Vancouver at night

Last night I found myself with an opportunity. I had to drop my son off for an overnight sleepover at the Vancouver Public Aquarium. I packed my camera kit into the car even though the sunny day had turned overcast. As the Vancouver skyline approached on our drive into town the sun returned. I basically did a rolling stop to Let Luca and his friend out, got a quick verbal confirmation that his teacher was now responsible for him, and headed out to shoot. I wanted to do long exposure shots of the Lions Gate bridge at sunset, and possibly of downtown Vancouver from the Seawall. All cliché shots that have been taken a million times, I know, but I needed to get out and shoot something, anything, pretty and colourful and it looked like this was the perfect chance.

My first set-up as sunset approached was to use a 10-stop Neutral Density (ND) filter, but as it got darker I realized that not having a shutter release cable was going to be a problem as I was approaching a one to two minutes exposure. I exchanged the 10-stop for a 3-stop ND and began shooting. As the light got dimmer and the lights of the bridge came on things began to work pretty well. Going over the shots from that first perspective however, I realized I need to get a shutter release cable for the new X-T1 as 30 Seconds wasn’t long enough, and for this shot I had to open up the lens to F8, so I lost the twinkle effect in the lights. As I was taking this shot 3 VPD bicycle mounted offerers came up beside me to take selfies of the sunset. I said that they had a great beat to be cycling around. One told me they usually had the English Bay side and had to deal with lots of drunk people on the beach so the North side of the park was a nice break for them.

Click any image below to see the larger versions

Lions Gate Bridge

FUJIFILM (28.9mm, f/8, 30 sec, ISO200)
Lions Gate Bridge

Next stop was the other side of the park to capture the skyline and the Yacht club. I only grabbed a few shots here and as I was leaving noticed a woman run over from her car and try to balance her camera on top of a sandwich-board sign. I went over and offered her the use of my tripod. This,naturally, brought her rather curious husband and kids from the car as well. Turns out they were visiting from the Czech Republic and she didn’t have room for a tripod. She mentioned how she drove her husband nuts with having to stop and photograph all the time, and I explained that my wife and kids had to endure the same. She took about 40 more shots than I did and as she handed me back the tri-pod exclaimed “Thank you, you are my champion!!” That made my night.

Vancouver Skyline and Yacht club

FUJIFILM (18mm, f/11, 2 sec, ISO200)
Vancouver Skyline and Yacht club

I bundled myself into the car and drove a little further around the park to get a better vantage point of the skyline. The moon was popping in and out of the clouds which helped to give a little drama to the shots. Again, I was playing with exposure times anywhere from 10 to 30 seconds. I called it quits at about 10:15 as I had to drive home. Along the way I found 3 or more vantage points I want to return to. Man Vancouver is beautiful.

Vancouver Sky Line 2

FUJIFILM (18mm, f/11, 30 sec, ISO200)
Vancouver Sky Line 2

Vancouver Skyline

FUJIFILM (40.7mm, f/16, 6.5 sec, ISO200)
Vancouver Skyline

So other then the shutter release cable the second thing I learned from this short photo session, which I really should have known already, is that when you are doing night photography turn your camera’s LCD brightness down as low as you can. Many of my shots, which looked perfectly exposed on the back of the camera in the dark, were almost 2-stops under exposed. Thankfully the Fuji x-trans sensor captures amazing amounts of information and I was able to recover the information I wanted without introducing too much noise.