Friday, January 17, 2014

"Play Misty For Me" by Steve Rengers

"Play Misty For Me" - Moonstone Beach - Cambria California ~ © Steve Rengers (click to enlarge)
Steve Rengers took our Photo of the Day at about 90 minutes before sunrise with his Nikon D800, using a Rokinon 14mm f/2.8 prime lens. His exposure was for 10 seconds at f/3.2, ISO 1600, in full manual mode. He also added foreground lighting with an off-camera Nikon SB600 speed light, fired by hand from approximately six feet away from the camera position, with the strobe on the lowest power setting.

Challenges: Steve often asks himself, "Why is it that the best composition always dictates that your tripod will be placed in the most precarious spot possible?" Despite having the waves splashing up over the rocks, and creating a salt mist that required a lens cleaning every 30 seconds, this is the type of challenge Steve loves! He often finds he needs to reorder his priorities so as to not let complicated situations get the best of him.

"It helps to know what you want to achieve from an image and use that as a starting point," says Steve. Getting the desired water movement became the biggest challenge, and a 10-second exposure turned out to be the ticket. From there he went down a stop to improve the sharpness. Then it was just a matter of ratcheting down the ISO until the histogram was in the sweet spot.

Adding the light painting presented the next challenge. Once the shutter was activated (using a shutter delay), Steve would raced off to get a position for his speed light. He had ten seconds to jump a dozen or so slippery rocks in hopes of landing in a suitable spot to fire his speed light manually. "This process went on a while and after 20 or so attempts I finally got the correct lighting in conjunction with the correct water motion."

Equipment and Priorities: Steve went through the lens buying and hardware acquisition phase, blaming that for his shortcomings. After a few years, it started to become apparent to him that composition and understanding light was most important. He sold a dozen lenses and settled on three that he uses for all his landscape work. Those are the Nikkor AF 17-35mm f/2.8, a 14mm f/2.8 manual prime (Rokinon) and a Nikkor AF 50mm f/1.4. A headlamp to keep his hands free at night, and a sturdy tripod that spiders out close to the ground, with nice rubber feet to keep it firmly planted, rounds out his collection.

Steve currently lives in Bakersfield, California. He started his photographic ventures long ago, during the age of film. "I firmly and happily embraced the digital era, with its instant satisfaction advantages, coupled with the ability to see what you are doing wrong on the fly and make the needed corrections before you leave the field."

Passion for the night: One successful night shoot at the Trona Pinnacles, in the Mojave desert, on a perfect night, was all it took for Steve to become hooked on night photography; and that is what drives his passion today. He often finds himself alone in the dark. His friends call him "weird" because of his passion for night photography, and more so for staying up all night waiting for these precious moments to materialize. "I get a huge amount of self-satisfaction from shooting at night, because whenever I find myself alone at 2:00 am, staring up a blanket of stars, I know I am capturing something uncommon; and to me, everything looks so much better at night."

"Pinnacle Party" - Trona Pinnacles, Mojave Desert ~ © Steve Rengers (click to enlarge)
More of Steve Rengers' images can be seen on his website.

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