I attend a three-hour High-Speed Photography workshop this afternoon. We captured images of things that happen very fast by using flash to stop the motion. Loren Fisher has a high-speed photography rig in his basement. We experimented with capturing popping balloons, water splashing in wine glasses, and dropping strawberries into milk. I know it's a bit cliched but I had fun. I learned a lot about the timing of flashes and I developed an appreciation for patience and effort that is necessary for this type of photography. It's not easy!
We had good results with the coloured water sloshing from glasses that Loren had glued to a skateboard and strawberries splashing into a glass of cream. However, the balloon pop photography yielded poor results. I think that when the weather warms up I will try making my own rig and shooting some images in my garage.
This past weekend I attended a New York City Bridges Photography Workshop with Loren Fisher and a group of photographers from New York City, New Jersey and Connecticut. The New Jersey group met at the Bridgewater Train Station. Loren drove to Penn Station where we picked a photographer from Weehawken, then we zipped over to Grand Central Staton to pickup photographers from Greenwich and Manhattan.
Our first stop was in Fort Washington Park where our group photographed the George Washington Bridge GWB and The Little Red Lighthouse under the watchful eye of a Port Authority guard who insisted that we exclude the east support pillar in any of our photographs. Just to be sure we behaved, an NYC police patrol car was on the scene. Fort Washington Park runs along a section of the Hudson River from 72nd Street to 158th street.
Under construction from 1927-1932 by Swiss engineer, Othmar Ammann, the 1,450 m GWB is a double-decked suspension bridge spanning the Hudson River. The bridge connects the Washington Heights neighbourhood of Manhattan with the borough of Fort Lee in New Jersey. The GWB has 8 lanes on the upper deck with 6 lanes on the lower deck and transport over 103 million vehicles per year between.
The forty-foot Little Red Lighthouse was originally built as the North Hook Beacon at Sandy Hook, New Jersey, where it stood until 1917 when it became obsolete. The Lighthouse was moved to its current location in 1921 by the United States Coast Guard as part of a project to improve Hudson River navigational aids, and originally had a battery-powered lamp and a fog bell. It was operated by a part-time lighthouse keeper. In 1948, the lighthouse was decommissioned by the Coast Guard. The lights from the George Washington Bridge provided better lighting.
A months ago I attended a night photography workshop in Somerville, NJ led by photographer Loren Fisher. I’ve completed workshops and field trips on night photography with various instructors. Each instructor provides a different perspective and I was curious as to what Loren might do in this workshop.
We started in the Somerville Cemetery, a cemetery that has some large and spooky looking monuments. We met at Loren’s home in Somerville and drove over in a rented commuter van. We arrived at the cemetery before it was dark so there would still be some light in the sky to help set up the cameras. We had a full view of the night sky but as a state sandwich between two large metropolitan cities, there is so much light pollution in New Jersey that few stars are visible.
Loren gave the group some tips on setting our cameras for some light painting. I think I had an easier time setting up my camera. Changing the ISO, shutter speed and aperture was as easy as turning a dial. Loren used various coloured flashlights to illuminate dark objects — monuments and trees — in the cemetery. I am sure that for drivers passing by we made for a strange sight.
After we got out of the cemetery -- the zombies must have been on holiday -- we drove to downtown Somerville.
We some light painting on several buildings in downtown Somerville including the Somerset County Courthouse and the Somerset Hotel. The Somerset Hotel sign on the roof isn’t lit so Loren used his flashlight to add some light. I combined two shots of the hotel to create this final image; one with the hotel sign lit by Loren's flashlight and the other with a better light trail.
We also played with some long exposure tricks, like spinning the camera while photographing neon signs. It was a lot of fun.
We stopped at the intersection of North Bridge Street and Main Street to photography the light trails left by the tails lights of cars. Pedestrians and diners leaving bars and restaurants stopped to ask what was going on. Some of them looked at our group with a quizzical look. I imagined that some were thinking “what kind of weirdos stand out in the cold on street corners with a camera.”
One of our commented that a particular police car had driven by in both directions several times. Eventually, he stopped in the road and called out from his patrol car to ask what was going on. I don’t think he liked our answer. He drove away with an annoyed look. What does it say about our society if photography is a suspicious activity?
We finished the night on Division St., a pedestrian mall about half way down North Bridge Street.
Quotidian object and buildings and scenes look very different and interesting at night. This was the purpose of the workshop.