Sunday, May 11, 2008

The Difference between Night and Day

Over the last couple years,
I have occasionally been asked why I don't shoot more colorful subjects, like wildflowers, green meadows, and colorful mountain scenes. I've never really known what to say, as, truth be told, I just never
felt I was that good at it.

When I really became fixated with photography, my first instinct was to take pictures of the moon, the stars, the twilight glow; the Mysterious and the Fantastic. Night and low-light photography naturally became my muse. To me, night photography is the equivalent of a painter starting out with a blank canvas, and slowly applying layers upon layers of color with his/her brush. Similarly with night photography, you start with a pitch black frame, and slowly allow light in the camera over long periods, or force light in by painting objects with a spotlight. It seems much more controlled by virtue than shooting in daylight hours and being at the mercy of current sunlight and atmospheric conditions. Night photography does come with it's own set of unique challenges though, including camera noise, difficulty in getting the lens focused on my subject in the dark, and uneven light painting. Other external challenges with night photography include encounters with wildlife, encounters with (not-so) domestic farm dogs, wind, and a myriad of other predicaments that you might imagine wandering around in the wilderness at night may present.

During my photography journeys, I find myself sleeping for four hours around mid-night, waking up and shooting pre-sunrise and sunrise, and then sleeping another four hours at mid-day, to go out and shoot again at sunset and after the fall of night. More than once I've absent-mindedly greeted people with "Good Morning!" at 6:00 in the evening.

The photo of the old tree above, "Protection", is a 30-second exposure taken at about 4:00 am in the Utah desert a couple weeks ago, before the first glow of sunrise.

On to more important topics…

Today is Mother's Day
We owe a debt of gratitude to our Mothers for bringing us into the world, nurturing us, teaching us, consoling us, healing us, and loving us. I recently read on a blog a statement that rings so true:

"God could not be everywhere, and
therefore he made mothers."

In honor of Mother's Day, (and also in response to those who wondered if I'm truly nocturnal and envision me frantically clamoring through shadows to return to my coffin at the first hint of dawn), I give you this gallery:

"Unique Flora"
; in celebration of the vibrant color and
the miracle of life that Mother Nature provides.

Enjoy, and to all the Mothers of the world,
wishing you a most heartfelt

Happy Mother's Day!


Azure Islands Designs said...

Interesting post Scott..."Protection" is magnificent! I enjoyed your beautiful flowers pix...but my favorites are the night/low-light pix,the desert, etc., such unique work...

Kelvin Oliver said...

Greetings Scott,

I enjoyed reading this well written post on how you feel about certain aspects of taking phots. Keep up the good work. Also, you have a wonderful blog.

Scott said...

Thank you both!
Heather, the night photos will always be more powerful to me and I'm glad you appreciate them! It is exciting when I can capture that sense of mystery and fantasy. It is a life-long quest, I suppose.

Kelvin, thanks for the compliments!

sky said...

Namaste' Scott, wow this is one wicked sweet post. LOVE this photo, my entire family is composed of artists, I started drawing in charcoal as a youngster, trees being a passion as they told stories to me of sights and sounds I have not seen.

Though I love color and work with it, I was and still am drawn to black and white, and night time images BIG TIME, you speak what I also feel.

For some reason I come alive at night time, early morning hours, it's a very exciting time for me, and it is easy for me to not go to bed till 5 am. (bad sky) I knew I was never meant for a typical 9-5 job very early on, the moon and stars do beckon me. I just don't know enough yet about nightime photography (I am working on it though and Scott, you are an inspiration with that!!) night time photography I must say is my all time favs of viewing, you are making my experiences of the night come alive, through the photos.

I think you should do some grave yard shots next ;0) there is something very peaceful about graveyards I always feel at peace in them when I visit them, and read each stone.

The name for the photo could not be a better label Scott. And oh BTW what is so bad about coffins? *grin* I think my first crush was on a vampire from a movie as a kid hahahaha. I relate to everything in your post. Awesome.


Scott said...

Sky, thanks so much for the thoughtful comments, my friend. I have really been getting more and more into B&W. Once I started "seeing" in BW it is hard to go back.

Trees really have been my main interest. I am fascinated how they gain character and distinction as they age and weather the elements, much in the same way that people do; a wrinkle here, a knotted limb there...

As far as graveyards, there was a point a couple of years ago that I pursued it a little, but I quickly lost interest. Maybe a little too creepy for me. Also, I think I like the scenes that are more open for different emotional and creative interpretations.

I have also stuck with the natural world mainly, but I have some things in the works that may deviate from that trend a bit.

I'll be posting some night photography "how-to's" in the near future as well!

Okay Skylar, let me guess:
"Lost Boys"?


RainforestRobin said...

WOW SCOTT!!! What a beautiful post. I was touched and FASCINATED by your nocturnal hours. I do not yet understand night photography but I REALLY REALLY related to what you are doing because I love using the light to photograph. I know very little about cameras and am learning but I do have a strong sense of light. I wake most mornings before sunrise and love to photograph at sunset and sunrise. It is magical. I would love to out at night in a remote area lone and photograph the stars and northern lights and lightning. I still have more to learn but am eager. I am terrible as I don't want to go to bed and could be up all night looking at stars but then I also like get up before the sun and watch the sun rise. SO maybe your idea of sleeping 4 on 4 off is a good one. You are such an adventurous and free spirit....very unique. Your photos reflect that. I also loved the colored ones you did for mother's day. They are stunning as well. You are very gifted. Thank you so much for sharing. Simply WONDERFUL!

Scott said...

Robin, thank you! There were times in the past when I would stay out all night, but it definitely takes a lot out of me, and really throws me off for about a week afterwards, so the 4 hours at night and four hours during the day seem to work best, and the transition back to somewhat normal hours for my day job is easier. I have always wanted to see the northern lights! I'm just a bit too far south to get any of it here in CO, but everytime I see photos or video, it excites me. It's like nature's ultimate light show.

Thanks for your comments, Robin!

Steve sculpts critters said...

That's a great looking tree.
There's lots of dead Pinon trees around here and when I'm out walking in the arroyo in the pre dawn light it can seem pretty spooky, especially since you never know what might be lurking in the sage brush.
I've run into a group or two of coyotes, but thankfully no mountain lions or bears.

Scott said...

Thanks Steve! The wildlife, to me, is the most un-nerving part of it. I was entirely too close to a wild boar being attacked by some animal much bigger than it in the Utah desert, back about 1/2 mile in a narrow canyon. I would guess it was a mountain lion, but am not sure. The attack happened roughly 40 yards away from us. Needless to say we were full-speed out of there! I see lots of coyotes and foxes, too, but rather enjoy them.

Thanks for your comment!

Beth Ellen said...

That is a stunning photo. Very inspiring. :)

Rebuke said...

The Worthy of Note artist for Sunday May 25, 2008. I love your work, glad I stumbled on your blog. Keep up the amazing work.

Scott said...

Thank you Beth Ellen and Rebuke.

Rebuke, thank you so much for the feature! I am honored. More posts coming very soon.

Witam said...

Love your shot of the night. hope to see more :-)