One If By Land, Two If By Night…An Adventure In Light


I’ve been a big fan of night time photography for years, and always wanted to learn how it’s done. I recently started listening to a podcast called “Night Writerz”, hosted by Chad Clark ( It really inspired me to go out and start shooting night scenes. I highly suggest anyone who is interested in night photography to give his podcast a listen. Very informative, inspirational, and loads of helpful tips on how to shoot, settings, and where to find other photographers who are working in this genre.

I wont say I mastered “night photography”, but it was a very gratifying first experience. Around 10p, with my photo friend Michael Hubbard (, We set out to find some interesting places that might have graffiti, or crumbling infrastructure to make our subject and happened upon some railroad tracks (I know it seems common but it was very easy to access). Michael was working with Nikon cameras and lenses and a manfrotto tripod with vivitar strobe flashes and I had My Canon 5D MArk 1, couple lenses, manfrotto tripod, and a speedlight 580exII.

We would find a spot that looked interestingly lit by streetlights, headlights from traffic going by, or ambient mixes of lights. I had issues with focusing tho, since it was so dark at times, my auto-focus was not able to find enough contrast to make an accurate read, so I had to do it manually through the viewfinder and my eye. It was not easy, and I’m not entirely sure they are all sharp. I think next time i will bring along some high powered flashlights to do spot focusing with. Michael’s Nikon had a focusing light that assisted him, but even he had troubles getting it to see at certain distances.

Originally we had anticipated going to 3 separate locations to take night shots but lucked out and found some stationary cargo train cars on the tracks and ended up messing around for 3 hours in just that one location. Sometimes we’d make just ambient light exposures, and sometimes we’d run through a scene popping off flashes from our strobe lights to “paint” the scene. I also had a low powered flashlight that helped at times. It was a good thing we went as a pair, since it was slightly dangerous to be lurking around abandoned train cars at night where no one can hear you if you scream. I usually like photographing alone when I’m working on fine art type captures, but in this instance i highly recommend working in pairs or more to stay safe (also smart to have someone there in cause you twisted an ankle or injured yourself climbing around big train cars).

We plan on going out regularly to do more night adventures, and are open to small groups going out with us (safety in numbers). If you are interested, just contact me at or find me on twitter @S3Photo and we can work something out. Would love to hear about other possible locations to go lurking about.

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