So, sometimes you just have to admit failure. Despite your best efforts, and trying every trick you know, the photographs just don’t work. Photography is hard. Night photography is tricky. Long exposures are even harder. The only photographs that I actually like are the two with the couple outside York Minster: these were taken on a tripod with a shutter speed of 1 second. I like how still the couple are and the blur of the others walking through the frame; I also like the negative space and the difference in perspective.
Other than that, the long exposures of the river are technically fine: tripod, f/16 to give the beautiful rays of light, and a shutter speed anywhere between 30s to 2 mins to get the reflections and light trails. But I couldn’t get the framing right, I’m not happy with the composition. I only had the 23mm (35mm equivalent) and the 56mm (85mm equivalent) lenses and I found the 35mm point of view too restricting. Perhaps, looking back, I should have put the 85mm on the tripod and shot multiple images with the purpose of stitching them together in Lightroom. This may have made isolating a subject more achievable. As they are, I feel lost in the photographs; my eye is not led to a distinct subject and, therefore, the images are unbalanced and not as ascetically pleasing.
So why have I included them on a blog for everyone to see? Well, I believe we can learn from our mistakes. I can learn from these images and if I can, then someone else can as well.
I’d travelled to York with two friends on Friday, we spent at least three hours taking photos of the city – I was initially hopeful that with a clear night and minimum wind, the conditions would help produce a good image. It soon became apparent that this would not be the case. For whatever reason I didn’t feel like I was getting the images that I wanted – this was almost immediately!!
But here’s the tip: I didn’t just pack up and drive back to Wakefield. I carried on walking, carried on taking photographs, and ultimately had a brilliant night in York. Did I get the killer photograph? No. But I worked the scene, I tried multiple angles, and I did everything that I knew how to. And that’s important. Amazing photographs virtually never jump out at you; normally your eye sees something, but then it’s a case of finding what drew you to the scene. In essence, you have to find your subject.
So, this trip did not produce a portfolio publishable photograph, but it was still a lot of fun.
I want to show you what I mean by working the scene. Here’s pretty much the 1st and last photograph that I took on Friday night. Both of the same bridge.
The first one I took hopeful and full of excitement of what I might capture during the evening. The second one is on the way back to the car at the end of the evening; it’s late, it’s cold. My two friends have walked ahead to the car, and I stayed alone on the banks of the river close to midnight determined to at least try and work the scene one last time. My eye was telling me there was a photograph in the scene, but I still hadn’t been able to nail one.
But, with what was the last photograph I took I tried a different angle. You can see the difference in the two photographs. I’m not happy with either, however, it was pure determination to keep trying that kept me going. Truthfully, if my friends hadn’t been with me, I might still be there now. With the weather that night it may have ended somewhat reminiscent of the ending of The Shinning.
No matter what, keep working the scene!