Sometimes at night the clouds lay low over the city and reflect back the light from the street lights below, luminous against the twilight blue sky. Usually, the phenomena of having low-lying clouds with a clear sky above is accompanied by wind.
If there is no wind, the clouds don’t break up. They lie like a blanket, impenetrable, creating only a haze of light that just isn’t as interesting as on windy nights. On this particular night, not only was the wind blowing hard with the clouds breaking up nicely, but the moon was bobbing and weaving amongst the blowing clouds.
Who could resist trying to get a photo of that? Of course, Tisen also needed to go out, so being the multi-tasker that I am, I hung my DSLR around my neck and put Tisen’s collar around his.
While I always take my iPhone with me when I wander around Renaissance park, I had no intention of using it tonight. The iPhone is a light hog, like all digital cameras with tiny sensors. Getting a night time image with an iPhone isn’t something I’ve figured out how to do and this wasn’t going to be the night I tried again.
I’m glad I didn’t bother trying with the iPhone. With my DSLR set on ISO 10,000, I was still shooting at shutter speeds over 3 seconds long. This is because I was being greedy. I wanted lots of depth of field, which meant sacrificing light to get it.
This may not have been the best decision. Armed with my camera and with my tripod tucked neatly in the closet back at home, I was buffeted about in the wind like a human sail. I tried leaning against a light pole and discovered the light pole was also blowing in the wind. We swayed together as I contemplated the hopelessness of getting a good shot in these conditions.
I remembered some of the lessons I learned about wind from hang gliding. First and foremost, it cycles. If you stand still and pay attention, you’ll feel it start to ease up until it will suddenly drop and be still. Sometimes this lasts only a split second. Sometimes it lasts several seconds. I needed 3 second windows of calm to get any sharp photos.
To make matters more difficult, the wind tossing the clouds was blowing at a much steadier pace, keeping the clouds blowing across my frame during the exposure. Even the plants in the foreground weren’t settling down when the breeze would briefly die. Everything was in motion. There were to be no sharp shots that night.
Tisen was happy to return to the indoors–the wind was cold and Tisen’s leg is sore. He has created yet another hot spot because of his allergies. We are treating it topically for the time being in the hope of avoiding more steroids. The pink self-sticking tape was hard to resist–he looks so cute in pink.