For Patti's second DSLR Photography Lesson in downtown St. Petersburg she wanted to learn how to use her tripod for making great dusk, twilight and night shots. It turns out she has the same Pro Line tripod as I do! The weather in St. Petersburg went overnight from summer-like to arctic. As we made our way out to The Pier, I was glad I was wearing my Mountain Hard Wear softshell rendering the blustery wind harmless.
We stopped at the approach to The Pier for a tip on using leading lines to add interest to a shot's composition. I also stressed one of my axiom's of photography -- avoid shooting at eye level whenever possible. I had Patti fully shorten her tripod's legs for a nice long angle shot of The Pier, that she remarked after she took it was different than any other shot of The Pier she had taken before. That is exactly the kind of results I strive for in my own photography and something I try to instill in anyone I teach photography to from the beginning -- if I can see it by standing at eye level, why in the world would I want to look at a photograph of the exact same thing? I wouldn't. So show me something I cannot see by standing at eye level. I am glad to pass on this practice to Patti as she photographed The Pier during our lesson.
Of course the best thing about photography and The Pier, is shooting the downtown St. Petersburg skyline from the top of The Pier itself. This is challenging however as there is a very tall railing that needs to be shot over. Our tripods needed significant center column extension to be able to do so, a negative because that reduced stability. Add in a strong wind, and conditions were far from ideal. This just made us have to be extra careful and thoughtful in the mechanics of tripod shooting. Patti has a handy wireless remote she used to trigger her Nikon D3000 in order to eliminate camera shake even more.
Before we entered the elevator to get back to the ground level I suggested we set up our DSLRs for long exposure shots while riding the elevator down. Setting up our cameras before allowed us to be ready once we got into the elevator and not hold it up or have to worry about it moving before we were ready. You can see Patti's reflection to the mid-left and mine to center-right. To the far left is some guy who had a DSLR who I heard say, "wish I had brought my tripod."
Patti is off to Las Vegas for a family Christmas vacation. She now has the skills to get some great night shots of that far brighter city. I of course encouraged her to wake up before sunrise and head out to the desert for some dawn landscapes! I look forward to seeing if she does.