Too Dark? Probably Not.
Every year, my wife, Sue and I take a week off and travel to northern California for a 4 day music festival. It's located just outside the western entrance to Yosemite. And over the years we've gone from being regular members of the audience... and then being asked to be part of the photo crew. And for the last couple festivals, I've been teaching a morning photo workshop.
It's a magical event, and probably the easiest thing to shoot on the planet. If you didn't get your fix of Tie-Dye in the 60's, it's still alive and well, believe me.........at least among this typical northern california crowd.
And, I've never met a friendlier group of folks, anywhere. I return to the studio completely refreshed, year after year. Cheap therapy. Try it out, if you can.
Google "Strawberry Music" for a more detailed description.
Anyway..... we hung around for a couple days, after the music ended, and went into Yosemite valley to do some exploring......just the two of us. What a novel idea.
And, while driving down into the valley, we noticed the Dogwoods were still blooming at around the 6500 foot elevation. And specifically, there was an amazing section, that was terribly lit in the mid day light. So, we made a mental note to stop and shoot em on the way back later that afternoon.
Well, as expected, we got sidetracked with my constant photography on the way back.....and by the time we reached the Dogwoods again, it was practically dark.
But, the good news was..... absolutely NO wind. And, I had my new Fuji S-5, with absolutely great low-noise levels at high ISO's, combined with long shutter speeds. And, the lens was Tamron's new 18-250, which is proving to be a real gem.
So, out came the tripod. Lets test this new camera under these adverse conditions.
Focusing was difficult in the near dark conditions. But, using a flashlight, the footage guides on the lens barrel let me manually set the focus at 20 feet. That was the approximate distance to the closest blooms. I knew we'd need lots of depth-of-field, so f/16 was chosen. White balance was set for "shady" And, my only option on the ISO was 400....because, even at 400, the shutter was going to be open for 15 seconds. I didn't want to risk anything longer for 2 reasons: Longer exposures would have run the risk of a stray car passing by, and getting the exposure ruined by headlights, and branch movement with the ensuing wind. And, the second reason: as the light fades quickly at dusk: you sometimes get only one shot at something like this...where the shutter is open so long, that by the time you could pull off a second frame..it's REALLY too dark.
Kind of a scary set of options.
But, it worked. And when the shutter closed on the final shot, I couldn't even see the 2 trees in the background. The only visible elements within the frame was a faint image of the white Dogwood blooms. Unbelievable what we can now do with a high end digital camera.
So much for dinner.