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.