Monday, March 1, 2021

Handheld Shooting At Night

New Technology - New Possibilities

I have always been passionate about low light photography. There's something magical about the capturing the faint light that's available when the world is dark.

Cities take on a particularly alluring visual quality at night. Their complex beauty is enhanced by a multitude of colors of light from street lamps, shops and restaurants, and moving vehicles.

a photo of a steam pipe in new york city at night
Steamy Night - Manhattan (2021)

I try to capture the highest-quality images that I can. In low light conditions, that usually means working with the camera on a tripod. In dim light, typically we need long shutter speeds in order to gather enough light to make a proper exposure. Our bodies can't hold the camera still long enough to do this without creating blurry photos.

a photo of shops on a new york street corner at night
Shops On A Corner - New York (2021)

I enjoy working on a tripod, but there are times when I like the freedom handheld shooting. I can grab photos in a crowd or even dash out into the traffic lanes momentarily. 

Fortunately, advances in camera technology have made handheld night photography a reality. Mobile phones achieve good results by taking a burst of photos and using computational algorithms to clean up noise an other imperfections.

a photo of a neon sign at a juice bar in new york city
Juice Bar Neon - New York (2021)

With a modern digital cameras, noise is well-controlled. We can use fast shutter speeds in dark conditions, because the camera doesn't need a lot of light to create an image. Couple this light-collecting efficiency with fast lenses and in-body image stabilization, and handheld shooting at night has become practical and effective.

a photo of a new york city comedy club at night
Comedy Club - New York City (2021) - Handheld HDR

I still use a tripod when I can and when I need to squeeze every last bit of quality out of an image, but I'm able to take photos now handheld that rival that quality and give me a whole lot more freedom to grab night shots in a fast-paced city.

Sony a7R III and a7R IV
Lenses: Sony FE 55mm f/1.8 ZA and 85mm f/1.8

Light happens. Be ready. Shoot hard.
All Rights Reserved

Sunday, December 20, 2020

2020 Wrap Up

Making The Most Of Difficult Times

We heard the news at the start of the year that a mysterious virus was killing people in Wuhan, China. We didn't panic; we had heard of events like this before. New diseases emerged, but most of us were never impacted. We trusted the authorities to get it under control.

Covid-19 was different. It was easily transmissible and could be spread by people who showed no symptoms. The old method of checking the temperature of airline passengers before they boarded planes didn't work. The virus spread around the world virtually undetected. 

This began an extraordinary year of lockdowns, shortages, and bitter arguments about the best way to control the disease. The divided response to the pandemic was as big a challenge as the disease itself. Some citizens locked themselves in their homes and wondered where they might be able to buy toilet paper, while others flocked to socialize at bars and beaches. Hospitals were overwhelmed while politicians argued whether to provide them with money or badly needed supplies.

The stage was set for a year unlike any other in modern history. Vacations were cancelled. Weddings were postponed. Businesses failed. Unemployment climbed to levels not seen since the Great Depression. Parents struggled to educate their children at home.

And many, many, many people died. Countless families lost loved ones. The rest of us adapted as well as we could.

a photo of Grand Central Station - New York City (2020) - Daniel South Photography
Grand Central Station - New York City (2020)

I had expected that 2020 would be a fun and fulfilling year. I was looking forward to traveling and seeing new places. I had to cancel those plans, of course, but despite the worries and the restrictions, I tried to make the most of the time and the opportunities that were available. I figured that life didn't need to stop completely; I just had to adapt while being as careful as possible.

I started the year with three main objectives. I meant them to apply to my life globally, but they each had an impact on my photography.

1. Travel more
2. Instead of buying new things, get the most out of what you already have
3. Focus on what you do best

I was planning a trip to California when the pandemic started to spread. I considered tempting fate and still going while the ticket prices were insanely cheap, but ultimately, I decided not to risk it.

The upside is that I had more time to explore beautiful places near home.

a photo of the Moon Rising Over The Bow Bridge - Thanksgiving Day (2020) - Daniel South Photography
Moon Rising Over The Bow Bridge - Thanksgiving Day (2020)

The second objective of appreciating what I have is something that I need to remind myself to do occasionally. I enjoy the thought of picking up some shiny new lens to add to my collection, despite the fact that I'm not lacking anything that I really need.

Appreciation brings balance and contentment to our hearts, but it is especially important especially at a time when life has become so difficult for so many.

a photo of a Wide-Angle View Of Pershing Square New York 2020 Daniel South Photography
Wide-Angle View Of Pershing Square (16mm)

Practicing appreciation in my photography inspired me in a number of ways this past year. I used wide-angle lenses more often. Typically, use telephoto lenses in the city. They enable me to exclude elements that I don't want to see in the final image. Wide-angle lenses give a more dramatic and inclusive view.

I also discovered a new love for a lens that I haven't used much and even considered selling. It turns out to be a great lens for capturing handheld images in the dark, something that I had not had much luck with in the past. 

a handheld night photo in new york city daniel south photography
Handheld Night Photography - Sony FE 55mm f/1.8 ZA

The third objective was meant to inspire better use of my time. There are only so many hours in a day. If we spend those hours on activities that don't leverage our true gifts, then we're not accomplishing all that we could.

a panoramic night photo of central park south new york
Nighttime Panorama Of Central Park South - New York (2020)

I enjoy taking photos at night. I haven't always been good at this type of photography, and for a long time, my results were usually flops.

I have worked hard in recent years to develop the skills required to make my nighttime images look the say I wanted to capture them. I felt that this was an area where I would do well to invest more time. When you develop a strength, you might as well leverage it. Create unique expressions that everyone can appreciate.

a photograph of bethesda terrace central park new york at night
Bethesda Terrace At Night - Central Park - New York (2020)

This challenging year is nearly over. 2021 is not going to be easy, but things are beginning to move in the right direction. Life may never be the same, and for a lot of families, the grief of loss will last for a long time. But one of these days, we'll be back to doing normal things again, traveling, shopping, going to plays and concerts and ball games. It's a future worth working for, worth fighting for.

a photo of a lady riding a bicycle past christmas decorations in new york city
Christmas in New York (2020)

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays, everyone! I wish you and yours comfort, security, and an abundance of blessings.

Sony a7R IV
Lenses: Various

Light happens. Be ready. Shoot hard.
All Rights Reserved

Wednesday, December 9, 2020

Sunset Reflections - Central Park

An Early Autumn Stroll By The Lake

a photo of a sunset reflecting on the lake in central park new york city

The park was busy that afternoon. Fortunately, I was able to find a tranquil view without pedestrians. Two Canadian geese lounged on a smooth rock.

Camera: Sony a7R IV
Lens: Sony FE 24-105mm f/4 G OSS

Light happens. Be ready. Shoot hard.
All Rights Reserved

Wednesday, November 25, 2020

Cupcakes In Tow - Central Park (2020)

Deliver The Goodies

I'm not sure where they were going in such a hurry, but I'll bet that everyone was happy to receive the cupcakes!

a photo of a family riding bikes carrying a container of chocolate cupcakes
Cupcakes In Tow - Central Park (2020)

Sony a7R IV
Lens: Sony FE 24-105mm f/4 G OSS

Light happens. Be ready. Shoot hard.
All Rights Reserved

Tuesday, November 17, 2020

Pretzel Stand - New York City (2020)

Twisted Logic

It was a beautiful autumn day under clear blue skies. The light was so pure that I didn't have to make any edits to the image file. I didn't alter the color, contrast, or white balance. I just added a bit of sharpening and cropped the image to a square, eliminating a couple of people who were walking on the right side of the frame.

a photo of a pretzel stand near central park in new york city
Pretzel Stand - New York City (2020)

An acquaintance remarked that the photo reminded him of the cover photo on Steely Dan's Pretzel Logic album.

I looked up the Pretzel Logic album on, where else, wikipedia. It turns out that the album photo was taken just a few blocks north of where I captured this shot on Fifth Avenue. Central Park served as the scenic backdrop for both photos.

Decades later, the legacy of New York pretzels lives on!

Sony a7R IV
Lens: Sony FE 24-105mm f/4 G OSS

Light happens. Be ready. Shoot hard.
All Rights Reserved

Monday, November 16, 2020

Cellist In A Tunnel - New York (2020)

A Little Night Music

Performers in public spaces contribute to the magic of the New York experience.

a photo of a musician playing cello in a tunnel in new york central park at night
Cellist In A Tunnel - New York (2020)

Sony a7R IV
Lens: Sony FE 24-105mm f/4 G OSS

Light happens. Be ready. Shoot hard.
All Rights Reserved

Wednesday, November 11, 2020

Early Voting In New York City 2020

Record Turnout

We just had a big election here in the United States. Despite the raging Covid-19 pandemic, more people turned out to vote than in any previous election. Many voted by mail while many others voted in person in the weeks leading up to Election Day in an attempt to avoid crowding.

Here are some photos of people waiting to vote in New York City about a week before Election Day. As you can see, turnout was extraordinary.

a photo of early voting lines in new. york city 2020

a photo of people waiting to vote in new york city 2020

a photo of early voting lines in new york city 2020

a photo of early voting in new york city 2020

a photo of people lined up to vote in 2020 pandemic election new york

a photography of election 2020 people waiting in line to vote new york city
Long Lines For Early Voting in New York City (2020)

Sony a7R IV

Lens: Sony FE 24-105mm f/4 G OSS

Light happens. Be ready. Shoot hard.
All Rights Reserved