"Many are Cold, but Few are Frozen" - Boston Night Photography Workshop

Posted by Charles Mazel

As the sun settled below the horizon on Saturday, March 17, an intrepid band of BCA Photo Group members met at the Rose Kennedy Greenway in Boston for a Night Photography workshop under the guidance of Jurgen Lobert (leyetscapes.com). Jurgen presented at our January 23 Technical Series meeting and enough of us were interested in learning more that we scheduled a session with him.

When it is early February and you are thinking about a date for a night outing it seems reasonable to pick something at the onset of spring. But a mid-March evening can be hit or miss, and this case it was a hit in terms of a clear night, but a solid miss because it was COLD with a wind off the ocean to bring the chill down further.

How cold was it? - It was so cold that I was seeing little green people all night. Well, maybe they weren’t so little, and maybe it happened to be St. Patrick’s Day, but they were definitely green, and I’m pretty sure they were mostly millennials. And some of them weren't walking too steadily.

How cold was it? - Jurgen recommends using the Kelvin White Balance temperature setting to account for different types of artificial lighting. But even if the scene called for a lowly 3800K to bring up the blue, I cranked mine all the way up to 10,000K, with the flawless reasoning that a hotter setting would warm up the LCD display and I might use it to unfreeze my fingers.

(OK, I know you experienced winter outdoor shooters are scoffing by now, but we were mostly relative newbies to this. It just proved the old saying that there is no bad weather, just photographers who haven’t spent enough money on specialized mittens and hand/foot warmers.)

Jurgen gave an opening briefing to review settings and procedures for long exposure, white balancing, capturing car light streaks, and the like. During the session he roved from person to person to look at results and make suggestions. We started next to the Carousel between Faneuil Hall and Christopher Columbus Park and worked our way down to the dramatic colors of the Boston Harbor Hotel at Rowes Wharf.

Frozen fingers made it hard to adjust camera settings, and not all of us made it through the full 3-hour session. I know that I took a good while to warm back up and treated myself to some hot chocolate when I got home. But we all agreed that it was a worthwhile and fun outing and that we learned a lot. We will likely put together our own meetup to do more night photography – when the weather warms up.

Below are pics of some of the group setting up by the Carousel and then spread out a little further south, and then a gallery of images from the participants. Hover over the image to see the name of the photographer.

Meet-up - Boston Custom House Tower Blue Hour

Saturday, October 21 - BCA members Edmund Prescottano, Janie Weinberg, and John Thorsen, plus prospective member Linda Ellis and Janie's husband spent a beautiful evening photographing from the observation deck of the Custom House Tower in Boston. The views were quite amazing and the weather cooperated with mild temperatures and a wonderful sky. In all a very successful outing.

Meet-up - Wayside Inn Grist Mill and Martha Mary Chapel

Seven BCA photo group members - Edmund Prescottano, Bob Bicknell, Dick Wolk, Joe Gallagher, Charlie Mazel, John Thorsen, and Paul Newcomb - met just at the Wayside Inn Grist Mill in Sudbury just after sunrise. It was a cloudy day, but with patience and the expectation of some post-processing help there was plenty to shoot.

Meet-up - Annisquam Light and Rockport Motif

On Saturday September 9 Dianne Bennett, Janie Weinberg, Pedro Landers, William Fiering, and Edmund Prescottano travelled to Cape Ann and photographed the Annisquam Lighthouse at sunrise. Afterwards the group traveled a short distance to Rockport,  photographing the Motif and doing some street photography.

Meet-up - Night Photography at Medfield State Hospital

BCA Photo Group members Edmund Prescottano (organizer), Mark Levinson, Bob Bass, and Rick Fine participated in the June 10 2017 meet-up for night photography at Medfield State Hospital. Edmund arranged access and planned this for full moon. The weather cooperated for a nice evening of shooting. There was no artificial light visible, so even with the moon it was DARK! Edmund helped the group with details like how to focus in the dark and how to do light painting. You can see a selection of images from the evening below.

Meet-up - Butterfly Place

On Saturday morning April 29, Helena Long, Rick Fine, Joe Gallagher, William Feiring and Edmund Prescottano photographed the amazing array of butterflies at the Butterfly Place in Westford. For the first hour we had the facility to ourselves and were able to freely move about. It was a great experience. - Contributed by Edmund Prescottano

Meet-up - Custom House Blue Hour

Contributed by Joe Gallagher

On March 11, 4 members of the Bedford Photo Group braved the cold temperatures to shoot the "blue hour" at the historic Custom House and surrounding area.  Unfortunately, upon arrival we found that the observation tower was closed due to snow and ice on the walkway.  We quickly modified the plan and walked to the Rose Kennedy Greenway to shoot the the Boston skyline and harbor.  Despite the cold, the group thoroughly enjoyed an evening of shooting and capped it off with dinner at Faneuil Hall.  

An added bonus to the meet-up was the opportunity to practice blue hour post-processing  as presented by Edmund Prescottano in his October Technical Series presentation.

Meet-up - Boston Public Library

On January 14, 2017, ten members of the BCA Photography Group had a photography meet-up at the Boston Public Library. This was a pre-arranged visit, as it is necessary to obtain permission to shoot with tripods inside the library. A good time was had by all.  Below you can see images contributed by five of the participants.

Workshop - Thibault Roland Long Exposure

On Saturday November 5, five members of the BCA Photography Group (Bill Davison, John Harris, Katharine Langenberg, Paul Newcomb and Edmund Prescottano) joined Thibault Roland for a day of shooting long exposures. This was a follow-up to his inspiring presentation on Long Exposure Architectural Black & White Fine Art at our group’s September 27 Technical Series meeting.

Our itinerary included a beach scene in Beverly MA and a lighthouse at Winter Park in Salem. Thibault provided very detailed and helpful instruction in taking images from 30 seconds to over 5 minutes. Our day ended with him demonstrating his post processing techniques.

What do you need to do this kind of photography? Aside from some standard items such as tripod, cable release, and a camera with bulb mode capability (all essential), you will need neutral density (ND) filters from 3 stops to 10 stops. It helps to have a selection (for example, 3, 6, and 10 stop ND filters). You can stack the filters as needed to adjust the exposure time for desired effects.

The procedure in taking an image is to first take a well-exposed image, composed and focused without any filters. With that data you then calculate what exposure time is needed to produce a similarly exposed image with whatever combination of ND filters you are using. Carefully put on the filter(s) without moving the camera and then take the image on bulb mode with the calculated long exposure time. Thibault provided us with conversion tables, but there are phone apps available (see the links at the bottom of this post).

A major factor to consider when selecting a shutter speed is the speed of objects moving through your scene. Very slow moving clouds would require you to choose a higher density filter, and therefore a longer exposure time, while fast moving clouds would do well with a lower density ND filter.

There is some investment required - the filters cost approximately $150 each so a set of three would be around $450 and filter holders with adapter rings can easily run another $100. But really not that much in relation to other camera gear, and with these tools and some practice time you can achieve some really stunning results.

A comment from one of the participants:

“I really enjoyed the Long Exposure photo workshop with Thibault.  I thought he was very well organized, presented materials clearly, chose very good locations and was fun to be with.  It was a great time. I recommend this workshop and would enjoy doing another.”

Contributed by Edmund Prescottano


Thibault Roland

Step-by-step guide

Conversion table


Images by Edmund Prescottano

Images by Katharine Langenberg

Images by Paul Newcomb, including one 'ordinary' shot of the scene

Images by John Harris

Meet-up - Plimoth Plantation

On October 29th five members of the BCA Photography Group traveled to Plymouth to visit many of the historical sites, including Plimoth Plantation, Plimoth Grist Mill, a tour of the Mayflower, and of course a stop at the famous Plymouth Rock.    

In addition to shooting the sites, we spent time discussing current courses that we are taking ... in particular street photography.  A few of the group spent some time practicing this skill by taking portraits of the people of Plymouth as we walked along the boardwalk.

We concluded the day with a relaxing meal at the Tavern on the Wharf overlooking Plymouth Harbor.

Contributed by Joe Gallagher

Group photo, (c) Edmund Prescottano

Group photo, (c) Edmund Prescottano

Images by Helena Long

Images by Edmund Prescottano

Images by Daniel Eppelsheimer

Images by Joe Gallagher

Images by Diane Bennett

SONY Menu Night

On August 9, 2016, six Photo Group members who shoot with Sony cameras gathered at Dennis Rainville's home to go through menu options. As cameras become more and more powerful the number of options and possible customizations increases rapidly, with the menu structure particular to each manufacturer. The attendees spent a pleasant evening systematically going through all the menu screens, reviewing the function of each option, and sharing ways to customize the camera to fit each person's shooting goals and style.

Head of the Charles Regatta Meetup - Mark Levinson

We ended up with only a very small group at the Head of the Charles Regatta meetup on Saturday, October 18th: Joe Gallagher and myself.  However, we were joined by thousands of other spectators, the weather was perfect (at least in the morning), and we got a lot of good shots.  Here are a few.  –Mark Levinson

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