A river walk in New Westminster, B.C., with the Pattullo Bridge in the background. (John Enman photo)

A river walk in New Westminster, B.C., with the Pattullo Bridge in the background. (John Enman photo)

Making Pictures With Professional Photographer John Enman

Photographing New Westminster lights

My friend Jo McAvany and I went to the end of summer Vancouver Used Camera sale last weekend, and as usual having a great time looking at cameras, and meeting and talking with other photographers. It was the last Vancouver Camera show for this year.

Each time I go to Vancouver I try to stay in different locations, preferably near the ocean.

This time we stayed in New Westminster and I reserved a room in The Met Hotel on Columbia Street right across from Westminster Pier Park and the Fraser River.

After the camera sale we used ‘Skip the dishes’ so we could rest and relax in our room, Then as the light began dropping all we had to do was grab our cameras and tripods and walk across the road to photograph the lights along the pier and Pattullo Bridge.

What a great location that is for photographing city lights, or for that matter doing photography at any time. The park is bustling with people and there are all sorts of uniquely built metal structures that are fun to walk through and point a camera at.

We had decided to use wide-angle lenses on this trip. As I have written before, I’m not a fan of using wide angle, I prefer using my ever-so-sharp 24-70mm lens, but for this trip I decided to use a 16-35mm. Jo had a 35mm lens, but she loves shooting wide-angle and used her 14-24mm most of the time.

The park gave us lots of places to set our tripods up out of people’s way and make photographs from.

Using a digital camera gives a photographer so much exposure control in low light. I usually meter different areas of my scene, check the light on the main subject, make and exposure and check both the histogram and the image on my LCD. Then I open up or stop down my shutterspeed depending on the image I want to create. I am sure there are photographers that prefer using one of the program modes, but to control the light for an interesting and creative exposure I think manual mode is best.

I use the lowest ISO I can (ISO64 on my camera) and on this trip most of my exposures were around three minutes.

When I am shooting these kinds of low light photos I am interested in the lights of the city and I don’t increase my ISO. Increasing the camera’s ISO would brighten the exposure and the lights would disappear. I choose apertures of f/8 or f/16 most of the time and make my shutterspeed long. If I wanted to blur the water I would place a ND (neural density) filter on the lens for an even longer exposure.

Low light cityscapes and wide shots of bridges at night with reflections in the water are fun and not all that hard to photograph. Any DSLR and steady tripod will work. That’s all one needs.

Stay safe and be creative. These are my thoughts for this week.

Contact me at www.enmanscamera.com or emcam@telus.net.

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