Saturday, March 13, 2010

A visit to Hillyard, with 15 photographers

So what do you get if you mix a visit to Hillyard, and add about 15 photographers? Of course you already know the answer. A very fun experience.

Last Sunday I coordinated a visit to Hillyard by what turned out to be a large group of night shooters. I thought maybe 6-8, but it turned out a lot greater numbers than that.

I met my group of about 15 photogs at Queen and Market streets, and briefed them on what to look for and a few safety issues while they were wandering in the area. At that point, the photographers all wandered away with their tripods and cameras. I normally do not take cameras with me when I do the group activities, but on this occasion I could not resist. My challenge for the evening was to shoot from no higher than 18 inches and to only use a wide angle lens (11 X 18mm). I needed to try and step out of my comfort zone at shooting at full extension on the tripod. I don’t use the center pole on the tripods normally, but the higher extension of the tripod legs seems to be a little easier on the back.

I had spent an afternoon visiting many of the merchants in Hillyard advising them that all of these good photographers would be in the area on Sunday evening. My hope was to generate some interest in having the merchants leave interior lights on, for some background and contrast. It worked for some merchants, but not for others. I was interested in shooting Aunt Beas Antiques with some interior lights on, but she forgot to light it up. As a result I shot it the way it was, from a height of 18 inches.

Next on my list of things to do, was to shoot the Capitol Tavern. Why, you ask? Beats me, but it was something that was closing within a few days, and I thought I might take an image or two of what “used to be.” Nothing special about this architecture, but “it is what it is, I guess.”

My last shots were of a business on the SW corner of Queen and Market. This merchant had advised they would illuminate the interior, but no such luck on this evening. At the height of 18 inches, with a wide angle lens, the angles of this place were nothing short of bizarre. There was really no color at all, so I desaturated and cropped much of what the camera allowed me to capture. This is another one of those images of a location that “is what it is.”

After I finished up with my camera, I took the group to Hillyard Skatepark, where it is TOTALLY DARK. One of the first photogs on scene actually fell completely into the first skating pit. He was unhurt, and I heard no glass breaking, so it appeared his investment was also okay. The goal at this location was to illuminate with various colors, all of the curves in the various concrete pits used by the skateboarders. I had shot this place before by myself, and it was a lengthy process lighting up one area with color and then retreating to my camera to get ready for the next color. With all of the photogs on this occasion, I shot no images, but helped the others get their shots. About half of the night shooters had acquired the Big Max (Brinkmann) handheld flashlights, with the colored lenses. I allowed them to use one of mine, and I basically gave assistance where I could. After about 45 minutes, I had to leave, but all of the other photogs were still at the scene at the Skatepark. I haven’t heard any reports of injuries, so I gather they all made it home intact.

I’ll do this again, for local photogs that are interested in shooting after dark. I think next time, I’ll keep my cameras in the office once again. Walking around and helping where I can is a good time, with all of these good people. It is really fun. Any Spokane area photogs who want to join the email list I have of night shooters, you are most welcome to do so. I guarantee one thing, we will NOT do group shoots in the summer. To me staying up that late is too much like work. So I am likely to do this for another month before we call it quits until fall. If I have to get out for some reason I will always do that, but my affliction with night shooting disease does not always have to infect someone else, at least during the summer months. It’s easy to get over the affliction, you do that by getting out and just doing it.


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