Sunday, August 2, 2015

Wait For It

Saturday night I was at South Holston Dam with the Eastman Camera Club.   We were out there to practice our light painting skills.  For most of us, those skills were pretty close to zero and we had a lot to learn.  It was a great time to spend with other photographers, learn from each other, and enjoy a beautiful evening.

After watching the sunset from the top of the dam, we headed downstream to the weir dam to see what we could come up with.

Big Sunset From Top of The Dam
Timing is everything.   About the time the sun was setting, TVA stopped letting water through the big dam and the cool water that was flowing over this weir dam stopped.   It would have made a more interesting photo if it was still flowing, but we were there to experiment and learn.  I didn't expect to get a great photo this first time out.

The water below the big dam is very cold and around sunset a dense fog forms on the surface of this cold water.   Shining a flashlight straight into this fog had the same effect as your car high beams.  The light reflected right back and became a solid white blob.   To overcome this, June stood off to the left and shined the flashlights back on the weir dam at an angle, eliminating much of the glare.  Yes, she had two flashlights and at one time she was waving them around like Mickey Mouse directing the stars in The Sorcerer's Apprentice.  All that waving payed off with the dam being evenly lit by the flashlights.

Light Painting the Weir Dam
This was a 30 second exposure, which allowed the stars to be seen in the sky.

By 10:20 the full moon was up, washing out the stars and most everyone had packed up and left thinking the show was over.   We started walking toward the car and I decided to try one more shot looking up river right into the moon.   I wanted to get the curving walkway defined by the posts along the river bank.  During the 30 second exposure, someone drove through the parking lot doing some impromptu headlight painting right into my shot.   Their headlights give the posts a nice halo effect, defined the curve of the walkway and balanced out the strong light from the moon.   I really like the effect.

Accidental Light Painting

Sometimes we think the show's over, there's nothing else left to shoot and we leave.  I've seen people leave when they think a sunset is done, only to miss the most spectacular scene after the sun has gone down below the horizon.  Leaving early may get you home sooner, but you may miss some of the best photography of the day.  Sometimes you just have to "wait for it".

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