After spend what might be way-to-much time on social media and watching people use camera phones and I-pads for photography, I’ve decided that I’m a “Camera-Snob”. Yep that’s right, a Camera-Snob. Watching the general public take pictures makes me cringe and crazy or crazier.
Let me explain. In early September, 2013 my wife and I took a trip to Mount Rushmore, Crazy Horse Memorial and the Black Hills. Both Mount Rushmore and Crazy Horse Memorial have wonderful night time ceremonies. Being a photographer, I had my camera and tripod with me for the night time light shows.
We’re sitting in the outdoor theatre, the sun has set and the show begins. I’m looking around watching people take pictures of the ceremony with their camera (point-n-shoot, I-pad or camera phone). Now my guess is we’re seated – oh, a half mile or more from the 4 faces carved in the mountain. I found this humorous, people raise their camera, trip the shutter, they look down at the results and shake their head in disappointment. Then without making any camera adjustments, the person raises the camera again, trips the shutter, looks down at the results and again shakes their head in disappointment. Didn’t Albert Einstein say, the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results?
Mount Rushmore in South Dakota shot in the dark. There was enough light at 8:30 P.M. after the sun went down to record this image.
So what do you do in this situation? First of all turn off the flash. The typical on-camera flash will effectively reach to about 20 feet. So in the case of Mount Rushmore, you’ll see the 20 feet of the scene reasonably exposed and the rest of the scene will be BLACK. Its physics folks, you can’t change it. With your flash set to OFF and the rest of the camera in “auto”, you stand the best chance of getting a picture. The way to get a good image under this lighting will depend on your maximum ISO speed available and if you have something to steady the camera for a long exposure, like a tripod. Since its digital photography, you can make changes to the exposure to dial in the correct setting(s).
This image was shot during the Mount Rushmore Light Show.
Oh yeah, you’ll need to understand something about photography to understand how to shoot in the dark using existing light. Sometimes, you just have to be smarter than the camera. Sorry the snob in me is coming out.