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Light Up The Night 4 (by Ian Plant)

Continuing my series of night photography images (you can see posts 1, 2, and 3 in the series by following the links), here is an image that was taken several years back on Lake Drummond in the Great Dismal Swamp of Virginia—which, by the way, is just about the coolest name a swamp could ever have. This image was made in six feet of water. I used a small inflatable boat to get into position, and then dropped a wooden tripod with extension legs into the water, lashing my boat to the tripod so that I could set up my shot without having to worry about drifting away. Oh, did I forget to mention, I did this at night?

Night photography has its challenges, the most significant one being that it is often too dark to see much of anything. I used a portable spotlight to illuminate a nearby cypress tree to assist in focusing the scene. Once I had focus and composition ready, I began a four minute exposure to record the movement of clouds streaking across the sky. The full moon behind me provided illumination for the cypress tree ablaze with fall color, whereas city lights from the sprawling metropolitan area of Virginia Beach and Norfolk, fifteen miles distant, lent an orange cast to the clouds.  

Despite the challenging execution of this scene, it remains one of my fondest photography memories. I had the whole lake to myself, drifting in the moonlight in total silence, with not a single other living soul for miles and miles around me. These are the magical moments that make my job so cool! 

Technical details: Canon 5D Mark II camera, 14-24mm lens, ISO 400, f/5.6, 4 minutes.

P.S. Check out my daily photoblog to see my recent series of autumn images from Zion National Park. See more of my night photography in the Nocturnal Gallery on my website.

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