Photo Essay

Light and Reflection Twice as Much Fun

Dual Image

It was a bitter cold night but it's supposed to be cold in December even in South Carolina. It was time to shoot The Night of a Thousand Lights at Brookgreen Gardens.

I have to state the obvious. I am not a professional photographer. I'm not a novice either. I have taken pictures for over 40 years but each time I purpose to shoot an event I am anxious and unsure. Especially when it comes to nighttime photography. The what if this or that creeps in. I run light scenarios in my head, take practice shots and rethink and think again the angles and perspectives. I want to always keep it simple and keep it real. Software is not my thing. I wanted to take great photographs at this awesome nighttime event. I wanted to see the gardens blanketed in the soft candle and Christmas light glow in a way that was unique.

My faithful husband, AKA "The Sherpa" and my patient daughter, AKA "The Saint", headed down to Myrtle Beach on Friday. They were encouraging and more than willing to brave the cold. They were even willing to help carry the gear and run block if the crowd invaded my space. We did a group mental check of the gear. Canon 5D Mark III and Mark II. All lenses and my flash. Most importantly this year, the new tripod.

We got the van parked and the camera bag loaded around 5:30 pm. Another mental check of the gear. Almost forget the extra batteries for the flash but my sweet daughter reminded me. The Garden's were packed but in my usual approach to sight seeing, we began our adventure backward to avoid the common flow of the crowd. It helped a great deal but not completely especially since I needed to set up and move my tripod multiple times for each shot. The lighting is glorious unless you're setting up a tripod. Fortunately, my Sherpa was prepared with his iPhone flashlight. The little things were not going to deter me from the mission.

Capture the glow of the lights on the peaceful pools. And if possible, avoid too many shots with the unknown, unnamed "yahoo people".

It took a great deal of patience on the part of my Sherpa and my lovely daughter and it took about 795 photographs to achieve my goal. What I failed to realize during the four hours was that the added on diopter I was using was four times stronger than my eyes needed! I had made the equipment change thinking it would help and allow me to shoot without my glasses. Trying to maneuver and adjust the tripod and focus in relative low light was increasingly frustrating. It took me longer because I kept reshooting and previewing each shot. I wasn't concerned about running low on battery. I had considered that contingency and brought two fully charged extras.

Dodging tour groups, gawking tourists, and running children throughout the evening was one of the biggest challenges. The evening required setting up, waiting and watching for a clear shot. Most people, ironically the younger generation with young families, were the politest and most considerate. Older visitors seemed to be in a rude hurry and nudged and pushed to get ahead and get their point and shoot picture. But patience won and I spent the time I wanted to play and experiment.

The Garden's closed at 10 pm and by then I had what I wanted and accomplished my goal. We were cold and stiff but we were glad we went. The end result was good in my critical way of thinking despite the crowd, the cold and incorrect diopter. I learned more about myself as a photographer and I learned that the best way to shoot at night is just to get out there and do it.

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1 response

  • Deborah King

    Deborah King said (4 Mar 2015):

    Gorgeous photos and story. You make wonderful images.

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