Showing posts with label Low Light. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Low Light. Show all posts

Friday, August 12, 2022

Remembering Galen Rowell

Discovering The Possibilities

I had a casual interest in photography as a young adult. When I was growing up, my family had a black and white television. I got my most vivid view of the world through photographs published in magazines.

Cameras fascinated me. I was always a fan of gadgets, and cameras seemed like marvels of precision and craftsmanship. They also had the almost magical power to capture moments for later review. I dreamt of buying a nice camera one day and using it to take pictures of seashores, sunsets, and lighthouses. I subscribed to photography magazines and read them eagerly each month.

But the dream had to wait. I didn't have the expertise or the financial resources to pursue photography seriously. The camera ads in the magazines were more confusing than helpful. The myriad of choices seemed overwhelming.

I took snapshots with point and shoot camera. I recorded family events and short trips, and dropped the film off at the drugstore to be processed. The prints were reminders of places and events, but with rare exceptions, there weren't artistically impressive.

a photo of pfeiffer beach big sur california at sunset
Pfeiffer Beach Sunset - Big Sur, California

One day, while visiting a museum, I happened upon an exhibition of photographs from the Tongas, a rain forest in Alaska's panhandle. It was a surprisingly moving experience. The photos were beautifully colored and highly detailed. It was hard to imagine that such images actually came out of a camera.

The photographer was the late Galen Rowell. Rowell was a seasoned climber and wilderness enthusiast. He traveled the world capturing images of remote and surprising places for National Geographic and similar magazines.

These were impressive locales, but the magic of Rowell's photos was in their vivid colors, stunning detail, and surprising juxtapositions, like dramatic skies and rugged foregrounds. Rowell liked photographing in what he called "last light," a post-sunset glow of dim but saturated colors.

I found these qualities fascinating. I was immediately obsessed with this style of photography. I wanted to figure out how he had captured these breathtaking images and hoped that one day I would be able to make photographs of my own using a similar approach.

I drove to my local Borders, bought a few books about photography, and started studying. I bought a reasonably priced Nikon with a serviceable zoom lens, along with twenty rolls of the film that Galen preferred, and I got to work. Every week, I was shooting, experimenting, making mistakes, trying again, and learning all the time.

Sadly, I never had the chance to meet Mr. Rowell. He died in a plane crash on August 11, 2002. That was twenty years ago as of the writing of this post. Coincidentally, I am now the age that Rowell was when he passed away.

Inspiration is one of the most wonderful things that can happen to a human being. A magical moment can change the trajectory of our lives, taking us in directions that we never thought possible, leading us to places and experiences that we could never have imagined.

The Tongas exhibition set my photographic journey into motion. Seeing Galen Rowell's dramatic images printed in all of their finely-detailed glory was more than an inspiration. It was an awakening. It introduced me to possibilities in image making that I would never have imagined possible and to a fascination with the art of photography.

Fujifilm GFX 100S
Lens:         GF 30mm f/3.5

Wishing you great light and meaningful moments!

Copyright © 2022 Daniel R. South
All Rights Reserved

Thursday, December 30, 2021

Nights In The Park

Finding Beauty In Darkness

My low-light photography journey began long ago. One of the first books I bought when I was learning to use a camera specialized in the challenges of capturing images in dimly lit conditions.

a photo of bethesda terrace central park at night in new york city
Bethesda Terrace and Reflections - Central Park, New York City

That was back in the film days, and the process was quite different. We didn't have the ability to confirm a proper exposure at the time of capture. HDR, Image Stabilization, and Night Mode didn't exist. High ISO film looked horrible, and the film that we used to capture most images required specially calculated adjustments to exposure time when the exposures lasted longer than a few seconds. Focusing effectively in the dark was extraordinarily challenging.

a photo of castle belvedere at night with a moon in new york city
Castle Belvedere With Moon - Central Park, New York

I didn't do terribly well at first, and for some years, I all but gave up the idea of taking photos at night. The only photos I took at night were star trails which, surprisingly, were easier to capture on film than with digital sensors.

a photo of bethesda terrace at night with the moon in central park new york
Bethesda Terrace With Moon - Central Park, New York

Once I made a firm switch to digital imaging, I gave night photography another try. One year, I went around the city photographing exterior Christmas decorations in the Winter darkness. It was a great exercise. I learned a lot in a few months, and I haven't looked back. I'm always looking for opportunities to capture the beauty of the night.

Fujifilm GFX 100S
Lenses:     GF 110mm f/2
                GF 30mm f/3.5
                GF 23mm f/4

Wishing you great light and meaningful moments!

Copyright © 2021 Daniel R. South
All Rights Reserved

Wednesday, December 15, 2021

Columbus Circle At Night - New York City

At The Roundabout

a nighttime photo of rose hall jazz at lincoln center complex on columbus circle new york city
Rose Hall - Jazz At Lincoln Center - New York (2021)

a photo of the christopher columbus statue at columbus circle new york city
Statue Of Christopher Columbus At The Center Of The Circle

a night photo of the tall towers are columbus circle new york city
Tall Towers - Columbus Circle (2021)

a night photo of a new york city taxi cab racing toward columbus circle
Speeding Toward Columbus Circle - New York City (2021)

a photo of the subway entrance at columbus circle new york city at night
Columbus Circle Subway Entrance At Night

Fujifilm GFX 100S
Lenses:     GF 30mm f/3.5
                GF 23mm f/4

Wishing you great light and meaningful moments!

Copyright © 2021 Daniel R. South
All Rights Reserved

Saturday, November 14, 2020

Throwback Taxi - New York City (2020)

Dream Car

A classic ride for a groom and a bride!

a photo of an old fashioned taxi in new york

Sony a7R IV
Lens:        Sony FE 135mm f/1.8 GM @ f/1.8

Wishing you great light and meaningful moments!

Copyright © 2020 Daniel R. South
All Rights Reserved

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Low Light Photography

Cool Nights Warm Colors

When I began to take a serious interest in photography, I ran down to my local bookstore looking for guidance. There I found one of my favorite how-to books: "The Complete Guide to Night and Low-Light Photography" by Lee Frost.

I spent many hours reviewing the beautiful photos and studying the text that accompanied them. Chapter by chapter, I learned about cameras and lenses, films and filters, and the all-important color and quality of light.

I began to understand, for instance, why the camera's internal metering system would fail to properly expose most low light conditions. Mr. Frost presented a variety of techniques to help compensate for this limitation. (Remember that this was during the film era when photos weren't instantly displayed on the back of the camera.)

To this day, I love shooting in low light conditions when the world slows down and the colors take on a vivid and dramatic character.

a low light photo of venice at dusk
Venice At Dusk

Special thanks to Mr. Lee Frost for writing so eloquently and informatively about low light photography. You inspired me to see possibilities where once I saw only darkness.

Camera: Nikon D800
Lens: Nikon AF-S Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8G ED

Wishing you great light and meaningful moments!

Copyright 2013 Daniel R. South
All Rights Reserved