Friday, January 22, 2010

Downtown Spokane and Riverfront Park. Once again, a most colorful visit

This has, in the main, been a pretty productive week. I have spent about 5 hours so far wandering around the Arena, Riverfront Park, and also Downtown Spokane. While it may seem redundant to continue to go back to all the usual locations, they look different every single time.

Last night I enjoyed my second evening shooting images after dark, in some very familiar territory in Riverfront Park. I started the night shoot east of the northbound lane on the Washington Street Couplet. I'll get to those images likely tomorrow, but there were other images to take.

My next stop was just west of the Washington Street Couplet, on the north edge of the south Spokane River channel. The "floating sculpture in the water," has been shot by everyone who goes into this park...including me, many times before. There was some contrast left in the darkening skies, so I shot a series of images of the sculpture. Since the sculpture is continually moving, I shot it with Rear Curtain synch, and allowed the bright external flash to freeze the moving river art after a variety of exposures using all BULB settings. An average setting was about 7 seconds, at F8, ISO 100.

Next it was on to the footbridge west of the Washington Street Couplet. My original thought was to grab the river as it flowed under the footbridge, to capture some reflections. After I shot that way for about 15 minutes, I began to shoot with a Rear Curtain synch setup, to see if I could partially expose the vehicles on top of the southbound lanes, as I used BULB to expose the reflections in the water below. My first customer was an STA bus that just happened to be going south in the lane closest to my camera position. The light trails were produced pretty well, and the STA bus also produced reflections on the river below since it was a very high profile on the bridge.

I walked west in Riverfront Park, and observed some very intense red and blue lights that I had not observed before. I walked over to the area east of Avista (Washington Water Power), and found that three of the Avista windows were made up in brilliant colors. I also ran into another photographer at this time, which is very unusual. Dean Huggins is the President of the Inland Outlook Camera Club, and we began to shoot this visual presentation together. Following those images Dean mentioned that we might inspect the river from the Howard bridge, to inspect any reflections from Avista. They were certainly there, and we captured those.

All in all this weeks shoots have been pretty productive. I'll likely be out and about tomorrow evening to get my three night shooting trips completed for this week. Possibly back downtown to all the "usual locations."

One other thing. I am interested in doing a complete nighttime reshoot over in Hillyard, as soon as all the new streetlights have been completely installed. Not sure when that is going to happen, but Hillyard is on the list of things to do, once again.


Thursday, January 21, 2010

Color and Motion, after dark

This week I was determined to "slow down, the STA buses. No, they were not speeding, but in the past they were always constantly in motion as they drove completely through an image I was set up to take. As an STA bus cruised through whatever photo I was shooting, there were always colors from the various lights adorning each bus, but they were just that....lights and light streaks.

Tonight's project was to display as much of the bus as possible, as it traveled at a moderate speed. I went down to the area of the Arena, where STA had set up a bus transportation hub, for the 2010 Figure skating Championships. I wanted something recognizable in the shot, so I went to the north side of Mallon, which allowed the Flower Mill to be seen. Then I just waited as the buses came in to load and unload their passengers. As the buses departed, I pressed the shutter release (BULB), and as the bus came closer into the right side of the frame, I released the shutter release which activated the external Canon flash (Canon EX). The shutter was open for an average of 7 seconds before the flash ended the exposure, but for the first time I was able to actually see much of the STA bus as it went through the frame, from left to right. Rear curtain synch is what I call the operation, although others call it a variety of terms.

I was approached during the shoot by a gentleman named Steve (Steve Blaska), who was a very friendly guy. We spoke for a period of time about the STA bus photos I was shooting, and I showed him a few of them on the rear screen viewer of the Canon 40D. Steve handed me his biz card, which identified Steve as the STA Director of Operations. It was fun to take a break from standing around holding the tethered shutter release, and nice to see the reaction from Steve as he viewed a somewhat small screen with his buses going by.

I did put one image online, although I would like to do this project once again. My timing to get the bus in the right spot never seemed accurate enough. I mean how tough can it be to just let go of the pushbutton tethered shutter release? Well, for me, it seemed like I always managed to allow the front end of the bus to get too far to the right of the frame, whereby removing the front end of the bus entirely. The buses were shot as they were starting from a dead stop, so at about 5 seconds into the exposure their speed had really increased. At any rate, I was able to capture a bus, in its entirety, from a dead stop as it went through the entire frame of the camera.

Next up was something more traditional. I had targeted the LED sign displaying info about the 2010 Figure skating championships at the Arena. This sign (SW corner of Boone and Washington) was very blurry, so I skipped shooting the sign. I walked to the east side of the Arena, where I generated a series of images of the east entry area at the Arena. I added one of these images online at:

I'll try and get out again this evening, to search for more color in downtown Spokane, and Riverfront Park. As long as I don't forget to bring gloves this time, it should be another fun photo op.

John D. Moore, CPP
Spokane Night Scenes