It’s been a little more than a week since my last post. My wife, 2 Cairn Terriers and I spent the Thanksgiving holiday at the Chula Vista RV Resort on San Diego Bay (if you have an RV I highly recommend staying there). We had a wonderful time together, and I was able to do a little shooting!
In addition to the photography, I also need to mention a resource that photographers should note when in San Diego – Georges Camera & Video. There are so few real camera stores around anymore that it’s a real treat to find one. I love George’s Camera, it’s packed full of all things photography, and they have a friendly and very knowledgable staff. I was able to find a Lowepro slinger bag that is working perfectly! If you’re in the North Park area of San Diego, be sure to visit George’s Camera!
Back to the photography! One of the things I’ve been wanting to do while in San Diego was to take a night/evening shot of the San Diego waterfront. I’ve seen so many great shots by other photographers online, and have always wanted to try it for myself.
One of my challenges was finding a suitable location. Although I’ve been to the Chula Vista and Coronado areas many times, I just couldn’t seem to find the right spot. That is until my morning bike ride around the Bay. The San Diego Bay Bike Trail goes right past the RV Resort and dumps you out near the Coronado Golf Course. I continued to follow it around and ended up going under the Coronado Bridge and found Coronado Ferry Landing.
Coronado Ferry Landing was the perfect place for my night shot of the San Diego waterfront! I was directly across the Bay from Seaport Village, the large hotels and convention center. Another important consideration was that this area looked very safe for a guy walking around alone with camera gear. I planned on using my Canon 60D on a tripod and there’s nothing stealthy about it. Unfortunately, it’s large and can attract attention.
I actually made 2 visits to the Coronado Ferry Landing. My 1st visit was just ok, meaning my images were not bad, but not exactly what I was working for. The fog started to roll in early and gave the image below a hazy, grainy look. See for yourself:
Above – Canon 60D, RAW, Auto ISO (3200), 0.8 seconds, 50mm Canon F2.5 lens.
My 1st visit was not a complete waste of time, as I did learn a couple of things. One of the things I learned was to do a better job of keeping an eye on the weather. Fog can add some interest and mystery to an image, but I didn’t want it for this shot. Another thing I learned was to pay attention to the settings on the camera! I forgot to check the ISO, and didn’t notice until I was done, that it was set to Auto. Sometimes that’s ok, but not this time. I wanted to control the ISO setting, not let the camera decide. I also didn’t do any bracketing of exposures with HDR in mind.
I waited a couple of days to try again. This time the weather would cooperate and the fog would not be a factor. I checked all of my cameras settings and configured it to shoot 3 bracketed exposures, +1 and -1 f-stop from the original exposure. Here’s the result:
Above – Canon 60D, F8, 0.8 seconds, ISO 400, Canon 18-55mm EFS IS Lens. This is an HDR image.
The shot above was taken with the sun just starting to set. There was a beautiful twilight glow and the lights were just starting to come on.
This next image was taken when it was much darker and is a single RAW file, no HDR.
Above – Canon 60D, F16, 15 seconds, ISO 400, Canon 18-55 EFS IS Lens. Singe RAW image.
I was very pleased with the image above. This was an experiment with a longer, slower shutter speed. I did this purposely to see if it would have a smoothing effect on the water. I think it did, and as an added bonus, brought a little more detail to the sky by making the clouds visible. They would have otherwise been lost in the darkness with a shorter exposure.
That’s it for now. I have more photos to go through and edit. Maybe it’s time to go into more detail on the HDR process I follow. I’ll give it some thought and see what I can do. In the meantime, go out there and experiment. You’ll never know what can happen unless you try. Who knows, maybe you’ll surprise yourself with a photo that really pops!
If you have some advice for evening/night shooting, don’t be bashful! Share your thoughts and images and I’ll post them here!
Until next time – Happy Shooting!