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Categorized | Articles, Ethan Meleg

Out of Focus – Night Photography — Oh No! (full story)

©Ethan Meleg Fisheye of the night sky in Killarney Provincial Park, ON. I'm out shooting night photos to keep up with the times! Gear: Canon 5D Mark III, Sigma 15mm fisheye lens Settings: ƒ2.8@30 sec., ISO 3200

©Ethan Meleg
Fisheye of the night sky in Killarney Provincial Park, ON. I’m out shooting night photos to keep up with the times!
Gear: Canon 5D Mark III, Sigma 15mm fisheye lens
Settings: ƒ2.8@30 sec., ISO 3200

Note: This column is presented as a humours piece and is intended as such. Please enjoy responsibly. — Editor-in-Cheif

Night photography is booming in popularity right now. Everywhere I look there are photos of brilliant starry skies, magical star trails and dancing northern lights. Many of them are spectacular, drop-dead gorgeous photos that evoke awe and wonderment. It totally sucks!!!

What’s the problem? Shouldn’t I be excited and inspired? NO WAY! As I approach the peak of my photography career, I was planning to take it easy — to sleep in most days and then shoot the occasional wildflower photo in my yard or bird at the feeder outside my kitchen window. Maybe bag a sunset from the hammock while sipping on cocktails, and then get a great sleep in my comfy bed to make up for all of the nights that I never slept while building my photography career. Laziness was going to be my new focus in photography!

My plan came to an abrupt end when recent advances in digital cameras and post-processing software enabled shooting long exposures in low light and producing images of remarkable quality. It was a dream come true for creating images of the night sky — and it fell right into the hands of countless young photographers who are full of energy and creative vision. They wear T-shirts that say, “Dude, where’s my bokeh?,” chug a couple of energy drinks and head out all night to shoot the starry heavens until sunrise. Somehow they are able to post-process their photos with technical mastery on their smart phones and share them with the world on Instagram before most people wake up for breakfast. Uggghhh!

At 40, I thought my days of staying out late at night, uncomfortably hunkered over my camera on a dark, rocky shoreline until the wee hours were behind me. In the photography business, however, you must adapt and evolve or you’re left behind to die. I want Cabernet Sauvignon in my future instead of dried cat food, so I’m embracing the new technology and out shooting night photos again. As I write this column, my brain and body are weary from a lack of sleep after spending the better part of last night out on the Georgian Bay shoreline in Killarney Provincial Park photographing the starry sky. The mosquitoes were horrendous and a damp chill set in after midnight, but watching the Milky Way move across the glassy bay was motivation enough to keep me going until about 2:30 a.m.  No energy drinks or bokeh T-shirts required!

As I settled into a cozy lodge after the shoot, I had a smirk on my face thinking about all of the young photographers who were, at that very minute, uncomfortably contorted trying to sleep in their cars or tents. The thought only lasted a moment, however, because I fell deep asleep in my comfortable bed and dreamed about the starry skies!

To read more of Ethan’s columns and other great how-to articles please pick up the Fall/Winter 2014 issue of OPC today, or subscribe!

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