Available Darkness

I went up to Picture Lake yesterday for autumn photos of Mt. Shuksan.  The place was mobbed in mid-afternoon when the light was nice on the mountain, with photographers everywhere.  Many failed to heed the “stay on the trail” signs, trampling a delicate resource.  Shame on them.

Mt. Shuksan at Twilight

I made my sunny afternoon photos, then headed on up to Artist Point for more variations. Did I need more Shuksans? Probably not.  Could I resist a beautiful sunny day under blue skies with early-peak fall color?  No.  So I shot with a variety of foregrounds until the sun went down.  Then I headed back down the road to Picture Lake.

By this time the sun was off the mountain but the sky was still light.  There were two other photographers still working from the paved viewing platform and I eventually joined them for the view of the mountain reflected in the perfectly calm lake. Both of the others were advanced hobbiests, one shooting with a 6x17cm back on a 4×5 view camera and the other an advanced Canon digital body.  They were both planning to stick around to shoot star trails on the moonless night.  I was tired and hungry (you’d think I’d learn to always keep some food in my camera pack) so I didn’t stay that long.

The photo here was made about 7:45 pm, with a 90-second exposure. One of the really nice things about digital is there’s no reciprocity law failure like there was with film.  No extra exposure needed, no weird color shifts. In the original you can see the beginnings of star trails.  I couldn’t see the stars above Shuksan with my naked eyes while I was shooting. Speaking eyes, mine are getting definitely older so I have more trouble focusing than I used to. Autofocus doesn’t work very well in near darkness.  Note for the future:  prefocus the camera before it gets dark and then turn autofocus off.

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3 thoughts on “Available Darkness

  1. Cathi Lamoreux on said:

    How come no one comments on your photos? This one is absolutely breathtaking and I am glad you overrode your hunger long enough to stay for it. I check your blog frequently and am always pleased when you have a new post. Keep up the great work and thanks for taking the time to explain camera settings,exposures, etc.

  2. Thanks Cathi. It takes a fair amount of patience, but I really like shooting at the edge of night for landscapes and buildings. Just a little earlier in the evening lends interesting color to plants, too. Maybe I’ll post one of those later today to show what I mean.

  3. Great image, Mark. Sydney and I enjoyed your insight on the tours and your shared expertise in your presentations. We had a wonderful time with Dave and Trish and worked on our photo skills at Butchart and Bellvue and a few choice sites of your great area. Thanks for the blog tips. I will revamp my site for spring and add a blog more as an ‘article’ site in conjunction with my main site. My goal is to get young casual gardeners and non gardeners interested in plants, nature and sustainability. Gardeners in Florida already know us so we need to push to new frontiers.