I love the nightlife

In the 11 previous Readers Photo Challenge assignments the Challenge received an average of about 60 photos from about 20 entrants, give or take (The very first one, “Flowers,” 123 photos were sent in from 40 readers). But the latest assignment, “Night,” may have proved a bit too daunting for some. Only 7 readers sent in a total of 24 photos. Weather was a mitigating factor as we had several evenings of much need rain. Also most people don’t think about taking photos at night. They can be intimidated by the darkness or unsure on what exposure to set their camera at. However once you’ve mastered night photography it can be fun taking photos during a time when very few others think about pictures. For the current challenge assignment what was lacking in numbers was made up for in the quality of the entries. Here are some of the best images that show that nighttime can be the right time for taking photos.


Using a Canon EOS 7D DSLR camera Ron Wetherell of Stockton shot a photo of the waterfront area near De Carli Waterfront Square, Janet Leigh Plaza, the Hotel Stockton and the City Centre Cinemas in downtown Stockton. A small lens aperture (f/22) transformed the specular highlights of the street lamps into starbursts all set against the inky black sky. Combined with the compositional element of the railing in the foreground leading the viewer’s eye into the picture, it made the downtown scene look like a magical kingdom.


Darrin Denison of Stockton took a different tact of the same area as Wetherell. He shot during the “blue hour,” the time after sunset and before the sky turns black. He used one of a pair of long fountains to lead the eye into the composition as well as reflecting the colored lights in its water. It may look like it was shot with a fancy DSLR but Wetherell used just an iPhone 4s for his photo.


While the rain may have kept some people from shooting their night photos, Teresa Mahnken of Morada took full advantage of the inclement weather. Bokeh is a Japanese term that’s now all the rage in photography. It refers the to the out of focus highlights when shot with a wide aperture that become large round circles of light and/or color. Mahnken was stopped a traffic light and with her Nikon D3200 DSLR and 18-55mm lens she photographed the rain drops on the windshield of her car. The out of focus lights in the background created several pleasing colorful bokeh effects. The photo makes me think of words to that old Eddie Rabbitt song: “I love a rainy night. I love a rainy night. I love to hear the thunder, watch the lightning when it lights up the sky. You know it makes me feel good.”


Rick WIlmot of Lodi took this photo of a half-moon from his backyard with Canon PowerShot SX40 HS. You might think that it would be hard to get a close up of the moon with a dinky point-and-shoot camera but the SX40 comes with a impressive 35x zoom which, at its fullest extension, is the equivalent of a 840mm lens in a 35mm camera due to the Canon’s smaller sensor size. Since the light falling on the moon is essentially the same as daylight hitting the Earth, the exposure was similar to shooting during the day here.


Mary Paulson of Valley Springs used a Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ50 point-and-shoot digital camera to photograph the El Dorado Hotel in Reno. A deep azure sky of the “blue hour” combined with the green exterior lights and bold angularity of the building’s design, it looks more like an alien spaceship than a luxury hotel.


Burns Tower is not only an icon of the University of the Pacific but of Stockton as well. It’s well lit at night and Sydney Spurgeon of Stockton took advantage of that. Shot from near the base of the tower Spurgeon with the night sky as a background. With the surrounding distractions like trees and other buildings rendered virtually invisible by the darkness, she set the building off to one side of the frame. It’s stark white walls illuminated by floodlights on the ground stand out against the stygian black sky.


The next Readers Photo Challenge assignment will be announced next week on Monday March 17.

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