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'