Saturday, February 13, 2010

Spokane Scenes, keep going away

So, today, away goes the Alaskan Tavern, in Hillyard.

Ironically, this week I have been discussing allowing use rights for a number of Hillyard night scenes, including the one of the Alaskan. That image was a combo of layers, with a desaturated layer at the front, and color images lined up behind it. Regardless, that image is representative of what "used to be there."

I have mixed feelings about the departure of the Alaskan. The first arrest I ever made when I was working by myself, was of a drunk from the Alaskan. He crashed an empty beer pitcher over someones head, and I was just a few blocks away when I got the call. In subsequent years, there were inumerable calls for service from the Alaskan, and another Tavern south of it (no longer here). One brawl with our officers occurred as the Alaskan closed one night, and fights broke out in the streets. I remember going to a 99 call (officer needs help urgently) and every officer in the county headed to the scene. 16 arrests later, order was restored. So, I hate to see old buildings close (or worse), but this one has mixed feelings from me.

It is places like this though, that I am glad I was able to document, prior to a demise. I suppose some people actually enjoyed their times at the Alaskan, so for them this has some emotional meaning and perhaps a sense of loss.

One other location that I shot was also a location that will be missed. Ella's downtown on West First was also a location of note, in an area I spent a lot of my former life in policing at. Ella's was the answer to many police problems in the area, and a great place to "take back the neighborhood," from the crooks that seemed to appear from every crack in the sidewalks." Ella's has also been missed by many, and I legitimately miss that place, as opposed to the other one I spoke of above. I recorded Ella's Supper Club, at:

I hate to see Spokane Night Scenes disappear, but I'll keep shooting them. That way we can at least look back. I'm not sure what memories like these are worth to some folks, but personally I am glad I documented them before they disappeared.

John D. Moore, CPP
Spokane Night Scenes

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Night photography in Spokane, an affliction which is contagious

Last night I left my cameras in the office, and met with a number of Spokane photographers, for a series of exercises I had set up for them. Members of the Photographic Society of America, Spokane Camera Club, Inland Outlook Photo Club, and even some non affiliated photographers. I led the group to the location for exercise 1, and for the next two hours, I totally enjoyed this experience.

The second location was the same location I had shot the night before, and the group immediately recognized that this sculpture (Centennial Sculpture) that was floating in the Spokane River, was actually moving constantly. So now the group needed to adjust for motion in the foreground, as well as retain the background, which was not moving. After about twenty minutes, I started painting the sculpture with a red filter on my Big Max flashlight. I switched it to blue after about 15 minutes, and then one of the other photographers took out his Big Max so we could hit the sculpture with red and blue at the same time. Wow, some of these folks, "nailed it." Although I was not able to see the final products, I could see in their on camera screens, that the red and blue lights really got them some great shots. Having a second person to handle some of this activity such as the Big Max, was evident to me last night. Doing it by myself sure has it's limitations.

All in all, hanging out with these photographers was nothing but "fun." Using some rear screen synch exercises was good for all of them, and timing the rear curtain synch shots is sometimes hard to get "just right." It takes a little doing, but I think that the group pushed the envelope just fine.

I'll get another evening set up for a couple of weeks from now. Hopefully we can give Riverfront Park a rest, and I am thinking that the next location for the night shooting photographers might be Hillyard. All of the new streetlights are finally going in, and then I can gather them at the Hillyard Skatepark, for a somewhat complicated effort at painting with color. Should be fun, no matter what.

I have confirmed my access to the Clocktower in Riverfront Park, in March. I'm going up after a sunset, to shoot from the top of the tower, as it gets darker and darker. Should not only be fun, but there might be some fab shots of the RFP area, downtown, and of course the automobile light trails on Spokane Falls Blvd, and Washington/Stevens.

Today I added one more version of a shoot I did this week, at the "Centennial Sculpture." I added one to the website yesterday, and today I added a script to load a second image in which the lights used on the Big Max were amber lenses. A blend of three images, akin to an HDR approach, the second image was taken about thirty minutes before the red one was.

If any other Spokane photographers want to join up with the "night shooter group," you are most welcome. Send me your contact info and I'll add you to the list of photogs getting all of the location and time information. Just get ready for some fun, and maybe some outside the box photography.


Tuesday, February 09, 2010

What is old, can also be new

So, I had one free evening before I took out as many as 40 photographers, to shoot Spokane Night Scenes. I grabbed the cameras, and headed down to Riverfront Park, to revisit the art/sculpture that has been in the river, for many years. Have I shot this before? "Oh yeah," many times. Yet, this scene just had to be approached differently, and with some color added.

There is no light for this Spokane river sculpture, so I brought my own. I began shooting this scene with an amber lens on the Big Max flashlight, and then switched to blue. After switching again, this time to red, it seemed clearer in the rear screen viewer of the Canon 40D. The metal of the sculpture seemed to glow with the red light on it, and it still appeared that way after the CR2 files were inspected on the computer.

This sculpture continually moves, and is unlike any landscape effort a low light photographer can make. You can shoot using rear curtain synch, but the challenge was to try and get it, without motion blur, using the colors from the Big Max. As I take out all of the photographers tonight, they will find out just how "easy," trying to avoid the motion blur is at this location. Yep, a built in challenge.

Here is an edited version using the red Big Max lens.

I might owe an apology to a guy who was sitting at this location, feeding the ducks. He had at least a hundred ducks feeding when I got there, and as soon as I turned on the Big Max flashlight the first time, all the Ducks he had assembled took off in a big hurry. I'm not sure if the ducks are color blind, but the amber lens on the Big Max, really drove them all away. So, the guy who had been feeding them got up and ambled away from my disruptive activities.

This evening I wanted to look at some sculptures on the south side of the north river channel. West of the performing arts center, there is an invisible sculpture called, "Moon Crater." There are no lights in here, and I almost walked right by it before I saw that something was there. I hit it a few times with the Big Max, but that light was just too powerful. I turned on my headlamp, but that made no difference in lighting the sculpture. So I just shot the "Moon Crater," in the darkness. At about a minute into a BULB exposure, I screened that length of shot, and it was apparent that the sculpture could be seen with just longer exposures.

Here is a cropped version of "Moon Crater."


Sunday, February 07, 2010

Session scheduled for Spokane Night Shooters

This week I have scheduled a night session for the 40 Spokane photographers who have contacted me with an interest in shooting night photographs. Some of the night shooters are members of the Spokane Camera Club, the Photographic Society of America, Inland Outlook Photo Club, and the Spokane Valley Camera Club. A few of the night shooters are unaffiliated with any Spokane Photo club.

This session will be on Tuesday evening, February 9th, 2010. The session will be no longer than two hours (I think), and I have it broken down into three exercises, with one additional exercise scheduled, depending on any available time.

I'll leave my cameras in my office, since I will be trying to help attendees to get their shot. This is not an evening for me to try and get creative, but if I can get others enthused about going out in low light, I'll go away happy.

Details on this shoot is as follows.


Slideshow from last weeks night photo class (FLASH PROGRAM)

This session will "focus," mainly on Motion after dark, and also on Rear Curtain Synch. Examples of Rear Curtain Synch and motion are here:

Meet at the Ice Arena for some short housekeeping items, at the bleacher section, at 5:30 PM. Then off to shoot location 1. Night shooters are instructed to review their cameras owners manual, as well as their external flash owners manual. Research your hardware's capability to do Rear Curtain Synch shooting.

Next night shoot is not likely to be in RFP, and not likely to be on a Tuesday evening. Info to follow on that session.

John D. Moore, CPP
Spokane Night Scenes