Featured Photo: Ventura Pier And the Passage of Time

Ventura Pier, California - Long Exposure (color)

I woke up early Monday morning and decided that I’d take some long exposure photos of the Ventura Pier.

I felt like I was at the beach for an hour, but I was there for almost three. The process of doing long time exposures seems to blur time. Michael Kenna mentions something that I believe has something to do with this quality.

“Getting photographs is not the most important thing. For me it’s the act of photographing. It’s enlightening, therapeutic and satisfying, because the very process forces me to connect with the world. When you make four-hour exposures in the middle of the night, you inevitably slow down and begin to observe and appreciate more what’s going on around you. In our fast-paced, modern world, it’s a luxury to be able to watch the stars move across the sky.” I love this quote so much that I devoted a blog post to it a few months ago.  It really summarizes how I feel about photography.

This photo was taken with my trusty old 18-200mm lens, a lens I call my “walkabout” lens. Perfect for travel due to its flexibility. The camera was just above the shade of the pier, so I stood in front of the camera, blocking the sunlight from  the lens. Let this be a lesson to you never to forget your lens hood – my folly is your gain! 😀

The glow of the water is from the morning sun, but the long exposure gives it a mystical quality.  It is not “Photoshopped” in any way except for some of the usual contrast and sharpening.  The cool otherworldly look is solely due to the long exposure!

Ventura Pier, Nikon D90, 18-200mm VR Nikkor lens, f/29, 10 second exposure, two Tifffen 0.9 ND filters – at Ventura Pier, California.

Featured Quote: Michael Kenna on the Act of Photography Connecting Us To the World

Joshua Tree Star Trails (Ken Lee, night photographer)

Joshua Tree Star Trails.  This is a photo that I (Ken) took in the middle of a warm summer night.  I brought out one of those zero-gravity loungers and looked up at the sky during the entire exposure.  Indeed, as Michael Kenna describes in his quote below, the act of photography does connect us to the world. NIkon D90, 18-200mm VR lens, MC-DC2 remote release cord, and my father’s 1970s Sears metal tripod.

I love this quote and thought I’d share with you.

“Getting photographs is not the most important thing. For me it’s the act of photographing. It’s enlightening, therapeutic and satisfying, because the very process forces me to connect with the world. When you make four-hour exposures in the middle of the night, you inevitably slow down and begin to observe and appreciate more what’s going on around you. In our fast-paced, modern world, it’s a luxury to be able to watch the stars move across the sky.” – Michael Kenna in “Photographer’s Forum Interview” – Winter 2003 by Claire Sykes

Featured Photo: My Eyes Have Seen You, Let Them Photograph Your Soul

"Jim Morrison" with Break On Through, 17 December 2011

“Jim Morrison” with Break On Through, an amazing Doors tribute band, 17 December 2011. Nikon D90 with a 50mm Nikkor f1.8 lens, 1/100, f/2, 1250 ISO.

Break On Through to the Faster Side
There’s nothing like a nice fast lens.  I like shooting concert photos with natural light most of the time, and a fast lens always helps.  I’m using the Nikkor 50mm f/1.4, which at $300, is a pretty good bargain.  There’s another 50mm lens, the f/1.8, for scarcely more than $100, which is a steal.  Dark light?  With a big aperture, I can still shoot at 1/100 and “freeze” the action without getting too much noise (grain).

I like to wander.  I took the above photo of “Jim Morrison”, singer of the Doors tribute band Break On Through”, while standing next to the drummer on stage.  I really like the look of someone who is backlit.

The Legendary Pharoah Sanders

Who is the Pharoah Of Them All? The legendary Pharoah Sanders at the Catalina, this one taken with the same Nikon D90, but with a much slower lens, an 18-200mm VR, shot with a rather “low tech” method of minimizing camera shake! 😀

Take It As It Comes
Sometimes, you don’t always have what you need.  Here at this gig with the legendary Pharoah Sanders at the Catalina, I didn’t own the faster lens, and had considerably slower 18-200mm VR Nikkor zoom lens.  I got away with less movement by using the VR (Vibration Reduction) technology AND by squeezing the camera tight against one of the posts to minimize camera shake while shooting.  I still picked up a bunch of noise from having to bump my ISO quite high, so I had to spend a little time in Photoshop cleaning that up.  But my philosophy is that I’d rather get the shot with a little noise than not get the shot at all.  And this photo has been one of my most popular concert photos, and something I personally treasure.

Equipment:  Nikon D90,  50mm f1/4 (first photo); 18-200mm VR Nikkor lens (2nd photo)