Monday, March 24, 2008

Nighttime Tampa

After dinner and a satisfactory time at my parents' house watching my (and my father's and my brother Jim's) alma mater win an NCAA tournament game by 31 points, I took a detour on the way home and drove around downtown Tampa looking for photography subjects.

Other than my rained out attempt to shoot a lunar eclipse (a few posts below), I had not shot at night before. I knew enough to know that I'd need a tripod because the shutter would stay open a long time and any hand-held attempts would look surreal at best and garden variety blurry at worst.

John McQuiston Photograph
This shot is from a small marina on Davis Islands, a ritzy part of South Tampa, looking toward downtown. You wouldn't know looking at the picture that this scene was almost totally dark as I looked with my naked eye. The boats were mere shadows lit not even enough to form real silhouettes. I didn't know what effect the overcast sky would have. When the sky showed up that bright in my LCD screen, I thought I had taken the coolest photograph ever. I got over myself a few minutes later.

And again when I got home and looked at the night's efforts. I never did find the spot from which all the shots of Tampa's nighttime skyline I've seen in brochures were taken. I sure tried, though. I drove and walked around Tampa for more than three hours, snapping off shots at points along the way. Most of them stunk. That's why you're not getting a slide show.

I finally quit when my battery died around 12:30 a.m. at the University of Tampa. But not before I stumbled across a vantage point I won't wait so late to shoot next time.

John McQuiston Photograph
The challenge for the vertical shots is that only the bottom of the camera attaches to the tripod head. The only way to turn the camera vertically and take a shot was to let it sit on the tripod on its side and hope it keeps its balance. I couldn't hold the camera because that would shake it while the shutter was open. I kept the camera strap around my neck in case the camera fell off. I'm happy to report that it didn't, though the technique would not have worked on even a moderately breezy night.

1 comment:

turdpolisher said...

sweet shots. love the sky