Posted by: peterhact | August 21, 2012

The perils of late night photography

There are many things that you see when taking photos at night, some are interesting, some are a tad strange and others are downright dangerous. The interesting things can include lake reflected lights, thunderstorms, interestingly lit buildings. These things I like. The strange stuff can include a steamed up rocking car, security guards who take a very keen interest in what I am photographing, police who also seem interested in why I am up on top of a mountain on a really cold night, and tourists who are up there too – with no clue that the bit they are looking at is in fact the Canberra CBD, not parliament house. The “Guide” that they have with them has no clue, either.

The dangerous stuff includes the drunks, the shady characters, the hoons and my personal favorites, the drivers who insist on doing 20 in an 60 zone, with their high beams on. (startling other motorists, cyclists and pedestrians) They each have their own personal points to watch out for:

1. The Drunks: usually, cold nights seem to stop these people from venturing out of the pub. For some reason, there was a group of them down at the lake, looking at the purty lights. In hindsight, they had probably driven there. These people seem harmless, but are very annoying. It is only when they make a grab for the camera that you realise you are in trouble. Luckily, I subscribe to the “walking very fast away towards my car” philosophy. if you hurry off, they don’t seem to want to follow. Security guards and police also seem to materialize around these people – always a good thing.

2. The Shady Characters: I am buggered if I know what they are up to. The lake has never been a place for shady deals, there are far too many lights and other people. But they usually sidle past, avoiding the camera completely. Never a problem, set the flash to stun and they soon leave.

3. The hoons: the 70 zones on mountain roads are there for a reason. the roads are steep. sitting an inch from my back bumper won’t make me go faster, in fact it may make me slow down. if you want to drive like a maniac, please do it when I am not around. I really dislike the prospect of having to pull your mangled body out of your car when you hit a kangaroo, the side of the road or another car, cyclist or pedestrian. (yes, some people like to walk down roads in the dark, in dark clothing)

4. The highbeam slow drivers: Two words for you: buy glasses. High beam lights are no good in street lights. If you can’t see, get your eyes checked. really.

Then there is the wildlife. Wildlife gets its own back when you are standing on a hill and something crashes through the brush past you. Or you are walking up a path and it suddenly gets really crowded with animals. Its enough to not need a toilet stop on the way home. all manner of things can greet you at dusk or dawn, or in the middle of the night. kangaroos mostly. There is the odd feral swan or duck that wants to see if you have any food – fingers appear to be a new form of snack.

Down by the Lake, it is usually swans. Don’t use your flash, they don’t react well…

Sometimes, I wonder how I manage to get photos at all.



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