Fifteen Hundred Lumens, Some Colored Gels, and a Light Jacket

Carousel, originally uploaded by carolsLittleWorld.

So, I’ve signed up for some of the PhotoTexas photography workshops, which will be held this weekend, and I’m getting very excited about attending. One of the workshops I’ve signed up for is on night photography and it’s being led by Lance Keimig, who also happens to be one of the founding members of The Nocturnes (a favorite website that you really should go and check out if you are, in any way, interested in night or long exposure photography.)

An interesting thing about night photography, it’s almost its own cult, almost like those Lomo people I love to giggle at-those “night” people (night owls if you’d like to be polite) are a different breed. Night photography is kind of a specialty, with the practitioners having their own gear, lingo, and the like. It’s interesting to me not just because I’m a chronic insomniac, but also because everything at night has a sort of cinematic feel to it-night photography really gives you results that are both technically complex (so the “real” photographers, gadget heads, and such, like it) and artistic (so it keeps you rooted in the “fine art” camp, if that’s where you want to be.)

The good folks from Texas Photographic Society were kind enough to send out a list of supplies for the workshops. Most of the workshops, including some of the others that I’m taking, all have pretty common supplies-things like “a notebook and a pen.” OK, fine, I can do that.

The fun starts when we get to the list of supplies for the night photographers. Here are some of the items that I need to bring with me to the workshop:

  • 35mm DSLR with manual controls and a bulb or time setting – no point and shoot or automatic only cameras, no pinhole cameras. Digital SLR cameras are optimal, but digital point and shoot cameras will yield poor results. You will need to shoot RAW files for best results.
  • fixed focal length wide to normal lenses are most appropriate, manual focus lenses are ideal. Zooms are ok, but tend to flare more than fixed lenses, and are more difficult to focus in low light levels.
  • STURDY tripod.
  • locking mechanical or electronic cable or remote release specific to your camera
  • penlight or other small flashlight
  • powerful, focusing flashlight – such as a big Mag Lite, or Surefire.
  • digital watch or other timer
  • extra battery for your camera
  • lens hood to prevent flare – can be a big problem at night
  • plastic bag and rubber band to cover camera in the unlikely event of rain
  • lens tissue or chamois in case of condensation
  • paper and pencil for exposure notes, especially film shooters

Useful, but not required:

  • Access to a computer with Lightroom, Photoshop CS3 or CS4 if shooting digital
  • portable, battery powered flash and extra batteries (Vivitars are great)
  • any other portable light sources that could be used for light painting.
  • small colored gels or filters

That’s a whole lot more than “notebook and a pen” don’t you think?

Now, I can hardly wait for the workshops this weekend. The Texas Photographic Society workshops are always a high point for me. In the past, I’ve studied marketing, how to self-publish books, and a variety of other topics, and I’ve gotten to study with some great photographers (Angilee Wilkerson jumps to mind-she’s really one of my favorite photographers.) But, still, “a plastic bag and some rubber bands?” Oh the humanity!

Wish me luck and, I guess, look for some “output” sometime next week (if, you know, I should happen to survive the night shooting, that is.)

Until next time…


  1. mythopolis
    September 11, 2009 / 4:56 pm

    It sounds very interesting. I remember once shooting a full moon that was awesome, but the print was a black piece of paper with a white dot on it. Anyway, as to your supplies, I do have a plastic bag I can send you. And a rubber band.

  2. skyephoto
    September 11, 2009 / 10:32 pm

    Hi Carol-
    As an alternative to the bag and rubber band, you can buy a $150 camera coat for all weather shooting. Looks like we may need it! See you tomorrow.

  3. Carol
    September 11, 2009 / 10:44 pm

    @Mythopolis, it's kind of hard to shoot the moon (no kidding.) A lot of people think it's going to be easy but then they wind up with a little spec, two moons, or some other odd variant of "not quite what I expected."

    @Skyephoto, forget the rubber bands and plastic bag (I actually go "high tech" and use a shower cap typically :~) we're going to need an arc and some hip waders. I've heard that the interstate is flooded and there are now cars floating down I35. Yipes!

    Still looking forward to the workshop though!

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