Night Time Phototography Long Exposures Done Right!

chicago 1 aI have often gone out at night and thought about all the lights and how amazing they look. nothing though looks more amazing than a long exposure photograph. Cameras can capture all the ambient light the human eye cannot see.

It Is easy to think well I’m going to go out and go to the city with my camera and take photos. Long exposure photography is something that is somewhat skill and somewhat just plain dumb luck and timing. You can take one long exposure photograph thinking this will be amazing once I am done, but I have looked afterwards and thought there is really not the lights I wanted and it does not look as good as I first thought it would.

Usually I wind up trying to find some amazing Locations first. Take the photo above for instance, this was taken on a Chicago night facing the Chicago River in the foreground. The buildings make for all the light you need. The boats that passed by made for the streaks of light on the river. Lights will normally look like small starbursts especially Street lights. Here I set My Shutter speed to bulb so I could get about a 45 second exposure my Iso was set to about 200 and my F stop to about 14.

After I took the photograph I did not know how amazing this would look thinking this better turn out well, only because I forgot one essential. I forgot My Tripod that day!. I found the flattest surface I could possibly find where the camera would be steady, and set the camera there with my shutter remote attached because pressing the shutter button manually usually causes blur because the camera tends to shake. The photo above was one of the prettiest long exposures I have taken.

5e662d12-07df-42f8-9921-2f0dadbe6ea2_FULLSCREENThe photo you see here with the light throw from a Projector at the Harvest Moon Drive-In Theater in Gibson City, Illinois was taken on a rainy night. Again I forgot one important necessity at home and that was my tripod again. There was a picnic table in the front of the lot and I used that to Steady the camera. normally you cannot see the light from the projector like this on a clear night with no rain, but I got lucky on this night the rain produced this amazing light throw. I set the Camera to about a 30 second exposure here and let the camera capture this scene. So here you see the light flooding through the rainy night as families sit in their cars and watch movies. I would never suggest forgetting your tripod!!

water 2 aHere was one of my favorites here I remembered my tripod this was taken In St. Charles, Illinois. I was born i this town so this photo means a bit more to me than just some random night shot I took. Here there was a small dock off the river walk it was fairly steady, and several times i had to tell people to stay off the dock to because walking tended to cause shake, and I had to deal with the swarm of mosquitoes trying to attack me on a warm summer night and ignore the how uncomfortable I felt from them constantly biting me. This was one of the hardest shots to accomplish because of all the elements working against me, but I finally got the shot I wanted after almost 10 minutes sitting in discomfort.

This shot was on a Tripod and I set the shutter to bulb again, my F stop to about 14 or so and an iso of about 200. I took this photo just after the sun had set and the skies turn that pretty blue. i let this exposure go for about 45 seconds or so!. So not only do you capture the light but also the amazing reflection on the Fox River.

So this is just a little about long exposure photography hope you enjoyed if not for the story atleast for the amazing photos!!. Please feel free to follow me I know I Have not written in a while, but it is Valentines Day and It is Snowing well I have nothing to do so writing seemed like the best option. Like I said hope you all enjoyed. I will try to write a bit more often. Feel free to follow my blog. There are more stories you can read some just for fun and some educational.

Thank You,

Brian

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Drive-In Memories

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       Photo Above: McHenry Outdoor Theater, McHenry, Illinois

As the Sun starts to set, so does the time I knew. Growing up on Friday, or Saturday nights the parents used to get us in our pajamas, pack a couple of bags of Okee-Doke Popcorn, usually cheese and regular, and put us in the car and take us to the Cascade Drive-in, in West Chicago, Illinois. We used to go when I was real young in the 69 Camaro that was my Mom’s, or the 69 Barracuda which was my Dad’s. The Camaro was Blue with a white rag top, what a beautiful car. 

        When the upkeep got to expensive for those cars, my Mom and Dad bought an 83 Citation, It was Maroon with a Hatchback. Again they would pack us in that car, and at the Drive-in they would put the seats down, and we could lay in back. We would usually try to make it through the first movie, and sometimes on a rare occasion we would make it through the second one to.

      I remember seeing some great movies there, but before every movie they would either run a cartoon, like popeye, heckle and Jeckyl, or a Bugs bunny Cartoon. Sometimes if we were lucky they would run a Three Stooges short  until the sun set far enough down for the movie to start. This is not a practice alot of Drive-In theaters do anymore that I would love to see brought back.

       We saw such movies as Karate Kid 2, The Last Star Fighter, Space Camp, Starman, and the Three Amigos. Those days the theaters had playgrounds, of course they were monkey bars, swings and maybe 1 or 2 other items. Playrounds became a thing of the past when people became sue happy, and the playgrounds were all metal equipment. The Insurance companies basically told the theaters no more. Another sad notation in our American culture.

      Years later my family moved to the McHenry County area. It was fairly rural but the one thing we did have and still do, if we can keep it alive is the McHenry outdoor theater. I worked there 11 summers, and I enjoyed every minute of it. The crews I worked with became my summer family, and I even met my ex-wife there. Even though we wound up getting divorced we had 3 beautiful children together. My kids when they were younger would get in the car and we would take them because daddy was working, and they could watch a movie. They basically spent every summer night when they were younger at the Drive-in.

      Now the McHenry Outdoor Theater is facing its biggest challenge. It is becoming to expensive to run 35 mm film anymore, and alot of companies will not produce first run films in 35 mm format. Most theaters have now switched over to digital, and McHenry is trying to do the same. If they do not raise the money to put in Digital Projection they could be facing a grim, and heartbreaking future.

        Most Drive-ins I remember are now a thing of the past. I do not like this because people have become to lazy, and would rather spend time on their couch with cable or red box and watch movies in the comfort of their own home. I would rather be at the outdoor sitting in my car enjoying a double feature, or even a single feature because some theaters do not have double features. I want to eat popcorn, drink Coca-Cola, and eat hotdogs, pizza, and burgers.

     So far this year I have relived some of those old memories I went to the McHenry Outdoor a few weeks ago, and just last week I went to the Harvest Moon Drive-in, in Gibson City, Illinois. Harvest Moon Is a Twin Drive-in in the middle of Gods country. It is the worlds first wind powered theater, with digital projection on each screen. It has a wonderful little concession stand to.

     If you want to see the McHenry Outdoor stay open please patronize it, become a good customer. Lets not forget the Drive-In It is a good family night, and we do not want to forget the way America was. Thank you for reading this I really hope you enjoyed this!!!

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Photo above: Harvest Moon Drive-in, Gibson City, Illinois