And so here we are, exactly one 13th through the year. My, how time flies. Sort of.
Anyway, if you’re here but don’t quite know why or what any of this is about, check out this post for a bit of a run-down on the whole experiment.
This week’s /r/picturechallenge assignment was “climate/weather”. Seems straightforward enough, right? Well, my first thought was obviously “snow! ICE!” but then I remembered that I did that back in week 2. Then I thought of all the time I have to spend in the wood/furnace room during the winter, but I’d used that particular exotic locale back in week 1, and it’s just not a place the warrants two appearances in a single month, if an entire year. So outside it was for me (and yes, I’ll grant that doing otherwise for a topic like climate/weather would have been a bit cheat-y anyway), to end up with this shot:
Dramatic? No. Striking in its vibrance? Not particularly. A reasonable reflection of January in the Ottawa Valley? I think it just might be.
I played around with a few different particular concepts for how to use the fire pit for the shot (you’ll see an outtake at the bottom of this post), but eventually settled on taking advantage of the necessary long exposure to get a self-portrait of sorts. It took an inordinate amount of time for the fire to actually be cooperative, but eventually it did. A roaring conflagration it absolutely was not, but it served its purpose, and I kind of like the nod to the reality of winter camping that is dealing with small, meagre fires at times. The sparks were a nice touch. Thanks, tiny pine branches!
As far as the relatively few technical details, the camera is (obviously) mounted on a tripod, and I got the autofocus to grab on to the fire pit before switching to manual focus mode and framing the image the way I wanted it, particularly to get as many of the spooky tree silhouettes as I could. With a 30-second shot, I had plenty of time to hit the shutter and trot over to where I wanted to be and then stand as still as possible (despite the jerk fire’s innate tendency to throw lungfulls of smoke at me constantly) until hearing the “all-clear” click.
After a few tries, I got one with the sparks making trails that I liked, so that’s the one I stuck with.
A side note about night-time photography. This was taken in my back yard, about a 20-minute drive from the nearest ‘city’ (pop. 15,000 or thereabouts). It was also quite dark – having been taken several hours after sunset. This gives you an idea of the sheer level of light pollution anywhere near inhabited areas. All that orange glow behind the trees, letting them stand out as silhouettes? All from the city, some 20 km away. It’s not super far, or anything, and it was an overcast night, which makes a difference as well, but it’s always striking to me just how much light even a small municipality can throw into the sky. This also should give you an impression of just how remote, dark and clear it needs to be to get really awesome Milky Way shots or star trail photos.
Gear: Nikon d800e + 35mm f/1.8 lens + tripod
The shot: f/5.0 | 30 sec. | ISO 500