Tuesday, November 12, 2019

A Rare Photo Shoot With a Friend


If there is one thing you have probably noticed about me is that I tend to shoot alone. There are very few times when I get together with another photographer and virtually never a group. It's not that I am particularly anti-social but I value my solitude and, honestly, most of my shoots are last minute events. That is not to say I am always alone, my wife and I enjoy going out to parks and I will shoot. My son has also accompanied me on a couple occasions recently. This past Monday was one of the rare exceptions.

Jim and I grew up in the same town and have known each other forever. I think Monday may have been the first time we have seen each other in more than 40 years.... I've been meaning to get together with Jim for a while and we even had a shoot scheduled once before but I had to cancel. I sent Jim a quick message on Sunday to see if he was available to shoot a sunset, fortunately he was.

Where Should We Go?

I checked Clear Outside1 to see what kind of conditions we could expect for the sunset; it was calling for 98% high cloud coverage. That isn't good but it's better than low clouds - at least we had a fighting chance of some color. Luck was on our side because the full moon was appearing on Monday, this gave up a second opportunity for images. I decided on Chestnut Point at Manasquan Reservoir because I knew we would be able to come away with some images even if the sunset was a bust. A quick check with MoonCalc1 showed me that the moon was rising at just about the same time as the sun was setting. I was actually looking forward to the rising moon than the setting sun.

So Many Compositions!

This was Jim's first time at the reservoir and I wanted to make sure he came away with some good images so I arrived a little early to look around. I have shot here before (Manasquan Reservoir - A Sunrise & Sunset Weekend) but things change with the water level of the reservoir, dramatically changing the landscape at times. It didn't take long to find this little pool of water, the water was almost mirror smooth making a nice contrast with the small waves in the reservoir. It has a nice foreground, too.

We broke out our tripods, set up the cameras and waited for the show to begin. It was nice catching up after all this time and having someone to pass the time with while waiting. As the sun was setting the reality hit - we weren't going to get the amazing sunset that I was hoping for. The cloud cover was just too thick, although there was a nice red glow around the Environmental Center, just no decent composition to go along with it.

This is one reason I don't often invite others - it is one thing to drag myself out and leave empty-handed but it is another thing when you drag someone along with you and they come away with nothing. I think that is one reason why I haven't done any workshops....

It is a beautiful and delightful sight to behold the body of the Moon. – Galileo Galilei

The Silver Lining

As it became clear that sunset was a bust I was desperately looking for something to salvage the excursion. That is when the moon made it's first, faint, appearance over the distant trees. Okay, we are going to witness something special if the moon peeks thru the clouds for us. We stayed where we were but turned the cameras slightly to the north and awaited our chance. I took a couple shots but decided there was too much foreground and that moving closer to the water would make for a better composition. I don't want to brag, but I was right.... 😉

The word of the day was "bracket" and I did. The last time I had the moon in a landscape I ended up with little more than a bright orb in the sky. I knew I wasn't able to get a well-exposed moon and well-exposed landscape so I went to far extremes in exposure; the plan is to use blending in Photoshop to come up with a good composite image. I will do that at a later date and dedicate an entire post to composites and exposure blending. The images shown here are all processed from a single exposure - there was no HDR or exposure blending used.

In the end, I think I walked away with a few reasonably good images and hope that Jim did the same. I haven't seen his work yet but hope to soon.

At The End of The Day

When all is said and done, I'm glad that I invited Jim to join me for a shoot. The intended purpose of the get-together was for me to deliver a calendar to him and we originally were going to meet at my office for the exchange. I had to cancel that somewhat last minute and it turned out for the best.

I may have to re-think some of my planned outings and change them from solo outings to collaborations. Only time will tell.

Thanks for stopping by, I hope you enjoyed the story and images. I would love to hear your stories about plans that go awry but turn out better than expected. Leave me some comments below. Thanks again!

1 I wrote about Clear Outside and MoonCalc in Manasquan Reservoir - A Sunrise & Sunset Weekend. I will be writing full reviews after I spend more time working with them.