“Night Moves”

Ok, I borrowed the title of Bob Seger’s December of 1976 hit single.  My article has nothing to do with Seger’s song…I just liked the title.

On a cool, damp night last weekend my friend Jo and I were positioning our tripods at Vancouver’s Science World. As we choose subjects to photograph along the False Creek waterfront. She turned to me and mentioned that she thought the calm ocean with the reflecting lights from the city was “moving”.   

At first I thought she was talking about how the moored sailboats were “moving” and appeared blurry in our long exposure photos, but as I stood in the shadows enjoying the city lights I realized she meant the scene we were photographing was inspiring and stimulating.   

My title “Night Moves” seemed appropriate.

Jo McAvany and I had made the four-hour trip to Vancouver to attend the Vancouver Camera Swap and Sale.  The organizer, Tonchi Martinic wrote, “After all this time of this COVID crisis, I am happy to tell you that I am going to have the Vancouver Camera Swap Meet on October 17th, 2021”.   So I loaded my car with cameras and equipment from my shop, easily talked Jo into going with me, booked accommodation, and drove to Vancouver.

We had planned on doing some “street” type photography at the Richmond night market that first night, but the wind and pounding rain started just after we arrived so we were forced hold up in our hotel and waited till after the Camera sale the next day. Hopefully we can take another trip before the winter snows.

After our busy and fun day at the Camera Swap and Sale we found an Italian restaurant for supper, then grabbed our cameras and drove to the Vancouver Science Center to spend the evening making long exposures of the city lights along False Creek.

“False Creek is a short narrow inlet in the heart of Vancouver, separating the Downtown and West End neighbourhoods from the rest of the city. It is one of the four main bodies of water bordering Vancouver.” 

We also made a quick stop on the way to photograph the colourfully lighted ninety-foot sails atop the iconic Canada Place.

They are two very fun locations to photograph anytime, but at night Canada Place and Science World are special.

Jo was using a 28-300mm lens and I had my 24-120mm lens.  We had thought about bringing our 24-70mm lenses, but the 28-300 and 24-120 would be more versatile if we got to do street photography.  The only other equipment we needed was our tripods, and oh, clean handkerchiefs to wipe the slow, wet drizzle off our cameras.

I recently read an article on night photography by American photographer Todd Vorenkamp. I liked his description of taking pictures at night, “The physiology of our eyes causes them to see very differently than the camera at night. During the day, the cones in the retina reveal the world in Technicolor. At night, the cone’s companions, the rods, work overtime to offer a picture of what is before you, which the cones relay with muted colors. The camera does not know the natural boundaries of rods and cones. It has the ability to capture color regardless of the level of ambient light. Therefore, the camera allows us to see our dark surroundings in a vastly different way than our eyes perceive it. Photographing at night allows us to see night in all its wonderful color.”

For those of us that like to wander dark streets and waterfronts with our cameras, the festive Christmas season will soon be here and there will be so much more exciting night scenes to photograph.