Sunday, August 28, 2011

2011 WEEK 34 Pt. I: Vanier Park

Finally! A step in the right direction with the photos this week! It sure is good to be back and I have lots of pretty images to share with you all.

I had "a night out on the town" this past weekend with the camera and what a night it was. Clear skies. Barely a breath of wind and perfectly warm. I started the night at Vanier Park and this was the first picture out of the camera:

I over-exposed Burrard Street Bridge a little but I think it works as it draws one eye across the picture.

Shooting at night is a spectacular challenge. Firstly one needs solid support i.e. a decent tripod and a remote switch to minimize movement. Secondly, one needs to experiment and try multiple exposures and settings and thirdly, one needs patience... Lots of it! Most of these pictures were obtained using a 20 to 30 second exposure - Clicking the remote switch is like rolling the dice. There's this terrific moment of suspense as the shutter finally clicks closed again and one has no idea just what the camera might have captured until it pops up on the LCD screen. Take for example the photo below:

You see all those stars? I couldn't even see those with my naked eye due to the lights from The Bard on the Beach performance and yet there they were!

With the awesome sounds of Shakespeare's Richard III floating on the air I continued on around the park making my way to the GMS Observatory where there was also lots going on albeit in a much more hushed and reverent tone than "winter's of discontent"... Telescopes pointing skyward and volunteer experts on hand to answer questions, the facility is open to the public Friday's and Saturday's and is by donation so go check it out sometime.

On guard! The famous Planetarium crab... What this fellow has to do with space I've no idea but I suppose he'd make an awesome monster in a robot-crab Sci-Fi "B" movie!

Behind the observatory and HR MacMillan Space Center I found this beautiful little pond reflecting the city beyond.

And nearby I came across a few more examples of Vancouver's bizarre street sculptures... Backlit by the lights of the planetarium I wasn't sure I was going to be able to get much of an exposure and so on a whim I shone my little mag-light, waving it back and forth for the duration of the 30 second exposure.

Et voila!

I think the reflective paint on the signs really helped my cause. Using a light to highlight an element within the frame during long exposures is known as Light Painting and its an incredibly cool technique that has been on my list of things to try for a long time. As a first exercise I'm really happy with how well it turned out.

These next few images also used light painting. What the hell is this thing?! Maybe a cousin of The Terminator's T-1000?

Whatever it is, it made for a fantastic subject that's for sure.

Here is the entire sculpture in all its nighttime glory.

I post-processed the picture above to make it more like moonlight and accentuate the silver of the art piece. This next one I went in the opposite direction favouring the orange sodium lights of the West End in the distance. I would have liked a little more contrast between the sculpture and the sky but I love that I managed to get The Big Dipper in there!

Given how much illumination the city kicks off it was amazing to me that I was still able to capture some stars in the sky. One of these days I'm hoping to get out into the middle of nowhere on a clear night and see what else I can see twinkling in the heavens.

Do come back and visit again in the next few days as I have lots more Vancouver at night images to share. Oh, and do let me know what you think of the pictures, if you have advice or if any suggestions of what else I might photograph.

Thanks for reading and see you soon.