Murphy's Light

Discussion in 'Exposure Discussion' started by NedL, Oct 31, 2013.

  1. NedL

    NedL Subscriber

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    This post is just a place to grumble. Feel free to ignore or commiserate.

    A couple years ago, I was standing at a pullout overlooking Anza Borrego in Southern California with the sun setting over the mountains behind me. Anza Borrego is in a broad flat plain, and I watched the shadow of the ridge behind me race across the plain at an almost unbelievable speed. The shadow moved miles in seconds. It was an amazing sight that I'll never forget.

    Fast forward a couple years. The past few weeks I've been driving by a tractor parked in the middle of a wide flat neatly plowed field. It casts neat long shadows in the late afternoon, and I've been meaning to stop for a photo. Yesterday I drove by it on the way to walk the dog and I thought to myself, "the light will be just perfect on the way home". So on the way home I stopped, but I was a little late. The sunlight was on the top 5 feet or so of the cab, but the base of the tractor was already in shadow. It still looked interesting and the light was dramatic. So I braced my camera on a fence post and as I was framing the picture, the fence post moved and made me release the shutter by mistake. I advanced the film, raised the camera to my eye, and the light was gone. There was no longer sunlight on the tractor at all. Couldn't have been more than 15 or 20 seconds. Wow.

    There is a ridge off to the West of the valley that the sun went behind, and it made me think not only of Anza Borrego, but how many times I've had the light change suddenly just when I wanted a photo!
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 31, 2013
  2. j-dogg

    j-dogg Subscriber

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    I've had shots I've been composing for years and haven't nailed the light just perfectly.
     
  3. gleaf

    gleaf Subscriber

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    I get a few days twice a year when the setting sun is directly 'down river' .. then overcast must be elsewhere. Photographers as sculpture artist's. Attempting to capture the vision in the chosen medium.
    Earth is rotating at 15 degrees an hour. Not much time when your cutting the edge. Might try photographers ephemeras app. for rise set and angle. That is one fast moving edge to catch. Best of opportunities to you.
     
  4. jnanian

    jnanian Advertiser Advertiser

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    hey ned

    sometimes i go by a building and then the next time i am there with my camera
    the building has been torn down ... no rhyme or reason, here one day, gone the next!
     
  5. mesantacruz

    mesantacruz Member

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    hilarious.


    You know about the light, it just won't stop long enough. It's what makes things beautiful, and enticing. my wife still doesn't understand when i point to the wonderful pastels and how beautiful they are. even though i do B&W.
     
  6. j-dogg

    j-dogg Subscriber

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    I went to Tennessee with my mother this year and would get out of the car and wait for the perfect formations of clouds and light conditions.

    I remember waiting two hours in Gum Swamp in the mountains and hearing her say "I'm gonna shut the god damn light off!" LOL :laugh:

    needless to say I will be solo next time I go
     
  7. NedL

    NedL Subscriber

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    :laugh: Ha! EXACTLY! I've got stories like that. I'm half convinced that if you see a photo, think about it, and then even for half a heartbeat think "I'll come back and get it later", whatever is in the scene will just disappear into a parallel universe.
     
  8. Shawn Dougherty

    Shawn Dougherty Member

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    Murphy's light. I like that. =)

    And nanian. I know exactly what you mean. I have many pictures which if I hadn't stopped that day would no longer exist because of destruction... trees, buildings, you name it. Of course there are many more images that I didn't stop for and are now lost... beauty, in all it's guises, is an ephemeral thing.
     
  9. fotch

    fotch Member

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    The picture that got away. :laugh:
     
  10. silveror0

    silveror0 Member

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    Murphy is an optimist!
     
  11. Shawn Dougherty

    Shawn Dougherty Member

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    Well, I believe that it's always the right light to photograph something... =)
     
  12. jeffreyg

    jeffreyg Subscriber

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    Several years ago I was photographing in Yellowstone National Park rather early in the morning as I recall it was looking East down the Nez Perce Creek. Everything about the lighting with mist and all was perfect. Just after removing my camera from the tripod and placing it back in my backpack from behind my view a flock of ducks or geese in perfect "V" formation flew into the scene in just the right position of what would have been the frame. Oh well, that's how it goes at least the picture remains in my mind's eye (the location of my best pictures that got away).

    http://www.jeffreyglasser.com/
     
  13. Kc2edh

    Kc2edh Member

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    That's happened to me enough times that I never leave the house without a camera. I've had too many ex-girlfriends (ex for a reason!) who said "Put down the camera and let's GO!" Needless to say, every time I was forced to drop the camera before getting in the car, we passed a perfectly photogenic scene. As Murphy's light dictates, now that I carry my camera everywhere there are 90% less beautiful landscapes wherever I happen to be!
     
  14. ntenny

    ntenny Member

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    What gets me are the times when I *get* that instant of light, everything goes off perfectly, I'm sure I've taken the Greatest Photo Ever, and then when I develop it, the image that I imagined so brilliantly turns out to be completely blah.

    -NT
     
  15. Laurent

    Laurent Subscriber

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    It's just an issue with "speed of dark", as per Terry Pratchett's DiscWorld:

    The speed of dark is known to be greater than that of light. It must be, otherwise the dark wouldn’t be able to get out of the light’s way.

    Except in this case,, darkness does not want to get off the way, but go where it wants ;-)
     
  16. Paul Glover

    Paul Glover Member

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    All of the above and probably some others I've chosen to forget, too. Murphy and me, we go waaaaaaay back. ;-)