Yesterday I finally found some time to get out and take a little walk with my camera. I only had half a day and I wasn’t sure where to go, but the night before we were visiting some friends, Matt and Joe, and Joe happens to be the director of the Sodus Bay Lighthouse. I took that as a sign so I headed over there.
Unfortunately the light that morning was really really flat. If there’s one thing I hate when I’m taking photographs outdoors, it’s flat lighting. The sky was overcast and with snow on the ground everything was incredibly evenly lit. Shadows were non-existent. I’ll take brutal bright afternoon sunlight over a cloudy winter day anytime.
My usual plan for flat days is to 1. move in close and find subtle variations of light in the details of things 2. hunt around for dark colored objects and deep dark holes that cut off the light 3. pray for a break in the clouds.
For some close work I found the details in this viewing gizmo. You know, it’s one of those dealies where you put in 50 cents and for a few minutes you can look through the eyepiece to get a telescopic view of the area. This one is out in the yard of the museum overlooking Lake Ontario and the pier jutting out from Sodus Bay.
I love the dimply hammered look of the clean silver metal. The flat light helped here. On a sunny day that shiny metal would be a bear to shoot without burning a hole in the camera sensor. As usual I didn’t take photos of the whole thing. I like to get close enough to isolate various parts and study the mix of curves and angles. Everybody knows what the whole looks like, but not everyone takes the time to look at the parts so I figured that the parts would be the most interesting.
Of course I couldn’t resist wandering over to the pier and photographing the water. There was a pretty stiff breeze that day pushing the waves roughly along the pier with plenty of noise and splashing about. Most of these shots didn’t work out due to the light, but fortunately the sun did break out for a few minutes here and there and the dark side of the pier provided some shadow to play off the breaking waves.
And then there is this really weird photo that looks like it was taken at night with some sort of artificial lighting on the pier. The sky over the lake was very dark which made the water dark as well. The modern light beacon at the end of the pier is bright white and the pier is covered in bright white snow and ice (I wish it had been smooth fresh snow). Directly behind me the sun managed to come completely out of the clouds for just a couple of minutes.
The hard light on all that white made the background of dark clouds and water go nearly black by comparison. The camera sensor, not being infinitely adjustable like our eyes, just couldn’t handle the exposure difference between the light and the dark. So I exposed for the white and got this interesting effect.
Camera manufacturers and people that are into HDR photography are always trying to “open up the shadows” as if shadows are a bad thing and they think that scenes should always be evenly exposed across the board. Well, I’m not having any of that. I prefer dark mysterious places for peering into and some total blackness for the eye to rest upon and dream about. That’s just me.