Deep in the woods…

My favorite image from the shoot - click for a larger version

After nearly two weeks off, I was getting a little stir-crazy and decided to get out and take some photographs.  I packed up my gear in my new Timbuk2 bag (review still in progress – I’ve got to get it out and about, right?) and headed to a local lake, intending to grab some sunset photos.  This is a bit of a change for me – I’ve always been a dawn-shooter, and I learned a couple things while I was out there.

First, if you’re going to be off the path a bit, and you’re not familiar with the terrain and vegetation, a walking stick of some kind isn’t a bad idea.  I was lucky – I saw one that was essentially a long, cool piece of driftwood on the shore and I grabbed it, thinking my daughter might like it, .  As I walked along the shore a bit to find a better spot to set up, the thorny brambles got very thick and the stick came in very handy.

Shooting at dawn has been pretty fun. There are rarely many people around, the light is great and of course I’ve always finished in full daylight.  Time for breakfast!  But shooting at dusk was beautiful, too, and the longer I waited the more the light changed – it just seemed to get better and better.

One small problem.  When I was done, it was pretty darn dark.  I was well off the path.  Remember that handy walking stick?  Useless if you can’t see the brambles and eye-level vines in the inky night with only a sliver of moonlight.  I struggled a fair bit, and came close to turning my ankle a couple of times on unseen roots.  The good news was I didn’t have to go too far to find the path, and even if I’d missed it, I had just enough light to keep the quickly-fading sun at my back and I still would have hit the parking lot eventually.

I was lucky – if it had been a more complicated or longer hike in, I might have been in an uncomfortable spot.  I did have my cell phone with plenty of signal (I actually checked that when I got there), but the bigger lesson adds yet another thing to my ever-growing kit of shooting equipment:  a flashlight.  If you’re going to be shooting in darkness, a flashlight (or two) is a good idea to have in your bag, especially if you’re shooting at dusk.

I’m now looking for LED flashlights that take AA rechargeable batteries (some apparently don’t).  I’ll probably get two, and carry one and a spare set of batteries for most shoots and two and two sets of extra batteries if I’m going to be anywhere remote.

I’ll report back on the brands I consider and which I choose, but in the meantime, keep environmental factors in mind when you’re going out to shoot.  It can save some hassle, or maybe more than that…

You can check out the set from that evening on my Flickr page.

In the meantime, any stories of sticky spots from a photo shoot?

6 thoughts on “Deep in the woods…

  1. I always have a Petzl headlamp in my camera pack, consider one because it still leaves your hands available for other tasks.

  2. Pingback: My favorite photographs of 2011 | Enthusiast Photographer

  3. A flashlight isn’t shooting equipment, it’s living equipment. I second the recommendation of a headlamp when out shooting in the dark. Check out ZebraLight for some of the smallest and most innovative 1AA lights. The H51Fc has a lightly diffused beam of high CRI light at about 4000k, which is pretty easy on the eyes and renders colors quite well, making it better than the average LED for providing a little extra light for a photo. They’ve also started coming out with d (daylight) models at 5000K, which are similar, a little brighter, and probably nicer indoors. They’re well made, well designed, efficient, compact, and you can use them like a headlamp, torch, or just set them on a desk like a work light. Good stuff.

    Petzls are fine too, but their most common models tend to have you fumbling with three AAAs instead of just one AA, the comparable models are bigger, and they don’t offer the same choice of specific premium LEDs.

    And by the way, that sunset photo is gorgeous!

    • Hi – Thanks for visiting Enthusiast Photographer, and thanks especially for the information on flashlights!

      I discovered some of the amazing forums dedicated to lighting, and I have to admit at being surprised how complex and technical they can be!

      Lastly, I really appreciate your comment on my photo – the scene struck me and stopped me dead in my tracks. I’ve received a fair bit of feedback that the trees are distracting and the water line is dead-center in the frame (vs. aligning it with the “rule of thirds”), but I’m very happy with it!

      Thanks again and stop by often!

  4. Pingback: My favorite photographs of 2011 | Enthusiast Photographer

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