When you can’t sleep, shoot!

I haven’t been sleeping all that well lately, and so when I woke up at 4:30 this morning I decided to just go ahead and get out of the bed and see what the sunrise might look like.  After showering and getting dressed for work, I gathered up my little camera kit and headed east toward Scottsdale while it was still dark.  I had checked the weather forecast before I left the house, and it didn’t sound promising (cloudy with a 30% chance of rain), but I was hoping I would get lucky and there might be a break in the clouds when the sun came up.

I staked out a spot in the same park where I shot on Tuesday evening.  As the eastern sky began to lighten, I could see that there wasn’t going to be much color this morning, but I thought I might still get some interesting photos with the street lights, car lights (in streaks), and the patterns of the dark clouds.  There’s a pedestrian bridge that crosses over the street, and I got a few shots of that as well, and then a few of the field house near the soccer fields. The clouds were heavy and low this morning, almost like fog, so some of these shots may work better as black-and-whites.

I checked the results in the LCD screen of the camera and I think I got some pretty good stuff, but I won’t know for sure until I get home tonight and start playing around with them.  I shot everything in bracketed series of three so that I can use HDR on them if I want.  I used aperture-priority mode, mostly F/16 so I could get long shutter speeds for the car lights, and ISO 200.

Even though the weather wasn’t what I was hoping for, it was still a great way to start the day.  It was relatively peaceful in the park with just a little traffic noise and a few joggers breathing heavily when they passed.  The cool air was invigorating, and I was able to slow down and play around with each shot, while at the same time enjoying the bird song and subtle changes in the clouds and sky over the mountains as dawn came.

Now, I’m in the office, enjoying my coffee, wishing I could start processing my shots.  I’m sure I’m going to be really sleepy this afternoon, but guess who’s going to be sitting in front of the laptop for awhile tonight??


I’ve had a chance to go through the shots I took this morning.  Some of them turned out quite well, some were disappointing….par for the course.  The gray, gloomy skies didn’t give me much to work with after the sun came up, but with a little HDR processing, I did come up with a couple of things that I was happy with:

The shot above is an HDR of three bracketed shots, the first three shots that I took after getting set up.  I like how the trail of the car taillights was captured, as well as the spiky halo on the streetlight.  At first, I wasn’t sure I wanted the streetlight in the photo, but since there wasn’t a good angle of the bridge without including the light, I just accepted it (very zen-like!), and it grew on me.

The shot below was taken at the field house after the sun came up somewhere behind all those low-hanging clouds. I liked the way the reflection in the windows mirrored the view of the soccer fields off to the left of the camera.  This was my favorite shot of the day.  It’s also an HDR of three different bracketed photos.

Hoping for a little more sunshine this weekend, maybe a trip to Sedona to do some shooting!