The lies that we tell ourselves...
As I continue to grow in a creative career, and just overall within my personal life, I have been mindful of a certain idea over the past few years. Even if others say disparaging or discouraging things to, around, or about you, it is often what you say about yourself that limits or liberates you. Be careful of what you feed yourself mentally and speak over yourself.
One particular "self lie" I had perpetuated when it came to my photography was always, "I'm not that good at night photography." Natural light, daytime, or using a flash during event photography, I felt (and still feel) like a boss. But outdoors at night, I just kept subtly convincing myself that it was "not my strength." How riduculous. The true statement regarding it was, "I've never really tried night photography."
I would stretch the manual settings of my camera as far as possible when trying night photography, but I always knew deep down, that my shutter speed would not be slow enough to really capture night light from streets or buildings.. The only thing turning my self lie into a falsehood of the past was a very simple (and inexpensive) piece of equipment: a remote shutter release.
It's very easy, in order to expose night light well enough you need a very slow shutter speed, meaning that click or clap of the camera must take a long time to perform, so that more light is hitting the camera's sensor. The only reason that gets tricky is because while the camera's shutter is open, the camera must remain still, otherwise you'll have a blurry image. You can't really hold a camera in your hands and stay exactly, perfectly, still for 3 seconds, 10 seconds or longer. That's where a remote shutter comes in. You can set up your camera on a tripod, connect the remote shutter release, and then there's a nice little button on the shutter release that will activate your camera and snap the photo for you. No need to hold the camera, no need to press the shutter directly on the camera risking a bump or movement because of your finger press.
All it took was me slowing down a bit to actually price it out and shop for it. This simple piece of equipment, this miracle of technology that would open up my whole creative world at night and allow for me to create images I had only dreamed of was a measly...$30. That's it.
One day, I went to a Samy's Camera and purchased one. That same evening I packed my car with the camera and tripod and after nightfall I would make my way toward Downtown Los Angeles. I was thinking of many locations, but the first place to grab my attention was Chinatown. I parked and walked through immediately remembering the scene they filmed there for 2013's Gangster Squad (and many other films, I'm sure). I was getting good vibes, so I was ready to give it a shot:
Immediately, I was excited. I felt, and now feel...creatively complete or at the least creatively extended, I guess. It's like having a new way to breathe and explore. The color and light I admire at night is now in my creative vocabulary. I can now express that joy.
After Chinatown, I went to an old favorite location, the LA Music Center/Dorothy Chandler Pavilion. Actually, I had created a pretty nice night shot there once back in 2014:
I'm pretty sure that involved a tripod and a very delicate touch on the camera. But for this particular evening with the new remote shutter release, I was interested in that fountain and sculpture you see in the foreground. That is the Peace on Earth Sculpture, a 1969 creation by Lithuanian Cubist sculptor, Jacques Lipchitz. The fountain around the statue was not added until 1987 (and is actually damaging the statue) and cannot be missed. It's a popular location for photographers. Water flowing in the dark? I could not wait to see what I could do with that thanks to my new tool:
After pulling myself away from the fun of the fountain, to end, I grabbed a quick shot of the US Bank Tower:
Downtown LA, I like the way you glow.