Bored and Waiting for the Night
It was early Spring in 2020. I looked through my window at the open canvas and wondered what the Sun would paint tonight. A few low-lying clouds in the West streaked across an otherwise clear sky. I had a feeling this would be a gorgeous night for photography.
I tossed my bike and camera gear into the trunk of my car and sped off to my secret spot. I refer to it as the North Jetty, and it’s the furthest point on Ferguson Rd. on Iona Island in Richmond, BC. From the parking lot, you can either walk or bike. My preference is the latter as there is some distance to cover to reach one of my favorite places to shoot nighttime photography.
It’s still early in the year, and I had only recently bought my tripod, and thus eager to gain more experience. With all the camera gear packed and strapped to the bike, I rode at top speed over the dirt and rock-covered trail. I considered this my daily exercise, so why not spin the crank with some urgency?
About 15 minutes later, I arrived at a clearing, and the dirt path gave way to sand, patches of green/yellow grass, and logs of all shapes and sizes. Like a clown, I attempted to continue riding, but the wheels spun in the sand until I decided to disembark. With all my might, I pushed the bike over the logs and through the soft powder dirt until I reached the foreshore of the beach. The wet-packed sand allowed me to mount the bike and ride a steady pace toward the setting Sun. After several minutes of peddling, I parked my 4×4 against a log and prepared for the evening photography lesson.
Night, Camera, Action!
With the camera mounted on the tripod, I marched from one spot to another on the narrow jetty, like a roman soldier masquerading across a new frontier. I experimented with various settings, including; slow shutter speed, super low ISO of 50, low angles, etc. Before I knew it, almost two hours had passed, and the Sun was already below the horizon. It was in the final stages of saying good night by throwing its last can of light rays onto the clouds. The canvas was now complete.
As darkness fell, I decided now was the time to call it quits and head home. It was challenging to distinguish which log I had parked the bike against, as they all looked the same in the dark. I finally saw the outline of the bicycle, but I could not spot my camera bag. With the phone light on, I looked all around logs in case it had fallen over. I walked to the last shooting spot before turning off the camera, and still nothing. Strange indeed, I could not locate it anywhere, as if the night had swallowed it. I was perplexed.
Where's the Camera Bag? Oops!
In my excitement to learn photography in an open classroom with mother nature as my teacher, I must have removed the camera bag from my back and set it down somewhere. With the light disappearing quickly, I thought about organizing several logs on the ground as markers and returning in the morning to continue the search. I performed a monetary calculation of the items inside the bag, including the 3 ND filter set, remote, etc., then changed my mind, as it was a bit too much to lose. I said to myself, “Let’s calm down and refocus.” Then backtracked my movement to when I first arrived and the various spots I photographed. Using the handy phone light, I quickly retraced my steps to the exact area where I had removed the bag. “There you are? and a big Yahoo!!!” I shouted out loud.
The Take Away
With the camera safely stowed in the bag, I grabbed the bike and rode back along the foreshore. In one hand was the phone acting as headlight, while the other held the handlebar tightly. One sudden turn to the right meant falling and getting wet with the ocean water. Once I reached the dirt trail, I rode carefully but quickly. The path was hard to see, with the phone light bouncing like a ball. At the same time, there was some urgency to make it to the parking lot before the parking lot gate closed for the night. Meanwhile, I had worked up another sweat.
Once back in my vehicle and driving home, I wondered what could be changed for the next nighttime outing. My first thought was to invest in a light for the bike and be more mindful of where I put my gear. Oddly enough, I still fumble through all my pockets to locate the camera lens cap every time, especially when I know it should be in the same one.
It was another one of those early moments of learning photography. To be a photographer, sometimes you need to remember more than just the camera settings. Also, don’t forget the time, as it will disappear very quickly, especially when you are having fun. Until next time, safe shooting.