Geese, Twilight. San Joaquin Valley, California. January 25, 2015 © Copyright 2015 G Dan Mitchell – all rights reserved.
Abstract photograph of low-flying flock of geese in twilight
It has been a while since I share a fuzzy goosescape, so I’ll try to make up for it with this one. Late in the evening of a long day photographing migratory birds and the San Joaquin Valley landscape, after the sun had set, I made this last photograph of the day in very low light. As we photograph on into the evening — typically with the camera off the tripod when photographing birds — we try to keep up with the fading light by opening up the aperture, raising the ISO, and gradually lengthening the shutter speed.
Eventually there comes a point where the light is so low that this won’t allow sharp photographs of moving birds any more. I actually look forward to this end-of-the-evening time and I happily switch over to intentional motion blur photographs. I lower the ISO, close down the aperture, lengthen the shutter speed and try for soft, blurring photographs. A lot of this work is rather experimental, since you can’t completely know what you’ll get ahead of time. You do have some control — shutter speed controls just how much blur there will be; by panning the camera you can get moving subjects to be defined enough to recognize; by moving the camera you can control the angles and curves of lines of blurred light. And when it all works out just right the result can be quite beautiful and, in some ways, more suggestive of the feeling of this place at twilight.
G Dan Mitchell is a California photographer and visual opportunist whose subjects include the Pacific coast, redwood forests, central California oak/grasslands, the Sierra Nevada, California deserts, urban landscapes, night photography, and more.
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Text, photographs, and other media are © Copyright G Dan Mitchell (or others when indicated) and are not in the public domain and may not be used on websites, blogs, or in other media without advance permission from G Dan Mitchell.