following day on the computer. It is amazing how dark it can get in areas without street lights, even if you are shooting towards much brighter areas.

Shooting after dark really does draw attention to what it is I am doing. I had a couple of SPD vehicles do a couple of drive by’s, and also someone in a red pickup truck. The truck driver might have thought I was breaking into my XL7 as it was so dark my headlamp was likely all that could be seen. I think that in the future I need to just bite the bullet and wear a reflective vest even when not immediately adjacent to automobile traffic. Sometimes it is not a bad idea to be seen, since darkness can obscure the intent of a photographer at any given site. Shooting photos after dark, and in total darkness, is a wacko endeavor in and of itself. So, adding one more element for safety reasons is not as strange as it might sound…. I guess.

I have edited two versions of the Mission Street Bridge shots, and one of those has been added to the Spokane Night Scenes website at:

The actual location for the series of shots is at:
N 47º 40.276'
W 117º 23.227'


Tuesday, November 03, 2009

If there appears to be nothing, there has to be something

One of the issues around night shooting is the number of unlit or dimly lit targets. These same targets might be very distinctive in daylight, but when the sun goes down, they simply disappear.

Such was the case over on the Riverpoint Campus. This campus has very distinctive art installations (sculptures), and these are very well identified in daylight. At night, some of these same art sculptures vanish into darkness. On the one hand, it might simply be easy to just skip them and move on to something better lighted. Yet, there is always the challenge of wondering what the sculptures might look like if there was ample light, and color, provided to them after dark. Perhaps these daytime art sculptures might look dramatically different when it gets dark.

One of these sculptures was a project I shot last year. This project is titled “Cooperation.”

After dark, this sculpture was nestled into complete darkness. The goal was to illuminate this project with different colors, and make it distinctive in a series of photographs. After shooting this target with different colors, and many bracketed shots while painting with color, the images could be blended into the final shot.

On Sunday night, I took a group of about 14 photogs out to the Riverpoint Campus, so they could be faced with extreme bright lights:

(Light Reading at:,

I also wanted them to deal with complete darkness. While there I noticed this set of three rocks in an area that I had not paid any attention to before. It looked just like a sculpture, but it was also an object I could not find on the list of Art objects identified on the Riverpoint Campus website. I was purposely carrying no cameras with me the night I took the photogs with me to Riverpoint, so I talked one of the photogs into setting up a shot with his Nikon, so I could paint these three rocks and see how distinctive this approach could be. To me, it looked dynamite, so I made a mental note to go back the following night to shoot these three rocks for myself.

Last night I went back to the Riverpoint Campus and painted the three rocks with a variety of colors, in different presentations of color on each surface. I used a wide angle lens so I could get close (11x18), and the exposures ranged from 3 to 8 seconds per exposure (at F8, ISO 100). After 102 images shot, and speaking to a number of curious passersby, it was time to call it a day as far as lighting up these rocks.

Today I settled on one presentation of the three colors used, and added it to the web:

I have a request in this morning to the WSU Art committee, so I can try and identify what this work is titled, and who the original artist is that created the work. Once I get that data I can link to that artist and identify what these three rocks are actually called.

This is an example of a piece of art that disappears after dark, but it also represents an intellectual challenge to bring it back to life using color.


Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Hillyard Skate Park, Spokane, Washington

Recently I saw a few blown out daylight images of the City Park, just north of the downtown Hillyard business district. A number of the images displayed the Hillyard Skate Park, during daylight. As I looked at these really bright images, it gave me a pause for thought. What would this place look at after dark? I was wondering about how I could try and display the curves in the massive amount of concrete poured at the Skate Park in Hillyard.

Building a system or process, was the next step…and it had to be done during daylight. I traveled to the Hillyard Skate Park, and shot images in a 360 look, so I could review them later to come up with a plan. Shooting with my 18 x 200 was perfect for daylight, but, the field of view was too limited when applied to the curves and deeper areas of the Hillyard Skate Park. The only way to maximize this shoot was to go with an 11 x 18, at the widest view, and even then it would not completely cover the entire concrete areas. I settled on one specific area where I surmised I could throw red, blue and amber lights into the recesses of the various component areas of the concrete surfaces. To do so would require extremely long exposures, as I would have to walk into each area after the camera began the shot process. Then I would have to return and close the shutter with my wireless remote. I’d have to repeat this process in each area, and with each different color. What bothered me the most was leaving my camera on the tripod and simply walking away from it, but hopefully, there would be no people around after dark.

Last night I returned to the Hillyard Skate Park, with two cameras and two tripods in case I used both cameras at basically the same times. One camera was using the 18x200 lens, and the other was sporting the 11x18, which ultimately prevailed and the 18x200 was not used for any images. As I arrived, it was totally dark (pitch black) in the Hillyard Skate Park, but there were no people at the venue. I set up the 11x18 camera at the spot I decided on during the daylight visit, and I started lighting the foreground with red light from the Big Max flashlight. I began the shoot with a 10 second exposures, and even when I progressed all the way to 30 seconds, it was so dark I had to stop doing normal timed exposures, and I set the camera to a BULB setting so I could just run with what I was doing, until I was done with whatever I was doing.

I began shooting BULB shots for the blue areas of the shots, and it took about thirty seconds to get to and back from the blue areas of the shots. Add about 3 to 3 and a half minutes for the blue painting efforts in each area, and I started eating up a lot of time on each exposure. After doing the 2 blue areas, I shot with amber at the east side (rear) of the project. This amber area wrapped all the way around the red and blue areas, but most of the amber was influenced dramatically by all of the high pressure sodium lights which were shining in the distance (background light). In the final image, I can see the amber light that I shined from multiple directions, but it really never was as pronounced as I had originally hoped for. Blue was okay, and red was as “in your face,” as I could make it. Red did well, as it was also farther away from the background lighting, and the red area (and blue) was totally shielded from the influence of the background as those areas were really deeper in depth from the top of the concrete.

After about 30 individual BULB exposures, I had eaten up almost an hour and a half of time at the location. I quickly reviewed the RAW (CR2) images, and it appeared I would have enough material to blend after the files were displayed on the computers in the office.

Today, I added a low res version of a blended series of shots. A total of 7 images were needed for this version of the Hillyard Skate Park. It isn’t quite a pano view of Hillyard Skate Park, but the 11x18 was definitely the right choice to get as much of the concrete depths as possible. Concrete is actually kinda ugly stuff, and really plain. Until I began walking around this location with a LED headlamp and the Big Max flashlight, I never had given that much thought. At least now, there is a little color at the location.

Here is the Hillyard Skate Park, in north Spokane. (LOW RES)


Tuesday, September 29, 2009

There's daylight at Spokane Night Scenes

This summer, there have been a number of daylight "excuses,"to capture some colorful photographs. One of the "excuses," was the Annual PoW Wow in Spokane's Riverfront Park. This was a great source of color in 2008, and in 2009 the Pow Wow easily surpassed the moment this year.

I have installed a flash slide program of assorted Pow Wow images, online: This is a LARGE Flash program, and it is designed for those visitors who have high-speed, or broadband internet connections.

One other daylight project this summer, was the Gallery display of very large color prints (24 X 36, and 20 X 30) at the Liberty Theater in Toppenish, Washington. Known for it's historic murals all over town, it was fun to display down there. I had a chance to speak with local photography Pro's and that was a blast.

Then I got a chance to setup at Unity In The Community this year, at Riverfront Park. My daughter Erin Gibson was able to display her pencil Art with me, both at The Liberty Theater in Toppenish, as well as the booth setup in Riverfront Park here in Spokane. Her art is available at:

Lets face it, I am a night shooter. Yet, once in a while doing some things in daylight can be classified as fun (more or less). This weekend I had a chance to complete a community service project for the Friends of the Falls (FOF) in their Spokane River Cleanup event. I shot about 450 images this weekend, and I edited about 75 of those for FOF to use online and in their ongoing efforts with the Spokane River. One of the Spokane City Council members asked for a number of my FOF images from this weekend, and he displayed those at the City Council Meeting held last night at Spokane's City Hall.

I have a feeling that the images from this years event will be used by a few other non profit groups locally, since many were involved in the work on the banks of the Spokane River this year.


Shadle Aquatic Center sculpture, Spokane, Washington

Last week, one of the News releases I got from the City of Spokane, listed about 6-7 art objects, which either had been, or would be, installed around Spokane. Seemed to me an opportunity to try and capture these art objects, if possible, after dark. I emailed my contact at City Parks, and they were informed of the effort, in case any of the images could be helpful to Spokane Parks.

The first visit was to the Shadle Aquatic Center, on West Wellesley. This art (sculpture), contained three ten foot tall objects, standing side by side. The surfaces of the sculptures were fairly shiny, so it appeared that this would actually help reflect any projected light from a colored flashlight lens. Bad news was, that almost directly overhead was a high-pressure sodium streetlight. It totally bathed the entire area in orange light, and it so overwhelmed the color schemes, I thought the project might be doomed from the start.

Each of the parts of the sculpture were bathed in a different color light, although I was unable to use amber because of the streetlight. I used regular white light on the center of the sculpture, although it turned to gold because of the streetlight. Red was fairly consistent with the actual colors used, and blue was almost totally eaten up by the direct light from above (streetlight).

Putting all of the bracketed images on the computer screen the next day, gave me some hope that I could make my way out of the mess created by the streetlight. One way was to create a layer of totally desaturated color. That layer became black and white, and it eliminated all of the intense color from the streetlight on the surroundings. I was able to add additional layers for the colored objects in the sculpture, and as a result I got rid of the streetlight impact on the area, and was able to display the colors used on each part of the sculpture.

Sometimes this night stuff cam drive you crazy, but if you don't get in a hurry, and the tripod gives you a very stable platform, you can just keep shooting as you make the adjustments at the scene.


Season of the night

That sounds like the title of a book, but for a night shooter, it is definitely a season of the night. It is always a good news – bad news season, meaning it’s great to shoot earlier in the evening, but it also means winter is on its way. So, in this area you take the good with the bad, and you search for targets and get out and shoot.

This season, there is an extensive list of do-overs. Reshooting some of the images taken in years past, albeit with much better equipment now. At some of the prior targets, the locations have undergone cosmetic changes, and shooting them once again allows for a comparison of the way “things used to be.” This part of the 2009-2010 season is not overly exciting, but documenting change should be done.

A month ago, I determined to shoot the hardscape waterfall at Mirabeau Park. It is a rather attractive area, and the falling water seems to be very popular with quite a few local people. In my evening spent at the waterfall, I had about thirty people watching throughout most of the process of painting the waterfall with light. I was a bit surprised by all of the watchers, but then again, watching someone shine red, blue, or amber and white light onto the adjacent structures must have been a tad unusual. It got so dark at this location, that the beams of light might have been all the people could see.

At Mirabeau, I wasn’t real happy with the paint job, and it will require another visit. First, it was so dark, that autofocus was useless. It was easily doable after shining a light onto the waterfall, as long as the light was amber, or white. The cameras would focus easily at that point. In switching to manual focus, the total darkness made it hard to focus on a specific point when using the mode for real time viewing on the back of the 40D. Viewing through the viewfinder was impossible in that darkness, and no headset or handheld flashlight that I used made much difference. After about twenty minutes of going back and forth, it became obvious that the best focus would be auto, and it would require white light on the waterfall. So, then it became a challenge to focus the camera, and keep the shutter half-way down, all the while you used a free hand to add a colored filter/lens to the Big Max flashlight, aim it and shine the colors onto the target. That took some doing, and that is one time I could have used a second person at the scene. So, next time out there I am going to invite at least one other photog out there so we can coordinate lights, camera, and action.

Then, there was the couple who somehow came up behind me in the darkness. I was busy doing the camera stuff, and they walked right up behind me, maybe two feet away. I never heard them because of the waterfall, and my eyes were on the colors I was shooting toward the water. The male asked me if I was going to sell any of the photos I had taken, and I literally jumped a foot off the surface. I am sure they had no idea they scared the hell out of me, since it was so dark out at that point. My headlamp was also on, so it likely blinded them a little when I turned around. They departed after some small talk, and I took a few minutes to settle down before I started trying to get back to the focusing issues.

I took about 200 images that night, with two cameras. One camera had an 11 – 18 wide angle lens, and the other used a 18 – 200. I felt comfortable with a fairly wide range at this site, and the choices of glass were fine. The only major glitch on this night was the total and absolute pitch black night. At many sites, I have at least some ambient light, but not on this occasion. The only lights in the neighborhood were lights that I brought with me, or wore on my forehead.

Although the standard practice of bracketing shots at varying shutter speeds was used; I just never got real happy with any of the blended shots. I did add one image using some blended shots, at 20-30 minutes after sunset.

A second image was added, at:

I’m not sure when Spokane County Parks will turn off the waterfall for the season, but I do plan on heading back out to this location for another after dark visit. Next time I’ll have to attack the night scene a little differently. If I only shot things in daylight, a second visit would not be required…..


Thursday, May 28, 2009

Spokane Night Scenes chosen for the Spokane Riverfront Park Map panels.

Spokane Night Scenes has been chosen for the image placement on the new Spokane Riverfront Park Map panels.

These maps are to be placed at central access areas in Riverfront Park, so that visitors to the park can see where they are and where the activity areas are throughout the park. These panels are scheduled for fabrication and placement in Riverfront Park by July 2009.

Enjoy the new maps in Riverfront Park.

A link to the new map is located HERE.

I resized the original art, and it is presented in a JPEG format.


Spokane Night Scenes at the historic Liberty Theater

I had an opportunity recently to display framed poster prints of Spokane Night Scenes images. Unlike my gallery displays in First Friday events in Spokane, this opportunity took me back to Toppenish, the Mural Capital of the State of Washington.

I got to display some selected poster prints at the historic Liberty Theater in Toppenish. The images were selected as a gallery display inside the Liberty Theater. I had some experience with the Liberty Theater in Toppenish, and at one point I developed a website for the Mid Valley Performing Arts in the Yakima Valley.

It was fun displaying the large Spokane Night Scenes poster prints, and I actually got to display my work with drawings completed by Erin (Moore) Gibson CFA. It was fun to do the gallery display with my daughter also displaying her framed art in the historic Liberty Theater building in Toppenish. For a look at Erin’s art, here is a link to her drawing efforts.

If I get a chance to display in the Liberty Theater again, I would not hesitate to take any of my large poster prints of Spokane Night Scenes to that area for gallery display. I let others choose what prints to display, and I might have chosen one or two others in place of what was otherwise selected. The people viewing the work had no complaints though, so maybe letting others pick out what was shown worked very well. For some reason, the image of the Perry Street Cafe seemed to be the most popular down there, and the pro photogs that I spoke with totally enjoyed the grayscale/color layering approach.

Exposing Spokane Night Scenes images to that region of the State was sure a lot of fun over the Memorial week period.


Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Spokane night photographers

There is one thing easy to notice, if you shoot after dark in Spokane. The first thing you notice is the absence of photographers shooting after dark. Next thing you notice, is that local photog groups tend to focus their efforts on daylight ventures such as photo walks, photo tours, and other daytime adventures. Any training, if offered or experienced may be good or bad, depending on the skill levels of the participants rather than a direct result of the skills of the project leader. As a result, marginal or worse photogs can develop other participants into marginal or worse participants.

My opinion? Certainly. Participating on group activities with photogs running helter skelter for their shots, can be problematic. How many times have I seen several photogs shots with two or three other photogs all lined up in the shot of the one wanting a photograph of something. How many times has one small subgroup of participants distracted other photogs from concentrating on what they intended to do, only to be looking at what this small subgroup is involved in.

Organizing small group activities is a challenge for the leaders, of that there is no doubt. If you are the leader, you need to focus most of you time on the group members, and not on what you think you might get in this photo shoot. Why? Some members of the group are just learning and they have questions. "How do you do this, how did you do that, why did you do that, where do I find that on my camera, how does it work, why should I do it that way?" In fairness to these members, they really need coaching. For a group leader interested in shooting, boy does that make it hard to do. So there is balance and there are sacrifices to be made on behalf of those who are learning. When I do small groups of night shooters, I shoot the scenes they will be taken to, days or even weeks BEFORE the group meets. I can concentrate on what I want, and when I take the group out, I leave my cameras in the office. Displaying some of your earlier results on a laptop or other such small display, can give the group members ideas on what you did, and how you did it. Then you take them out to the locations and walk them through their efforts. Some participants will succeed, some will not.

Many photogs simply enjoy the social aspects of the group shoot, and gaining technical skills is not their highest priority. Nonethleless, each member of the group can learn from each group leader, given the amount of time the leader can spend with each participant.

In my view, I wish there were more night shooters. In some communities there are night shooters, and they are formally organized into 501 C3 type organizations, and in other communities there are less formal structures. These groups shoot at night, although many of them begin their activities at sunset or slightly before. So, are there night shooters in Spokane? I have no clue, since in the past 5 years I have seen but a handful of photogs shooting after dark. It's too bad, since after dark, everything changes. By changes, I mean, REAL changes. Not just technical photography, but issues of safety. As a result, small groups of people together for an evening, is a very good thing...assuming that the leader spends time on what the group is doing, rather than what individual leaders are doing for themselves.

Night shooting is fun. It plainly is fun, and with a small group, it can be loads of fun. Yet, if there are few groups who have a particular night shooting interest, it can be very hard to find a learning experience. As a result, there seems to be an interest in beginning some type of night time shooters group. As done in San Francisco, and elsewhere, there are many groups who cater solely to night shooters. Since there has been some interest in a night shooters group of one kind or another, perhaps it is time for an assessment.

I would invite any photog interested in s night shooters group, to contact me. I can disseminate to interested parties, and perhaps, if the participant level seems adequate, we target a night shoot for the group members.

Keep up the good work everyone, and let me know if there is any interest in a night shooters group.


John D. Moore, CPP

Monday, May 11, 2009

Night shoots – A Spokane update.

In one sense of the word “Springtime,” it is a pleasure to see that it has arrived. After all, this winter was a disaster in more ways than one, and once again, it seemed to go on day after day with no end. Since complaints generally go on deaf ears, it is just one more notch in the level of experiences shared by many people, not just me.

Yet, it is the subtle changes in seasons that impact, at least slightly, what I do. Simply put, I shoot at night, exclusively. I can go out there with the masses with digital cameras in the daytime, but unless it is a community service project I am doing for someone, daylight is not a challenge. It just isn’t. Night shoots are ALWAYS a challenge, in many more ways than one. Yet, it is the challenge of darkness that is of interest to me.

In the past few months, I have focused on either downtown Spokane, or the North Side. One very fun project was for the Northeast Youth Center, at their annual Nighttime Easter Egg hunt. When I first got the announcement/release from Spokane Parks, I could imagine lots of colorful light trails running all over the place, perhaps with varied colors, and directions. After it began to get dark at Hays Park, the lighting possibilities were obvious, with hundreds of children and parents/grandparents running all over with glow lights or flashlights. Here are some of the images from the night:

Capturing all of the lights as they wandered through the field of view was pure fun and enjoyment. It can be said matter of factly, that the photographers that night (3) had as much fun as the kids did. I would not hesitate to jump out there next year when they do this event again. Now that I know the ropes of the event, capturing the lights will be much easier since I know how the process works for all of the people and kids.

In downtown Spokane, there are some new sites/sights. Maybe just new to me, but they are very colorful additions to different neighborhoods. Beginning with this next link, are a short series of images captured that evening. Just when you think downtown has nothing new; the camera can show that all things change over time.

A little more recent was a return to the Wandermere area (Business Park). There is something about these built up hardscape areas that make for some great intellectual challenges. It no longer is an issue of what the cameras can do, but what can you do to change or modify the appearance of the images at night, including a great deal of water. I shot this area last year, but along with another photographer, we went after the water up there once again. Painting somewhat drab waterfalls with light, can go a long way to modifying the look, without much alterations in RAW post processing. Taking the bracketed shots in various colors and blending them, can take each waterfall into something that could be, rather than what is currently.

On another occasion, I went down to Riverfront Park, as it was supposed to be a very foggy night. I got there ahead of most of the fog, but within a half hour of walking around and shooting a number of locations, on came the dense fog. Here is a short series of images, as the fog finally arrived down there.


Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Shooting in Hillyard

This week I visited Hillyard, and it was a tough photo op. Tough for a number of reasons, which included three or four drunks in the street screaming at each other. STA mercifully came by and picked up one of the drunks, and the others wandered off westbound from Market Street.

After getting the cameras and tripod out of the truck, I noticed an absence of color. Other than high pressure sodium street lights, there was not really any illumination to speak of. So, it was going to be a challenge to find some shots. Let’s remember, Hillyard is a historic community…..and I was determined to try and capture some of the buildings, poor lighting or not. Hillyard holds some historic moments for me, too…coming from my days at Spokane PD.

I captured some views of the Alaskan Lounge (Tavern), and then moved south shooting some angles of the street scenes. I found one well placed Mural, and that was about as far south as I made it on this visit.

Editing posed some challenges, since what I had really captured was an absence of color. So I began to layer each series of images, and I converted the top layers into black and white versions. As a result, I could then bring out any objects with color from the background layer. Mostly, it was the interiors of the buildings with large windows that offered some color. A few signs, and voila, some image captures in Spokane’s historic Hillyard.

I’m not done shooting in Hillyard, and perhaps there are a few locations I need to visit the next time out. I think I will try and make some contact with representatives of the Hillyard community and see if they have any ideas. One thing still holds true, as far as night shoots go. Some historic buildings that look great in daylight can look absolutely horrible after dark. Conversely, some things that are as ugly as the day is long (in daylight), can look vastly superior after dark. Only one way to find out which, is to go and take a look when the sun goes down.

So, at this point, I have added 4 images from the nights visit to Hillyard. They are largely grayscale, but as I mentioned previously, they are not totally black and white creations. Image number one is located:


Thursday, January 29, 2009

Request for a Spokane Ghost photographer

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Former scenes of madness and crime, in Spokane

I have three short term goals, and to take advantage of the early darkness, I need to get the goals completed soon. Goal one involves Spokane Night Scenes photography in Hillyard. Next, I want to shoot around the neighborhood in Spokane’s South Perry business district. My third goal was to get out in the fog, which I did a week or two ago in Spokane's Riverfront Park.

Hillyard has a history with me, although I am sure it is not of any official historical value. Each time I drive through Hillyard, I think of two things. First, was the madness of a street fight I responded to one night. I was working graveyard shift in my early police career (Spokane PD), and patrons from a bar emptied into the street at Queen and Market. A fight commenced that required just about every police officer in the city, as well as many Spokane County Deputies. We arrested 16 people, and a couple of our SPD guys had to make stops at Holy Family ER, before heading in to the jail to book in prisoners. That was one of my early police experiences with total and complete madness, and will not be one ever forgotten.

Another Hillyard memory is also police related. It involves the former US Bank location. I did a lot of robbery training for the staff at this former bank branch, with a very good friend and mentor Richard “Dick” Long who was the security director for ONB and later US Bank. Dick was such a good friend, that when he passed away, police department photographs of he and I doing training in Hillyard, became a much better memory than the total madness of the huge street fight at Queen and Market.

Since there is some historical value, generally, I am going to have to visit Hillyard after sunset, and see what things look like. I’ll have to deal with some parked cars, and considerable northbound traffic, but if I don’t like what I capture, it does not have to make it onto the web.

South Perry also has car parking and traffic flow, but there is something about what has transformed that small area into something very attractive, at least in daylight. To be sure, there are some police memories of mine in this area, too. The south Perry district was always good for an armed robbery or two, at the same locations (still is). Over the years, some really strange things happened in this area, but armed robberies seemed to be the bulk of my memories up there.

Today might be the day I can visit the South Perry district. I have a visit to the area on an unrelated issue, so maybe bringing some camera gear might give me the opportunity (if there is one) of capturing the South Perry district after dark.


How many individual parts equal one camera?

How many individual parts equal one camera?

That is a question being asked by a photographer I ran into last week in Riverfront Park. I was out one evening to get some fog shots, and I was approached by two people sporting a new Canon camera that they had gotten for Christmas. Although I am not exactly sure, it looked like one of the fairly new XSI models. It also looked like it had a 28 X 135 lens on this camera.

The couple initially asked questions about shooting images after dark, and as I conversed with them, I began to get the almost overpowering odor of beer breath. In my old job I used to smell that all the time, and to be sure, I was getting it again. In this process, I changed locations a couple of times, and they followed me around, with the camera carrier staggering from one side to the other on the wide pathway inside the northwest gate to the Park. I actually had tried to recruit this couple to the Spokane Camera Club, so I began to wonder what would happen if they ever showed up.

The two interested photographers stayed with me for a while longer, and were shooting something in the dark, about 50 feet east of where I had my tripod set up. I heard some yelling, and I saw one of them fall on the ice. There were the usual crashing noises, breaking glass, and swearing. Then silence.

The person who had been carrying the camera, got up and wiped all of the snow off, Then it looked like he was searching for something. The search went on for about 5 minutes, and then when I saw them pick up several different things it dawned on me that their new camera was now trashed. I know of three separate parts that were retrieved, and the lens was now a separate piece, and it was rattling when the guy shook it. The camera body (or what was left of it) was also rattling quite a bit.

Is there a moral to the story? Beats me, but maybe a little less liquor before a shoot might be a starter. Also, wearing shoes that can provide traction, and having a flashlight when shooting at night.

So, anyhow, maybe all of the pieces of this camera system will be put back together, although I doubt it can be saved. So, if a couple shows up to a Spokane Camera Club meeting with duct tape all over their camera, they might have an interesting story to tell you.

One other thing. Things have begun to slow down for the Moore family, so our night shooters will be back out shooting once again. I want you guys to shoot some motion shots, and if we have time next trip out we will do some panoramas after dark.

I’ll let you night shooters know the next targets, and locations. Likely in a week or two.